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Whether you want to change items that you already own or desperately need some budget-conscious ways to begin defining your holiday style, you can start by repurposing, reusing, recycling, and restyling what you already have.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Olaf Seier 2012] Credit: ©iStockphoto.com / Olaf Seier 2012

Repurposing items for décor

Repurposing means to use an item that’s normally used for one thing (like a throw or painter’s drop cloth made of cotton canvas) and change it into something else for another function, like turning it into pillows or a slipcover. Repurposing items can mean simply looking at new retail items in a different light.

A copper kettle can become a fireplace accent by holding mounds of scented pinecones that are ready to be tossed into the fire. Think about transforming items from their usual purpose into something else. Repurposing is one of the more creative ways of turning new and previously owned items into works of art.

Reusing items can save you big bucks when decorating for the holidays. Items that are reusable for decorating, such as menorahs, wreaths, bows, and twinkle lights, can save you money. The idea here is to invest once and then use many times for many holidays.

White lights, for example, are heavily used at Christmas. But couldn’t you warm up a romantic Valentine’s Day night by stringing some up on a balcony or porch for a chilly, snuggly nightcap?

Use your lights on fences, rope off festivity parameters that may be hard to see in the dark, or wind them around tree limbs for lighting your evening from above. You can take individual items from one holiday into the next in many ways if you just plan in advance.

Recycling items for creative decoration

Recycling means taking an item that’s meant for the trash and turning it into a decorative item. For example, connect clean, empty jars (vintage or hodgepodge) together with aluminum wire, making them into sparkling tealight holders. A roadside chair, with the caning busted out of the seat, turns into a Thanksgiving decorating treasure by placing a large potted mum inside the opening for a welcoming autumnal feel at Thanksgiving.

Yes, you have to be somewhat crafty, and you can’t be afraid of cleaning things. Most of all, you have to be daring enough to dive into a pile of rubble to get to that section of picket fencing in order to recycle it into a Halloween vignette.

Freshen up items for restyled décor

Restyling makes ready-made items better. Take a slipcover and embellish it! Have an old wreath? Take out faded flowers or ornaments and add new items or a fresh bow. What about old ornaments? Embellish your heart out. Restyling takes items to a new, personalized level.

You can breathe new life into an item by updating it or giving it a whole new look. Restyling is perfect for you if you’re the type of person who never accepts things as they are and says, “But wait till I get my hands on it!”

About This Article

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Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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