12 Green Decorating Projects: Reuse, Renew, Recycle

Happy Earth Day!! I thought it would be fun to share some easy projects for using what you already have to add a little pretty to your life / home.

1) How cute are these newspaper-wrapped gifts below? This is AMAZING because 1- you're cutting down on waste and 2- because you will never be running out to the store last-minute for gift wrap!! (image from here)

2) Save your Trader Joe's bags so you can give loved ones "brown paper packages tied up with strings!!" (Remember this brown paper bag package I did using Lindsay's pretty labels & ribbon below?)

3) I love painting over old brass candlesticks. (I know this is probably a sin to some people!!!) I get them for $1- $2 each at thrift stores or flea markets and use all shapes and sizes. This is great for parties!! (You can repaint them to suit your color scheme.)

When painted, they look like the candlesticks below. For a baby shower for a friend I bought 15 or so and painted them pale blue. (Spray paint works best but since I already had the pale blue paint and it was for a one-time party, I used regular latex paint. It does scratch but not if you're careful.) I'll post the photos later- they're in my laptop, which is dead right now. ;)

4) This works with light fixtures too and below is a photo of the living room in our old townhouse where we ripped the wiring out of an old brass chandelier, painted it white, and added candles & crystals. (I've actually painted it 3 or 4 times & repaint it whever I want a change... I like to drape with seashells in the late summer just before we go to the beach to get excited! ha) --and don't forget about your old bathroom light fixtures!!

5) Another thing I love to do (owing in part to my obession with white) is painting knick-knacks. For example, the little bird below, while pretty, might not suit your tastes..

But how about this guy? (below)

And this poor hippo is really not something I'd let in my house (sorry Hippo!!!)

But after a nice coat of paint, I'd be happy to invite him in!! (Did Darryl Savage get me in the mood for white hippos?!! ;)

6) Another easy project involving using what you already have is to make napkins & tablecloths out of the leftover fabric you've been meaning to do something with. (And of course, it's much earth-friendlier than using paper napkins!)

I'm sure you can probably figure it out but in case you're looking for more details/ dimensions, check out Apartment Therapy's directions here. And Remember the runner in the Spring Tablesetting below?

7) Fill up your empty spaghetti sauce & jam jars with ingredients for cookies & give them as gifts. Photo below from www.greenartbox.blogspot.com/ & check it out for some great kids' projects!

8) To get more organized & cut down on out-going trash, paint old shoeboxes in fun colors, add labels, and use them in your closets or on shelves. (image below from here) (You can also cover them in fabric or wrapping paper or wallpaper, but I tend to go for insanely-fast & easy with these types of projects.)

9) This might be going really far, but have you ever noticed how seriously pretty Restoration Hardware's cleaning supplies are??!

How about peeling off all the labels of your cleaners?

This way you can buy the huge ones at places like Costco and simply refill when necessary. (Saving money & space in landfills!) I like the brown bag labels in the image below (from here) or you can make your own pretty ones like Seleta did!

I also like to keep cleaning supplies under the sink in the kitchen & in every bathroom so I don't have to cart them around & because I really don' t like cleaning... They're right there so I can grab them before I change my mind!!

10) And here's something to do with your old tin cans: luminaries for all those summer nights!! (image from here) We're going to be on a tight budget in the new house & this will definitely be a cheap -ahem, I mean eco-friendly!!- way to make the back patio sparkle!! Check out simple directions here.

11) And remember these adorable little hanging jar lanterns (below)?? SO easy!!

12) Do you have mismatched, unused picture frames lying around? (I do & I know my mom & mother-in-law both do, so I'm going to pretend it's fairly normal ;) If so, then corral them all together & paint them all the same color to unify them. (I love how black looks below.) And then go ahead & put in the family photos, prints & posters you've been meaning to frame & hang them in a cool grouping. (image below from Country Living) {This might be happening in the new house}

Well, hope you enjoyed these ideas & are able to use 1 or 2!! I'd love to hear any ideas you might have on earth-friendly projects of your own!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi - LOVE this post - do you clean or do anything to the brass candlesticks prior to spray painting them?

alice said...

Lauren these are all such great ideas! I love the wrapping paper- how cute!

Lauren Jade said...

AHH! Im so in love with ALL of these Ideas!!! :D I always keep old bottles and cans and never know what to do with them.. and what kind of process do you go through for painting the brass candle holders? are there any steps to preparing them to keep the paint from peeling etc? Thanks for this post. Happy Earth Day!!

