Don’t Call Them Bookends…Try Book Beginnings

Feb 19, 2009 by

We all know that we should not judge a book by its cover, but what about bookends?  Don’t judge a bookend by the fact that it is marketed as one.  Looking around your home will present you with a medley of creative options that allow you to create repurposed bookends.  Here are two upcycled bookend ideas from yours truly, followed by inspiration from contributing creatives.


Architectural salvage places are the perfect place to start hunting for unique bookends.  I found this pair of brass flourishes from an architectural salvage yard, and their weight and shape made for perfect repurposed bookends.

Repurposed Typewriters as Bookends

For a literal interpretation of bookends, why not use vintage typewriters?  From my collection of antique typewriters, I borrowed two black Royals to make repurposed bookends.  I think the end result is quite inspirational for a writer or literary enthusiast.


Outdated (yet adorable) vintage cameras enjoy a new spotlight as bookends.  1453designs repurposed vintage Kodak Bakelight cameras, along with mah jong tiles and dominos, to create chic and stylish camera bookends.


While LPs still have a place in my home, there are some genres of music that simply need to be repurposed.    While we have all seen vinyl record bowls and coasters, this DIY tutorial shows you how to repurposed LPs into bookends.  Now that’s music to my eyes!

What do you use as bookends in your home?  I would love to hear about them and see photos!

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Repurpose Vintage Birdcages into Freedom Lamps

Jan 26, 2009 by

Whether it’s my desire to prevent future birds from being trapped or the intriguing architectural lines, vintage bird cages have also captured my attention.   In an effort to repurpose my growing collection, I have found that vintage birdcages make the most charming lamps.  With the lamp kits that you can purchase for $5 – $10, a string of LED lights, or even candles, you can repurpose vintage birdcages that chirp with light and charm.


As some of you kind readers may recall, my first birdcage lamp related project was restoring an antique Italian chandelier and hanging it on a birdcage stand, which makes for the perfect solution for renters who want to enjoy a chandelier — but also need to take it with us!


If you have the pleasure of finding a wooden birdcage, then you can easily purchase a wood lamp kit to create beautiful ambiance in your home.  While this birdcage from A Cottage Industry is not vintage nor handmade, it is excellent inspiration for antique birdcages.  You could actually mount the lamp kit to the top of any wooden birdcage by removing the top finial, if needed.


Be inspired by Philadelphia’s Dog Haus, hosted by the Philadelphia Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and sweeten any birdcage with its own curtain, which naturally diffuses the light without any lamp shade necessary.   If you would like to hang your newly repurposed birdcage lamp, then you can purchase a hanging lamp kit (Ikea has one for about $4).  You may want to use fire-retardant spray on the fabric, or opt for LED lightbulbs, just in case.

zuzupetals - repurposed birdcage lamp

Go wireless and use a string of LED lights to illuminate your newly repurposed vintage birdcage, like ZuZuPetals.  You can use rubber bands or clips to create the shape you desire for the light sculpture inside the birdcage.


To create a fantastically stylish and bohemian look in your home, be inspired by shelikesdior‘s photo by stringing a medly of vintage birdcages across your ceiling.  Only one needs to be illumminated, and I love how the different genres of birdcages are brought together using a common color theme.

Pray tell, have you repurposed any vintage birdcages in your home?  I always enjoy hearing about your projects and ideas!

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KEDAI in Indonesia: Cafe Without a Key Tour

Jan 15, 2009 by

Imagine walking into a cafe filled with warm colors, creative furniture, and vintage Indonesian film posters — one that is a stark contrast to its minimalist, yuppie neighbors.  As the delicious aromas of coffee brewed from local Indonesian farmers fill your spirit, your eyes are surprised by all of the unique ways the restaurant design has been repurposed.   Welcome to KEDAI, a wonderful cafe located in Kemang in South Jakarta, Indonesia.

Tika is the creative proprietor behind this splendid cafe, where I know I would spend most of my evenings if I lived an ocean closer!  She was inspired to incorporate her love of colors, creative upcycling, used objects and second hand furniture to create a chic ambiance – with help from her power tool wielding mum!  When she went hunting through Jakarta looking for old wood that would become tables and cup hangers, she found much more than she had imagined….


