Over the years, I have collected a few books that features elements of reuse. A couple of folks have asked for suggestions on titles that might be helpful, so here is my non-exhaustive list.
50 Fabulous Flea Market Makeovers by BJ Berti- There are several books in this series that challenge us to look differently at the trinkets, treasure and doo dads that can be found at flea markets. I love the ethic of conservation that is so intrinsic to these books. They share techniques and ideas for taking furniture, fabrics and nicknacks and turning them into something unusual. My personal favorites are the pressed glass lamps. The author show us how to take apart a lamp she found at a flea market, clean , rewire and reassemble. She also goes into how to recover a lampshade. In the back is a section on basic techniques that are alone worth the price of the book. She recommends peanut butter to remove stubborn price stickers or tape from glass and toothpaste to polish and remove light stains from marble
Real Simple's 869 New Uses for old Things - This book would have made my father and MacGyver proud. It espouses the virtue of toothpicks, aluminum foil, tape, candle wax, dryer sheets and tennis balls for uses other than their intended purpose. It is a great help for the thrifty and creative. My personal favorites are the vinegar as weed killer and stain remover and cupcake pan used as a way to keep office supplies like paper clips and rubber bands separate. (The cupcake pan was invaluable during the recent assembly of a piece of furniture from Ikea! All those different screws and hinges!) An entire page is spent on the virtues of dental floss, besides oral hygiene
Craft Challenge: Tea Towels and Pillow Cases- Both of these books feature examples of reuses for what are often forgotten raw materials. In helping a friend clear out the linen cabinet when a relative passed away, we found some gorgeous hand embroidered pillow cases. The thought of turning these into rags was more than we could contemplate. While the books require a bit more sewing skill than many folks have, they are worth contemplating. I am looking forward to finding other books in this series. My personal favorite are all the different bags. She features picnic basket/bags on the cover which is absolutely charming. I also loved the pillow case dog bed which can be washed when needed and the blouses featuring embroidered scenes commonly found on vintage pillow cases
Salvage Style- 45 Home and Garden Projects Using Reclaimed Architectural Details by Joe Rhatigan and Dana Irwin - In the SF Bay Area, it is getting harder and harder to find the really charming salvage home parts for cheap. That is a good thing because it means we value these resources but a challenge for us of the frugal bent. Several visits to relatives in the Midwest have included adventures to salvage yards with some amazing results. The author of this book features lots of lovely projects made from materials I saw a lot of in the Midwest. The reused mirror and window projects are so inspiring. I used the plant stand made from 4 shutters recently, putting a tall candle inside and slightly opening the shutters. Another project are bookends made from broken marble pieces glued to salvaged molding (for stability.)
Junk Chic by Kathryn Elliot features more pictures of projects in rooms for design purposes. My personal favorite is a table she made from a short leather-bound trunk. She attached legs on the bottom to raise it off the floor. The legs were made from wooden handrail spindles but she also suggests that the decorative portion of a fence post could be used
American Junk by Mary Randolph Carter - There are lots of interesting ideas about how to shop at a flea market and what to look for. I found her section on lampshades inspiring. Mary Randolph Carter has written 3 more books on reuse that are just as inspiring: Big City Junk, Kitchen Junk and Garden Junk. My personal favorite is the section on chairs. I found a wonderful wooden chair at the flea market but it lacked the cane seat. I used a scrap piece of plywood, padded it with foam and used a vintage curtain fabric scrap as the cover. It turned out to be the perfect accent piece for the guest bedroom
If any other titles have been inspiring to you, please log in and let me know in the comments section below.
While I am on the topic of reuse, a friend sent me a great link about aluminum foil. It shares ways to use the ubiquitous stuff in ways we hadn't thought of: http://video.about.com/frugalliving/5-Uses-For-Foil.htm