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The repurposing craze

general store counter

1800’s General store counter turned into a kitchen island

Why has repurposing become such a world wide obsession? Well, we’re going to try to answer that for you!

What is repurposing? In our own definition, repurposing (some people call it upcycling) is taking something existing, maybe something old that may have reached the end of it’s lifespan, or something newer that just doesn’t have a purpose for you, and making it into something with a different intent altogether. This is something that almost all of us does without even realizing it. Like when you take an old container, bin or metal pot and use it for a planter. Or when you take an old couch cushion and give it to your dog to use as a dog bed. Yep, whether you realize it or not, you are part of the repurposing phenomenon!

Antique industrial factory cart made into a coffee table

Antique industrial factory cart made into a coffee table

So whats the difference between recycling and repurposing? Well, nothing really. Except maybe the part of the process we are referring to. When we send our cans and plastic bottles to be recycled, we don’t really know what they will be used again for eventually. But when we take something and turn it into something with a new use, or a new purpose, we are repurposing. Many of us do this for the obvious benefit of saving money. What a lot of us don’t realize, is that we are contributing to much larger good. The idea of creating less waste. For example, are you one of those people that doesn’t throw anything out, in the hopes that at some point you will have a use for it or be able to use it somehow in the future? And sure enough, when that time comes, that old tailgate from your granddaddy’s pick up truck makes the perfect cabinet door? Ok, most of us don’t do that but, you get the idea. 

porch post bed

Old farmhouse porch posts made into a 4 poster bed

So why has repurposing become so popular? Its a fact that salvaging the unsalvageable has become a huge trend in home decor. People love the look of repurposed home furnishings and decor. So much so that everywhere you look, people are finding ways to repurpose things. Demand is so high that, did you know that buying repurposed wood floors cost roughly 3X more than new wood?! Yes, it’s become a total craze. Maybe it’s the unique, one of a kind look that is so appealing. After all, a piece of furniture that has been repurposed is unlikely to be duplicated. Maybe its the creative ways in which some pieces are being put back together that makes them a conversation piece as well as functional.  Whatever it is, some of us (who me??) are actually addicted to it. Yes, I reuse and repurpose everything. (These photos are just some of our bigger projects :))

Antique hardware store cabinet

Antique hardware store cabinet used as entertainment center and overdyed antique rug

We love repurposing for all the reasons above. There’s a general sense of feeling good that you have not thrown something out or wasted something that could potentially be very useful in some other form. There’s also the satisfaction of creating something so unique and so beautiful that others can truly appreciate. And then theres the final product, something to be proud of because you pretty much made it into what it is. Repurposing is not only practical, resourceful and money saving, it’s creative and beautiful. And trust me, it’s a lot of fun!

Need some ideas and inspiration? I find that the best place for that is Pinterest (yes I am also a Pinaholic). 

Or you check out some of the awesome photo entries from our #repurposemyjunk contest :)

And lastly, some of our favorites:

DIY Design and Upcycling

Get Organized: 25 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage

The Big List: 49 Smart, Money-Saving Creative Reuse Ideas

Do It Yourself Repurposing Ideas

50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

30 Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff

100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items

So what are you waiting for? :)

July 26th, 2015|

Repurposed military bags

The bag that started it all!!

Military bag made from reclaimed military canvas.

I once saw a bag for sale online that had been repurposed from old military textiles and immediately fell in love. It was so authentic, loaded with character and had such a historical significance that just really drew me to it. I wanted that bag, in a bad way, but it was really expensive!! Over the next couple weeks I kept going back to admire the bag but I knew I would never have it. That was when I told myself that I would learn to make one.

tnbc designs military tote bag

I’ve always had a sewing machine and … I’ve always sewed. But I had never sewn a bag so naturally I thought it would be easier than it was. I spent endless hours online reading tutorials and watching DIY videos and weeks later, I pulled out some scrap textiles and made my first bag. It was not very pretty. So I made another. And another. Over the next several weeks, I made more. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I made more. I wasn’t very satisfied with any of them, never mind that it took me a ridiculous amount of time to make just one. I wish I had taken pictures of some of those beginner bags but if you can imagine a very basic tote with no frills, no liner, no pockets, no zippers, some never even got straps! I just kept going through the motions., undoing what I did, and then doing it again. Boy was I determined!