LindsB said...

Aw, you are so sweet to include my little tag in this post.

Seriously, I love all of these ideas. I think I'm going to be using more than 1 or 2, I'll prob. use them all in the future. This whole post went into my inspiration files!

Happy Earth Day! xoxo

Brooke @ Blueprint Bliss said...

Lauren- Great post!! And great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Wish I had time to paint/paper old shoe boxes so my shelves would look great!!

Lauren said...

Hi!! For painting the brass candlesticks, be sure to clean thoroughly first. Your best bet wuold then to layer on a primer for metal and then paint your desired color over that OR use a rustoleum-type spray paint. (I have to be honest here though & tell you that I never prime them & just sort of keep adding on the layers of paint... The ones I don't do as many layers on do peel/chip when bumped a lot but I just try to be careful with them & don't really have any issues.)


Windlost said...

Lauren - some beautiful ideas. I am trying to be more resourceful like this too. I have been wrapping shoe boxes and they are so much prettier than when they say Nike on the side. :)

I also love the idea of painting old knick-knacks white but was never sure what paint to use so it would not peel/chip. I have some ugly porcelain odds and ends but wonder about the paint issue. Maybe I could try special spray paint - will need to investigate!

I have a lot of catching up to do but will be back to scroll through your last month of posts asap.

Big hug and thanks for all your sweet words. I really do appreciate the support. :)

xo Terri

CarolAnne - camdesign said...

Great ideas all, I have sprayed door knobs (metal) with spray car paint from Canadian Tire in the past and it lasts about 2 years...
Then I just spray it again
Regards, CAM

Maria Killam said...

Love the painted candlestick idea! You are just full of great ideas actually!! Great post!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Loved your green ideals, I had never thought of painting things like the little bird...I will be using that one.

Linda in AZ * said...

* Lauren, it's always a joy to visit you here, & today is no exception! It's like a breath of fresh air, & you've provided delightful approaches to "making white" while "going green"!

You just might want/should (?) end the NEXT blog, like THIS one, with a graaannnnd hand flourish and a "TA DAAAA!"~~~ You've earrrrrnnned it!"~~~

Smiles n warm wishes,
Linda in AZ *

Simple Daisy said...

Great ideas!! I know I am always re-purposing something I have!! I think everything I own has at least 4 coats of different colored paint on it!!! Have a great day~

My Galveston Cottage said...

Lauren, These ideas and tips are absolutely wonderful. I'm going to save these. Love the painted animals, candle holders and chandelier!! So cool. Great post. Thanks for sharing, -susan

Fargerike Dagny said...

Awesome ideas, I really love what you do with the candle sticks and I do exactly the same with my vintage frames. Paint and group!! I absolutely love the Restoration Hardware cleaning supplies, why on earth don't they ship to Norway?? Thanks for still following my blog, even though I'm not posting as regularly as I used to. Hopefully I'll get more time on my hands, but my daughter is just all over the place these days. She doesn't start in daycare until August, so I don't think things will calm down before she's there during the day.

How are things going with the house? I'm guessing you have every room planned out already.. :) I'm just amazed at how slow things are going here. We have to prioritize the kitchen this summer, and it just halts everything else. So not much happening in our home to put it like that.

big hug d

Mike & Tanya Koets said...

Love this post! Can't wait to use all or most of the ideas in our home! Thanks!

yvonne said...

What a great post - I can't decide which idea is my favorite. I'm so glad I found your blog.

Unknown said...

What a great post. I love the idea of newspaper wrapped gifts. I have a friend that is an architect and my gifts from him are always wrapped in his cast-off blueprints. I want to save them and frame them...re-cycle, re-use!!

Lauren's best friend said...

love the candlestick idea. i have some gross silver ones from ikea that need a little work.

Michelle said...

Great ideas Lauren...thanks so much! Those cleaners LOOK beautiful too!

I also like using kraft paper for wrapping presents...and foreign newspapers.

Take care,

Millie said...

Bravo Lauren - simple, easy ideas that we can all do! I love making my own gift tags using plain cardstock, Cavallini stamps & cute ribbon.
Millie ^_^

Fran said...

Love your post! Can you provide more specifics on what specific process you used to paint the brass chandelier...primer?, what type of paint/spray paint?, etc...


teaorwine said...

Awesome suggestions! i try hard to get a second use out of everything, for sure.

Rumadelima said...

Really nice ideas about repainting:) Thanks a lot, Lauren:)