While madly searching for the better breadbox, sometimes it winds up that what we have, or had, will do just fine.

This is a point I often rediscover when I sort through my own collection of furniture, rugs, lamps and other household trappings on a mission to declutter and refresh my home.

Recycling and repurposing is so much a part of the mainstream now that we have begun again to cherish worn patinas, slightly battered wood and good-quality fabrics that may be a little threadbare in spots.

Our parents and grandparents were far more likely to value the art of collecting and keeping good-quality furnishings. Then there came an era of overconsumerism, when “buy it, use it and toss it” became the norm.

Preserving what we have that is good, that is strong and well-made is quite comforting.

More companies are adopting the principle that protecting the environment is key to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, and this will make good business sense in the long run. It takes imagination and research to work within these parameters, but our future depends on it.

I came across the website, environmentfurniture.com and was initially enthused by its modern design sense.

Benches, tables, chairs and dressers all had a unique and appealing style, and I felt myself relax just looking at the comfy sofas. True to its name, the pieces are all made with recycled, reclaimed or repurposed wood and canvas.

Canvas? Yes, the sofa and chair upholstery is recycled army tent fabric; aging, wear, patches and other imperfections are inherent to the character of the canvas, and this well-worn patina will continue to develop over time.

Innovative products are often quite expensive, but if it’s too much for your budget, then take away the ideas and make them yours. I’m checking out the kids’ old camp tent, and that well-worn rug that’s rolled up in the attic would look fine on the porch.


DEAR DEBBIE: I love my big back-split house, built in 1979. There are popcorn ceilings in all of the four bedrooms, dining room, living room and den. I know these are an eyesore, but what can we do without spending a fortune? — Sheila


DEAR SHEILA: I receive a lot of e-mails asking how to deal with this problem, and there is no quick solution. They are difficult to clean, and the pointy edges seem to be a magnet for spider webs and dirt.

Refinishing all the ceilings in your home would be a costly endeavor. I suggest you freshen them up with a coat of white paint.

If you haven’t painted them before, begin with a gentle vacuum cleaning to capture any loose dirt. Then apply an oil-based primer or paint with a roller. Water-based paint will be absorbed by the popcorn surface, and it will pull off the texture.

Always wear goggles when working on a ceiling to protect your eyes from spatters and bits of plaster.

You can add color or molding details to one or two rooms for some variation.

Why not build a little character into the dining room or den with ceiling beams? This traditional look helps create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.

Stuccoed and beamed ceilings are prevalent in older homes — the textured surface covers cracks and imperfections that inevitably appear on ceilings.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to: [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.