vintage military bag

Well, I did eventually make my first military bag. And I loved it. I loved it so much, that I opened up an Etsy shop and listed it for sale. I didn’t list it for very much as I didn’t feel that I was a professional bag maker in any way, but it was a nice bag and I thought that someone out there would love it and be able to appreciate the time and thought that I had put into it. While I was making another one, it sold! And so it began. My shop at the time was called Rebagged designs and I was only making bags. We had another shop called Apothecary Art where we were making apothecary cabinets. Eventually we combined the two to create Tnbc designs.

military duffel bag

So that is how it all started. And the best part? Hundreds and hundreds of bags later …. and I still have yet to make one for myself!!

Shop bags here >>


Military pouch

US Military bag

February 5th, 2015|

Our 1770 farmhouse

Tnbc designs Our farmhouse

Crazy right?! When we first saw the paperwork on this house, we thought is was a typo. Maybe it was supposed to say 1870? But no. It was built in 1770.

The picture above is not much like the original house as many additions were put on throughout the years with the last addition being the left third of the house. But the original free standing fireplace sill stands and we use it all the time! It’s a double sided fireplace with one side being a brick oven, which we believe was added on. The mantle is also the original, hand hewn mantle. I love many things about this old house, but the fireplace I love the most.

old brick fireplace

The room that the fireplace faces is the original house, We think that was the entire house because in the basement, you can see the different sections that were added on and where the original foundation is. Underneath the beams are the original house beams that were covered shortly before we bought the house. One of these days we will take a peek to see what’s underneath. Here is the other side of the fireplace, a very cool brick oven. It’s probably hard to tell, but this fireplace is massive, measuring 70″ from front to back.

Old farmhouse brick oven

 We tried making a brick oven pizza once but there must be an art to using one of these. The only thing I’ve successfully made in it was a grilled cheese.  We actually use it as a mini fireplace instead. :) As you can see, the house had been completely renovated shortly before we bought it and it’s more like a modern day farmhouse, so we’ve tried to bring back some of the old farmhouse charm with antique furniture and decor.

general store counter

The above picture is an original 1873 general store counter taken out of a general store in Highland Mills, NY. The house originally had a granite top kitchen island which was a bit too modern for this old house. The other side of the cabinet has 8 very large drawers, almost like maybe they were grain bins. Though we love the kitchen, it will be receiving a make over at some point. At the very least, the cabinets will get painted and maybe, hopefully, we can get a real farmhouse sink in. I know, the stainless steel is also a bit too modern but … maybe we’ll go for the urban farmhouse look?

farmhouse living room

We got that mirror at the Brimfield Antique show (read about why we love Brimfield here). It came out of an old industrial building and measures over 5′ x 5’!  

Porch post poster bed

This 4 poster bed was one of our coolest projects. We made it from 4 old farmhouse (no, not ours) porch posts. We had made another bed frame with a fireplace mantel headboard at the same time, but this one was the keeper!

Factory cart coffee table

What farmhouse would be complete without an old factory cart coffee table?! Another great find from Brimfield (I swear, they are not paying us). Gosh, we even got those little stools from Brimfield!

farmhouse cabinet

OK, we did not get this at Brimfield! This is an 1800’s cabinet and it’s huge. We almost couldn’t get it home in our 6’x10′ trailer! This piece has a crazy amount of storage inside and the coolest part … there is a secret panel compartment in it! I suppose back in the day, that’s where people would hide their cash? 

stepback cupboard

This is another 1800’s piece. We searched forever for a real step back cupboard and we finally go it!! I’m not sure why everything made during this time period was so massive? This one had all original hardware and again, SO much storage!

antique doors

This is an on-going project. We are slowly swapping out all our interior doors with old, antique, patina’d goodness. We get these doors from an architectural salvage warehouse in Albany, NY.  A word of caution about switching out doors for old ones … it’s not as easy as one might think! It’s a good thing we like imperfection :)

Stay tuned for more farmhouse goodness!!

December 28th, 2014|