Customers wash their hands at a tin bucket fashioned into a sink basin,which sits on a gorgeous table made from reclaimed wood.  Better yet, the water comes out from a chicken faucet purchased from a Bangkok market.


Forget particle board!   At KEDAI, you can be part of the alternative energy movement by dining at repurposed tables made from oil barrels that Tika cut in half.   Enjoy the cafe’s healthy food, clearly made without additives or MSG, and be inspired by all the creativity around you.


Using metal rice bowls commonly found in all Indonesian households, Tika created gorgeous lamps that let out the perfect amount of starry, diffused light.  She drilled the patterns into the rice bowls, although if you want to “borrow” this idea from KEDAI, you could possibly substitute vintage colanders for metal rice bowls.


Taking repurposed lighting to a new level of creativity, Tika fashioned a chandelier from vintage silverware pieces, and the result is magnificent!


Tika utilized reclaimed wood pieces, leftover from chair and desk projects for the local public schools, to create unique and charming chairs.   It’s also so lovely to see the entire ambiance of the creative cafe.


If two creative repurposed lighting fixtures were not enough to impress you, then dine under the “stars” created from upcycled bicycle rims. I absolutely adore all of the subdued lighting in KEDAI.  Not only is it inspirational for writing, but also the perfect place for a first date!

Now, are you ready for the best part?   Tika and her friends just opened the doors to Bikin Barang, a “Little shop of handmade knick knacks, vintage treasures, and craft supplies,” which translates into “heaven” in my vocabulary. 

Thank you Tika for sharing your wonderful space in this Room (or rather, Cafe) Without a Key Tour!  I hope to visit in person in the near future!

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Wabi Sabi: Something Old, Something Blue

Jan 14, 2009 by


Amidst all of the uncertainties 2009 holds, I am finding more solace and serenity in the Wabi Sabi philosophy.  The stark contrast of Wabi Sabi against the last decade’s gluttony of HELOCs gone wrong is refreshing, to say the least.  You don’t need the latest high-brow design couch, and you certainly don’t need to revamp your entire home with the trendiest colors.  Instead, the treasures already in your home that symbolize your life, emotions, and personal history are perfect!  In fact, the only elements in your home should be ones that you absolutely love, undoubtly need, or ideally fulfill both prerequisites!

British stylish Tonya Goodwin, whose lovely portfolio has been featured on many design blogs of late, embodies a peaceful Wabi Sabi aesthetic that combines the beauty of raw nature with polished yore.  Her use of materials on this flourished European mantle is unexpected, yet so pleasing to the eye and soul.  Truly, especially in these tumultuous times, don’t you find that less is indeed more?

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Repurposed Mondays: Climbing Upcycled Ladders

Jan 12, 2009 by

Finding the perfect vintage ladder has been on my treasure hunt list of late.  Providing both style and chic storage functionality, repurposed ladders can be used from bathrooms to living rooms.  If a ladder graces your home in a room other than the garage, I would love to hear about how you have repurposed it.


The unexpeted combination of a construction ladder and a delicate chandelier creates a lovely ambiance via Brocade Home.


No upward ladder climbers here!  At Idle Hand Tattoo in San Francisco, science!alex spooted an upcycled ladder turned into an unexpected and quite practical bookshelf.


The creatively talented Maya and her mother created an absolutely intriguing vignette using an old ladder, barn wood, and wire baskets.  Even better, you can enjoy the full DIY tutorial at maya*made!  I could spend hours exploring all of the vintage treasures artfully displayed on this fantastic upcycled ladder.


With the addition of a few planks, a vintage ladder is repurposed in Real Living into a stylish display piece.  So long curiosity cabinets!


Of course, your guests will be delighted with Martha Stewart‘s idea of using an antique apple picking ladder as a chic towel holder.


From an older repurposed bathroom post, a bathtub caddy is fashioned with the help of an antique ladder.


Of course, if you find yourself in my shoes, desperately lacking a vintage ladder, then be inspired to make your own.  In this image from Christine Churchill’s  The Collector’s Eye, the featured ladder could be created with decorative molding or trim, fastened to even two long branches.

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