Don’t you just love the internet? Millennials, you don’t know how lucky you are, that learning about something, anything, is always within reach in just a matter of minutes!

In my day, we had to go to a library. First stop was the card catalog where we searched through drawers and drawers of cards to look for the book we wanted. So yeah, we had to know the subject, the author, the title of the book, before we could get our hands on some information. Knowing the ISBN was a plus. What’s that, you ask? Google it.

Card catalog

This is what is called the analog cataloging system, which has been declared officially dead by the Ohio College Library Center a couple of years ago.

So now you have these card catalogs around the world that have lost their main function. But in fairness, they’ve been elevated to the status of antiques or vintage, so it just takes a creative mind to find another purpose for their existence.

Have you ever seen those beautiful Chinese apothecary cabinets? They, on the other hand, are still very much in use nowadays.

Chinese apothecary cabinets

This reminds me of a visit I made to the Makati Postal Office a few days ago. I saw rows and rows of mailboxes, with some missing their locks. In its heyday, maybe it must have been posh to have such a thing, like a safe deposit box in some big bank where the elite stash their gold.

Mailboxes at the Makati Post Office, photo by Carla Marie Adlawan
Mailboxes at the Makati Post Office, photo by Carla Marie Adlawan

I don’t know if these mailboxes are still being used. I found them beautiful.

But I’m digressing.

I wanted to talk about repurposing things for the home. Some of them are so common, you’d think their reason for being is their current function.

Mason Jars

These jars were named after their maker, John Landis Mason. He patented this invention in 1858, or 159 years ago. He invented this so that people could have something to use for home canning to preserve food.

Now of course, you see them everywhere, and you can buy them anywhere. Some are even huge in case you’d like to have something other than those clunky plastic containers that suppliers of drinking water use.

There are those who like to use tea light candles at home for ambience (never mind that it’s so hot these days), so they could use the mason jar in this way.

Wine Bottles

From jars, let’s go to (wine) bottles, which have been repurposed into lamps.

These lamps give such a lovely retro vibe.  But these are not as easy to make unless you are a DIY guru. If you do want to experiment, proceed at your own risk.

Vintage Luggages

So from making those pendant lamps, let’s go to something simple. All you need to do is trawl your ancestral home or a flea market, and hope you find some luggages like these. Stack them up and voila, you’ve got a table, which can double as storage for things that you seldom use.

Or if this is too simple for you, you can add some inspiring wall art beside it. Channel your inner Mark Twain, and put something like:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. 

Personally, I find that too long, so if it were my wall,  I’d do something like this.

Tin Cans

If I had a hut by the beach, I’d go for many of these, make a grouping, or have them all over the place.

Keep the cans after you’ve eaten the contents, wash them, dry them. Then during your walks on the beach, look for some shells. Don’t be such a perfectionist, the weathered and broken ones are nice too. Glue them on in any way you like. This is your obra maestra, go for it!

Apologies to those who think, “Take only photos, leave only footprints, and leave nature alone!”

Or you could use twine or rope like this.

Or paint it in a bold color and add some polka dots, like this.

If you’ve got a vintage watering can like this lying around, then repurpose it. Long live the regadera!

The planting I will leave up to you since I have a black thumb. But I would go for succulents; they’re so now. Since daisies are hard to come by, use a plant you find around you like gumamela, bougainvillea, kalachuchi, or just some green leaves.

Coconut Shells

We’re still at the beach hut, and this being the Philippines, coconuts are plentiful. So after enjoying them, don’t throw away the shells, use them as bowls instead. This is as organic a material as you can get.

You can eat anything out of these coconut shells and get an instant vacay feeling…on your vacay.

Things as Wall Art

Hats, oars, plates, embroidery hoops, anything you’ve hoarded through the years, treat them like art and hang them up. Make sure that the things would look good against the wall. If not, repaint the wall.


Centavo Floor

I copied the idea from this Penny Floor video on YouTube. However, this is such an ambitious project, and if you look at it, these guys are experts. It takes them several days as experts, how long do you think it will take you or me, if we dare?

So practice first. Cover a nondescript stool or a table that looks like it should have gone into retirement. Better yet, start with a small tray. Now that is manageable, I think.

Get the feel of it even before beginning to start thinking about doing a floor.

Brave Enough to Start?

There you go, several things that you can repurpose. You don’t need a lot of money to make your place look good. However, a lot of creativity and chutzpah are required.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so first open your eyes. Then flex those creative muscles and believe in your power to make things look good.



Annie is the Managing Editor of Let it B | MyBoysen Blog. An unrepentant workaholic, she runs this blog and her own company Talking Lions ( She thrives on collaborating with people who are good at what they do, and working together with them to create something special. Annie learned interior styling while managing her own wholesale business in the Netherlands, importing high-end, handmade home furnishings to stock four outlets and a showroom in the country.

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