Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Upcycling in Your Home

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Recycling’s trendy sibling, upcycling is becoming more popular, and it may be a way to save money in your own home.



Have you inherited furniture? Have you ever seen a chair by the side of the road that would (almost) fit your needs? Have you seen an old kitchen cabinet that could be used  as a work bench? We often recycle pieces of furniture. When my wife had a garage sale to raise money for a cancer patient recently, she and her sisters put up various chairs and other pieces for sale. In the end, I felt that all that we accomplished was changing chairs from one house to the other. I was thinking how the look of my home has changed over the years simply by making finds, so I guess that I could be called an avid recycler, even though I never avidly pursued recycling. However, there is a stigma associated with recycling items into your home. The mismatched pieces make the recycling obvious. This is where design and artistic flair comes into play, creating the upcycling trend.
    What I like about the upcycling concept is the repurposing of goods for a new life. I met an artist who takes any number of common items in your home for new use in that home. My wife make rags out of old clothes. You may do this too. She does not do anything to change their appearance, except maybe ripping them; the clothes become rags, and that is it. This artist was making dish towels by a method that reminded me of quilting (taking different cloths to make a pattern). I have seen cabinet parts used to make chairs; chairs to make tables; and cabinets made from scrap wood. The new piece may reveal its previous life, but frequently the new piece does suggest the older item.
    We should see this trend as different from refurbishing. Refurbishing is reupholsterling a couch; stripping and restaining a credenza. Any piece that I am inheriting goes through a degree of refurbishing. It is not too hard to do. Upcycling appeals to me, since all bets are off. Your imagination can fly to create something new. When you are using a material like particle board, you can paint it or use a laminate over it to help create the new effect. (Many cabinets have particle board components). I find that painting disparate parts one color makes a pieces look as if it was always one item. I think if we want to reduce our expenses, we may wish to think how can the garbage going out of our home be used for something else that we need. We used to do this. I love going to preserved older homes where regular folks lived. Mansions are wonderfully, but an old farmhouse shows you how people made due. Walk through a craft store, and you may find ideas to help you recycle your goods.
    The new reality is that we cannot maintain our disposable consumer culture. Whether this is due to your environmental concerns or due to your financial situation, we cannot afford our past behavior. Refurbishing is great, but upcycling really allows us to go further.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States
713.781.6090

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