Repurpose: To reuse something for a different purpose from the one that was originally intended. We all want to do it. The thought of re-using what was there and making it better the next time around. When talking about repurposing in regards to a home, it adds a quaintness and a charm that other (more modern) houses may not embody. Plus, it is recycling, essentially. So, it feels as if it is a chance to contribute to the world. However, there is another side to always having a great vision. For those that have lived in and/or renovated a farmhouse, it is known that sometimes the love is lost when it comes to repurposing. Let’s face it, there is A LOT to repurpose in a farmhouse, so choosing the pieces/nooks/crannies that are most important is the key to success (and plainly just finishing!). In executing this way, the project won’t become one overwhelming bubble. Trust me. We’ve been there and we’ve done that.
There are some elements in our home that we kept and couldn’t be happier. Others we inevitably chose to relinquish and those decisions also couldn’t have made us happier (hah!). We replaced twenty-nine windows and that had to be one of our biggest projects to date. We chose to keep the four windows in the attic because they have a unique quality – their rounded upper arch. To replace this arch would have cost us triple the other windows, so we decided to hold off and keep them for the charm and character. The space these four windows occupy is our third floor that we renovated as a “hangout” space for all of us – music, legos, reading. The space really carries these windows well.
Another repurpose in our home was several of the closet doors. In both of our daughters’ rooms we chose to rebuild more appropriate closet space, leaving the old closet doors available. We knew we wanted these in the mix since they really speak to the period of our home and add character. With a fresh coat of paint and some modernized hardware, we lightened their look up a bit. Turns out the two doors we kept we were able to re-use for two closet doors we added in our second-floor hallway. It all came full circle and we love that we were able to keep this piece of the house pie intact.
As mentioned previously, when we first moved in to our farmhouse we were completely overwhelmed and working off of a very low budget. Therefore, there was a lot of repurposing that landed on our own to-do list rather than passing them off to the painter or contractor. One piece of our puzzle was our very crooked front staircase. Instead of asking “is that sloping”, most people asked “now is that staircase safe to walk up and down?!”. Yes, that was the status of our front stairs. We knew we would need to replace them eventually (which we did recently, four and a half years later), but decided it would be best to jack them up and secure them for temporary use until we had a greater budget. This plan worked out great, but as part of this on-going project, we really wanted to keep the staircase railing forever. So, before we jacked up the staircase, we removed the railing and I sanded and re-stained it in our driveway. I am not going to lie, I was a bit bitter putting all of this hard work into something I inevitably wouldn’t get to fully appreciate for several years. However, now that all is said-and-done, we couldn’t be happier with the fact that we had that vision, put in that hard work and waited it out until the time was right.
Bedroom doors and hardware are another element of our home that we want to keep in the design. Truly they are nothing special, but they show enough personality from 1890 and all the love our home has received through more than a century. Our next round is to take them each off individually, properly sand them (which seems to never have been done) and re-paint them so they look a bit crisper. Keep it here for updates on this piece.
We hope this post gets your wheels turning. What can you repurpose in your farmhouse? If you don’t have a farmhouse, what may be repurposed from a consignment or antique shop that translates to a space/nook/cranny in your home? Remember not to be afraid of old things. Definitely be mindful of what the project/pieces may entail, but know it is possible to “Chip and Joanna” items for us regular folk as well! All it takes is vision and work.