Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Upcycle that Bicycle! Trash vs Treasure

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 by Lisa Ricard Claro   18 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

Photo courtesy of Harry Fabel,

Last week I came upon a great blog post about repurposing everyday items for use as décor. That kind of thing always draws me in because I’m terrible at it, so I do a lot of oohing and aahing and saying things like, “Isn’t that clever!” and “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Take a wooden door, for instance. I look at a wooden door and think, “Hey, there’s a wooden door.” But someone else saw a wooden door and thought, “Patio table.” They painted it, turned it sideways on something like fancy sawhorses, put chairs around it, and damned if it isn’t a terrific patio table. Take a look:

Here are a few more to inspire you:

Many moons ago we had a neighbor who excelled at this. Let’s call her Ms. DIY. Ms. DIY was always doing projects that started out as something dumpy and ended up as something amazing. What she could do with broken stuff and a little glue and paint was nothing short of spectacular. Anyway, one day, the lady across the street put a train wreck of an accent table out at the curb for trash pickup. The table was scratched, gouged, and the drawer was busted. Veneers had peeled off and some were still peeling, curling at the ends like Snidely Whiplash’s famous mustache. The legs were lopsided. The only question in my mind was why she hadn’t tossed it sooner. “Mind if I take this?” asked Ms. DIY. “Knock yourself out,” said the owner. So Ms. DIY did.

Well, you’re a buttercup-smarty-pants, so you already know where this is going, but I’ll tell you anyway. About two months later, the owner of the table and I had an opportunity to visit Ms. DIY. Upon entering her home, my companion and I both admired a table sitting in the foyer. It was beautiful. Yep, you guessed it. The trashy curb pickup.

Now, I can’t complain too much, because Ms. DIY did the work. She did the fixing and sanding and priming and painting and stenciling and whatever else she deemed necessary to make that table a showpiece. Her hard work equaled results. BUT . . . she first had to have the vision. Without that major component, the rest is impossible. Me? I lack the vision.

I’ve thought a lot about that since seeing that door-to-table upcycle project. Hard work is great, but without vision, it will only get you so far. The work part can be taught, but the vision? Not so much. The vision is something one is either born with or not. For those lucky enough to have the ability to look at a broken bottle and see a lamp, my hat’s off to you. I wish I had that talent. I don’t. Just buying curtains for the bedroom is too much for me, because I can’t visualize the end result. Oh, the torment of indecision! All because I lack the vision. Ms. DIY would never spend six weeks losing sleep over all the choices at Bed, Bath & Beyond. No siree. She’d recycle old prom dresses or dish towels or something and—poof!—curtains extraordinaire. And she’d do it over a weekend without even having to open a bottle of chardonnay to calm her nerves when it was over.

The saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” holds true, doesn’t it? And not just for actual trash or dumpy tables, but for other things, too. For instance, my dad never understood the popularity of rock music. Trash to him. Treasure to other generations.

The term “upcycle” was new to me. I’d not heard that before. It means to recycle something for the purpose of making it better than it was to begin with. Now, that concept I understand completely. Writers do it all the time. We may cut a paragraph or some dialogue, or even a whole scene from something we’re writing, but we don’t always dump it. Sometimes it finds a new home somewhere else in the book, and sometimes even in another story altogether. And it is common for writers to take an idea and turn it around—spin it, so to speak—to accommodate the needs of different editors. We recycle and upcycle ideas and writings, because today’s trash may be tomorrow’s treasure depending on what we’re writing. Throw-it-to-the-curb ideas sometimes turn out to be the best ones. I love it when that happens. But how to apply that upcycle writing technique to furniture and draperies?

Are you a visionary like Ms. DIY? Have you ever seen something bound for the dump that you turned into a beautiful and viable item? If you’re a writer, do you save your deleted work for possible later use?

Thanks for hanging out with me. See you next Wednesday for more of the Naked Truth!

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18 Responses to "Upcycle that Bicycle! Trash vs Treasure"

  1. Comment by Pat Wahler
    August 2, 2017 at 9:39 am  

    I’m like you, Lisa. No crafty/decorating vision at all. Instead, I search magazines to find something I like and then try to duplicate it. Sometimes I even struggle with that!

    In regard to writing, I try to hold on to snippets I feel could later be used in another piece. More than once, it’s come in handy!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:36 am  

      Another good source for ideas is model homes. I’ve come up with a bunch of good ideas just from walking through the decorated houses. Did you know the valances are often not real valances? Sometimes they’re just folded/glued fabric stapled to 2x4s, but it always looks so professional and “custom made.” Crazy. I would never have thought of that!

  2. Comment by Ann Kearney
    August 2, 2017 at 10:17 am  

    I do not have 1 oz of DIY in my bones. I throw away stuff and then see the same thing in someone’s home or yard and think what a great idea!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:37 am  

      Haha! I do the same thing, Ann!

  3. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    August 2, 2017 at 10:28 am  

    Sadly, I too lake the vision but appreciate the results! My mom and one of my daughters not only have the talent, they regularly use it!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:37 am  

      Maybe you can rub their bellies or something, Stephanie, and see if the talent rubs off. 😉

  4. Comment by Sioux Roslawski
    August 2, 2017 at 11:13 am  

    Lisa–I have no vision, but I do ooh and aah over DIY projects on Pinterest.

    Yes, I keep all my writing (digitally) and once I was able to take a memoir piece, add some fictional components, and get it published in a collection of fictional pieces. But that was only once…

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:38 am  

      If it happened once, Sioux, there’s no reason to think you won’t do it again. You never know what will come in useful down the road. 🙂

  5. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    August 2, 2017 at 11:37 am  

    I am the only person my husband knows who will destroy one thing to make another. I am going to have to show him your post. I am an upcycler. I used to do a teacher’s workshop: Trash to Treasure. My coworkers tossed any broken thing…and I refurbished it.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:41 am  

      This does not surprise me, Linda. You are both creative and motivated. I’d sure love to see some before/after photos of things you’ve created.

  6. Comment by Rob
    August 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm  

    Then there’s the guy who lined his driveway with old tires buried halfway with the exposed parts painted white. Sprinkle in some pink flamingos and you got a hillbilly paradise.

    • Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
      August 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm  

      I think we need to see a picture of that paradise!!

      • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
        August 3, 2017 at 9:42 am  

        I’m with you, Stephanie!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:42 am  

      And thus were HOAs created. lol

  7. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    August 2, 2017 at 7:49 pm  

    Well, I took a white door and put it across two black filing cabinets and thought it made a pretty chic desk. And I’ve done a couple of other small projects but with me, it’s not really lack of vision. I’m just lazy.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2017 at 9:44 am  

      Haha…I doubt the lazy. Just doing other things instead, probably? And that really is a good idea, a door on two filing cabinets. I would never have thought of that. *sigh*

  8. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    August 4, 2017 at 1:20 am  

    I’m running late this week – what else is new! I lack vision but have two friends back in Ohio who can re-purpose just about anything. Unfortunately, I’m good at picking up stuff (junk?) thinking that I’ll do something with it some day, and then I just end up with lots of clutter. 🙁

    I did re-purpose one thing a couple of years ago. Someone threw out a nice cabinet that I thought would make a great TV stand. Hubby and I put it on the back of our golf-cart and took it home. It was just what I’d been looking for. The slightly damaged top doesn’t show because the TV covers it up! 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 9, 2017 at 11:45 am  

      You’re in good company. I’ve done that, too—brought stuff home I thought I’d do something with. I bought a basket at a yard sale once. It sat around for years, unused, until I finally gave it away. I know better now. lol

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