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Reuse, recycle, reclaim

In today's Independent I wrote about three people who've been really creative in their stylish spaces – but spent virtually nothing doing it because they reused junk, things they already had or stuff found at flea markets or in the street and cleverly found other, new, uses for them.

There wasn't room in the piece for all the pictures and tips, and there were so many great, inspiring ideas I thought I'd stick the overspill here. Below are tips and images from the stylist Jasmine Orchard. Do check out the paper for the full story and tips, but I hope you enjoy this quick fix meanwhile (and I'd love to see snaps of some of your own creative re-appropriations – so send them in).

Why jelly moulds were ever wasted only for making jelly, I can't understand. The jelly mould lampshade is a trend that's been around for a while but stylist, Jasmine Orchard, who I interviewed about her upcycling skills and tips for the piece, has done it beautifully here. Love the way the unruly wire, clamped and looped around simple nails, creates a sculptural effect in its own right.

Isn't this lamp made from an eBay fire engine ingenious? Read Jasmine's step-by-step how-to make your own lamp out of an old toy truck on her blog. The idea sounded really difficult and I imagined electrical skills would be needed. But Jasmine had never done anything like it before and just got lots of tips at her local electrical store – then applied some style and creativity. 

I also love her really simple idea for a magazine rack made from an old cymbal, bent into a new shape.

It's the simplicity of the twist that makes this kind of interiors re-appropriation so satisfying. Here Jasmine has turned her jewellery into art: the rim of a nicely shaped, shiny oil can is perfect for hanging dangly earrings from; the ruler had a hole in the top already (but drilling one would take half a minute if you have a drill or a friendly neighbour with one you could borrow), so Jasmine screwed a lone vintage cupboard door knob she'd found on one of her relentless junk shop/car boot sale excursions. Most door knobs come with ready-attached fixings that will allow this (check before you buy and get all excited). 

And the picture frame, sprayed black, with a scrap of fabric in the same colour but a contrasting pattern, is idiotically simple to do. Choose the sort of fabric, like Jasmine did, that lets you hook lightweight things onto it, and/or use plastic drawing pins that stick out, and choose a colour to work with the fabric.

Proof that you really can find a use for anything: the fire truck came with this chunky orange and red plastic cover as its top. It wasn't needed for the light, so Jasmine turned it upside down and put it to work keeping things tidy, and artfully displayed, on her kitchen worktop. Love it. 

Whenever I get flowers I can never find the right (or any) vase for them. But thinking about what you might have lying around that isn't a vase is a good habit to get into. This gold teapot looks wonderful holding some roses, don't you think? Jasmine also hangs earrings from the rims of other teapots she has.

An easel at a carboot sale is the sort of thing I'd go over and stroke, appreciatively, then walk off and leave because I didn't know what to do with it. But I do love displaying treasured coffee table books (but never on a coffee table). So voila. Love the really simple idea of glass jars as planters – you could repot or, as Jasmine has, just put the plastic pot inside the jar. And any old jam jar of the right size would work. Food cans with their labels peeled off, of course, is another lovely way to avoid buying plant pots.

Jelly moulds also make good soap holders. But anything that you like the look or colour of that will do the job is worth trying.

Jasmine had lots of great tips about this sort of thing. This is an old milk crate. Proof that brightly coloured plastic can look just as good as a (now fairly pricey) vintage wooden version (wine crates look spectacular piled up against a wall on their sides as a DIY shelving unit, or fixed as stand-alone box shelves  – but you'll be lucky to find them cheaply now that people have wised up to how good they look. Which is why I so love this milk crate. Jasmine also suggests looking out for old bread crates or the ones they deliver bottles in in pubs – or anything else of a similar shape that catches your eye.

A table made from crates and a broken mirror
Jasmine says: "I have some old old Britvic crates stacked up as table legs – on top I balanced what was once a mirrored cupboard door. The mirror had broken but instead of throwing it out, I turned it over. The back of the door was really lovely and panelled so I just took out the broken glass flipped it upside down: it made a perfect table on top of the crates."

The crate recycling bins and shelves
"The crates you get with compartments also make really good recycling bins for cans and bottles as that’s what they were designed to hold; so they will keep everything in order rather than you just hurling in glass to crash about. While you could attach castors (from Ikea or a DIY store) to the base of one of the ones without compartments: also great for stashing the recyling and wheeling out of sight under a kitchen counter. You could also use the long plastic crates used for food as drawers inside an old wooden cabinet or shelving unit." Jasmine has a great picture of this last idea on her blog.

So many ideas. Thanks Jasmine! Do check out her website and blog for more inspiration and lovely images. She also provides an affordable styling service if you'd like her to come and do all the thinking for you...


  1. Creativity at its best, fantastic creations.

  2. Impressive re-use there. You do have to be careful - it's often best kept to a few pieces, and kept really tidy or it can rapidly begin to look like a second hand shop.

    It also works really well in contract - for instance, off-set and expensive kitchen worktop with recycled accessories, or re-use old wood for cabinets but use new handles.