Renewed life: Skilled hands give old, used items new purposes

Every day hundreds of people across the Las Vegas Valley put things in their trash cans without giving them a second thought. But many of those things still have some life in them, especially when they fall into the hands of creative and innovative people.

Now, they are giving these same items a second look.

"Old stuff has memories, good memories," said Rick Dale of Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas. "Why buy something new when you can take something old and restore it?"

Dale, who has brought the art of restoration to the spotlight with his television show "American Restoration" on the History channel, believes that restoring items is better for people as well as the environment.

"It’s good for the soul. You feel like you have accomplished something and can be really proud of it," he said.

The same holds true for keeping tons of material out of the landfill, as Bottles & Wood does with its line of recycled glassware.

"Glass takes 4,000 years to decompose in a landfill," said Steve Cherry, CEO of Bottles & Wood.

The Las Vegas-based company, which was started recently, takes glass bottles, particularly liquor, wine and beer bottles, and transforms them into drinking glasses, vases, candle holders, serving pieces and jewelry. The bottles come primarily from hotels and bars along the Strip, but Cherry said the company also plans to purchase them from community groups and area residents.

In addition to recycling glass, Bottles & Wood takes old barrels used to age wine to create serving pieces and transforms old shipping pallets into display stands and nesting tables.

Garage sale and flea markets are a great source of materials for Anita Holland of Las Vegas, who takes odd items and turns them into planters, and Heidi Rosen of Las Vegas, who finds old pieces of furniture or accessories and glamorizes them.

Holland said she uses her finds as homes for her collection of succulents that she sells at area farmers markets through her company Stuff, Sweetie.

"I’ve always collected vintage pottery, old found wood, candleholders and tin cans I find while hiking Mount Charleston," she said.

In addition to items that you expect to see a plant in, Holland has used old toys, canning jars, egg cups, margarita glasses and large shells as planters.

"I found a lot of preloved items that could be glammed up or painted and distressed," said Rosen, who showcases her work in her Reclaimed Eclectica booth 102 at Antiques at the Market. "I love to take super-rough things and transform them into something amazing."

Rosen said she just gives the items she finds a look she would like to see in her own home – which is where many of her creations often find themselves.

The side table next to her sofa started out as file drawers from an old lawyers desk, stray table legs and a piece of reclaimed wood. When she and her husband, Jason Rosen, put them together and set the table next to their sofa to take a picture, they liked the way it looked so much that the table became a permanent part of their living room décor.

Though she has a preference for a worn or weathered industrial look, Rosen said she is inspired by the pieces.

Part of what drives her is her love of a good bargain. She said she would much rather invest the labor and a little bit of paint into creating something for her home than just go to the store and spend a lot of money.

Old furniture literally gets the star treatment from Michelle DiMauro and Heather Soto of Inhabit Design in Las Vegas. Playing up the rehab theme, DiMauro and Soto name all the rehabilitated furniture for their Furniture +Rehab Project after celebrities who have sought treatment for their addictions.

The Lindsays, for example, started out as dated white wicker outdoor chairs and became kelly green chairs with striped cushions in muted shades of green, blue, brown, orange and yellow. Classic wing chairs, the Whitney and Bobby were given a fresh look by painting the exposed wood a slate color and using a striped fabric on the face and pattern on the back, both in orange tones.

DiMauro and Soto have discovered that a coat of a new, fresh color of paint and a modern fabric can take something dated or worn out and turn it into a unique designer-created accent for the home.

They know restored pieces get people’s attention. It was how they started their repurposed furniture business. DiMauro said they were looking for a way to bring people into their office, which was located in the arts district, during First Fridays.

"As a design studio, we sell our services and we wanted to sell something out of our office," DiMauro said.

After moving to a different location, they began selling their creations on Etsy as well as their website.

DiMauro said the furniture they fix up are just things that catch their eyes when they are looking for furnishings and home décor items for clients.

Though they don’t do the work themselves, DiMauro said they select all the fabrics and paint colors that are used on their rehabbed pieces.

Holland said she was inspired to turn her collection into something more useful after seeing similar items in a local boutique.

"They were wildly expensive. It went from we can do this to a business," she said.

In fact, Holland’s business is a repurposing of another sort. She said she started Stuff, Sweetie when she couldn’t find a job after being let go from her longtime position last year.

"If I can’t find a job, I’ll make a job," she said. "I’ve gone from high heels to dirty fingernails. And I love it."

Creating jobs also was a factor in Cherry and Ossa’s decision to start Bottles & Wood.

"Our strategy is really a community exercise to build a sustainable business," Cherry said.

Calling Las Vegas the perfect storm, he said they were able to obtain manufacturing space at a good price, a nearly unlimited source of raw materials in a concentrated area and generate dozens of jobs.

"We turn trash into jobs," he said.

He had a similar business in Southern California, but it was too costly to purchase the glass and operate a manufacturing facility.


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