Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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 & 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!!!