House & Home

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

Posted November 2, 2014

Last season I mentioned how I grew up close to my grandmother who never threw anything away and I spent my childhood in a sea of craft and renovation projects. While I learned how to make something unique out of ordinary pieces, it was not until I was much older that I learned why this concept of preserving was important. As a history major, I spent my undergraduate years pouring over books, diaries and documents.

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

I was, and still am, completely fascinated with how things were and how we can learn from the past. You could say that sentimentality is a large part of my chemical makeup which makes the South and all of its wonderful, nostalgic charm the perfect place for me to live and raise my own family.

I also find that the home building industry is so complementary to my love of all things old as well as my excitement for new and fresh looks and styles. When you wrap those elements into the rooms and characteristics of a home, whether recently built or well-loved, it is my perfect combination and I enjoy finding that inspiration among other builders as well.

"[If I could] describe the vision and inspiration of Chatham Row Homes at Flowers Plantation in a few words, it would be- ‘Preserving the South’,” said Jordan Finch, Contractor/Builder at Grey Heron Construction.

Finch, one of the builders at Flowers Plantation, mixed his familial knowledge of the construction industry with a degree in Historic Preservation to create a company which builds traditional-style homes that complement the local history. He accomplishes this feat by using repurposed and reclaimed features in all of the homes. Throughout his childhood, Finch lived in various Southern cities such as Charleston, Savannah and Williamsburg where he came to understand and appreciate “The Old South.”

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

“Seeing all of these old homes and the old southern lifestyle, it was hard not to want to preserve and build something like that. Watching all of the houses going up on our family's farm with the economic boom around 2005-2006, it was difficult observing the fact that there was a lack in character and historical features. I just felt like there were very few houses that would look great in 50 years or that anyone would desire to rebuild,” claimed Finch.

Other local and regional builders, including Arthur Rutenberg Homes, are using reclaimed wood rescued from old barns, factories and warehouses in their homes as well. Arthur Rutenberg builders have partnered on occasion with local reclaimed lumber companies to gather “architectural remnants from older homes, barns and other historical buildings” as they wanted to convey a style that merged rustic, green and modern, according to Jeff Logsdon with Arthur Rutenberg Homes. Some of their more popular projects include reclaimed wood in a great room, a reclaimed fireplace surround from an older home in Lillington and yellow pine taken from an old barn in Benson for one of their most recent model homes.

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

“One homeowner loves telling the story of using green aspects in her home design and her antique mantle coming from an old North Carolina family home of over one hundred years old,” says Logsdon. “Another is thrilled that we can install her own handcrafted stained glass in three special windows in her new home. Most of the reaction is being highly impressed that they can incorporate such personal and beautiful architectural details in their home and wind up showing all their family and friends.”

Logsdon emphasizes that it is important that the homeowners understand “they are the main focus and we want each and every one of them to have personal meaning in their home, whether it’s from handpicked reclaimed wood from an old manor home [in North Carolina] or a special wine cellar to store their collection of rare wines. We want to give the customer a chance, not only to be green, but to also share in the history of this great state that we live in at the same time.”

While it is extremely popular, reclaimed wood is just one of the many ways that you can include a little of the past in your home. Use some of the natural elements from the land around you such as stone and rock or find glass and metals from older buildings to give your home another chapter to its story. Remember that when it comes to repurpose and redesign that, as long as you give respect to the materials you are using and pay homage to their history, there is no wrong. Your style will be reflected in your efforts and their history will be showcased through your style.

Incorporating repurposed pieces into your home helps add interest and character to your living spaces. Eddie Johnson, owner of Salvage Gypsy in Raleigh, has carpentry in his blood and a love for repurposing forgotten pieces into beautiful one-of-a-kind treasures. “As a boy my dad was a very resourceful and hardworking man. He believed in saving money at every opportunity so by the time I was 9 years old I was helping him tear down old houses so we could get the lumber to build a shed and a workshop of his own. It was then that I began my education of how they built things in the old days and how the lumber was hand hewn from aged trees.....heart pine and others, some as old as from the early settler days,” said Johnson.

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

"My passion is in the history of the pieces...the stories that the old things have to tell. I enjoy hearing all about where my finds have been before they become my creations," Johnson says. Right now the trends are moving towards old wooden pallet transformations and barn doors indoors- simple items being restored and used in unconventional ways. Salvage Gypsy has a motto -- Re-Use, Re-Purpose, Re-Cycle and Re-Store. By putting these "4 Rs" to use, you truly can add an extra layer of charm and individuality to your home.

Repurpose and reuse: The art of preservation

I truly love being surrounded by rich history in the form of antiques, furniture, knick-knacks and books but what captivates me most is the land, and the homes that sit upon that land. When we repurpose or reuse, it is not just to be kind to the environment or because it is the latest trend in interior design, rather there should be a desire to preserve our heritage, to weld together the past and the present to create something amazing for the future.

If you look closely you can see stories being told under gracious oak trees, refurbished keepsakes passed on to the next generation and homes filled with so much character that it spills out onto their wide front porches.


Repurpose & Reuse interview featuring Cari from HGTV's "Cash & Cari"

Cari Cucksey from HGTV's "Cash & Cari"

New Homes & Ideas Publisher Jodi Sauerbier had the pleasure of interviewing estate sale guru Cari Cucksey from HGTV's "Cash & Cari" at the Atlanta Country Living Show at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Georgia, where Cari offers some insight into her show and her craft.

Jodi: What type of item do you gravitate to when looking for that perfect "Cari" piece to carry away?

Cari: That's easy! The older, the uglier, the better. I like to build off of the original beauty that the item once had.”

Jodi: What type of items do you repurpose within your own home?

Cari: Funny that you ask...I am in the process of building a new home and we are looking into repurposing wood options.

Jodi: Okay, less serious question. On your show "Cash & Cari", that appears on HGTV, it seems that you and Big Haus like to banter. Is this just for the cameras and dramatic effect?

Cari: Ha! Definitely not, Haus is like a little brother. I adore him, but the banter is definitely real. However, he is like family and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jodi: I understand that you have your own shop where people can explore your findings from "Cash & Cari" for their homes. Where is it located and what type of treasures can be found there?

Cari: A whole lot of great old unique stuff, mixed with a little bit of cool new stuff. Definitely something for everyone!

The shop is called RePurpose and is located at 5930 Commerce Drive, Westland, MI 48185.


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