Restyled Folding Chairs

Left: battered old chair Right: old chair is painted & seat is recovered

Thank you to one of our Irish Attic readers, Sam Marquit – independent contractor and green building enthusiast – for submitting the article below.

Recycling is an important part of conservation efforts and environmentally friendly lifestyles. However, it has a rarely used cousin that is even more helpful. This method is upcycling. It is the act of taking unwanted materials and turning it into something new. The materials used in upcycling are of less cost than new materials, making upcycling cost effective. As a result, it is has continued to rise in popularity, especially in the United States.

In 2010-2011, upcycled products on the popular shopping site Etsy increased by nearly 300%, a few months later, it had increased again by nearly 450%. The fact that upcycling seems to be gaining in popularity is great news for the environment. It is something we all can do to decrease the negative impact we have on our surroundings every day. The popularity of this is easy to see. I stumbled upon a really cool idea, “Restyled Folding Chairs”. All you need is spray paint, fabric, drill and screwdriver. Below are the steps:

1. Using a drill (or screw driver) unscrew the cushions from your chairs. (put the screws somewhere you won’t lose them, you’ll have to screw the cushion back in later.
2. In a well-ventilated area (I did it outside) spray paint your chairs and let them dry completely.
3. Cover your old cushion with new fabric and wrap it around onto the backside. Staple or use a strong adhesive to secure the fabric on the back. Tip: an even “greener” option would be to use repurposed fabric rather than new fabric. Maybe a curtain or tablecloth with a hold or stain or a skirt that you no longer want to wear but that would work great on your chair.
4. Screw your cushions back onto your chairs.


After: chairs are painted a glossy blue & recovered with recycled fabric.

Even big businesses, such as hotels, can use this concept to decrease their eco footprints. Las Vegas’ The Palazzo Hotel and Resort is a place that takes upcycling to a brilliant level. They have completely overhauled their practices and materials in hopes of achieving sustainability. They convert their trash and waste into energy for the hotel. They also have solar panels that power the various heating units. It’s work like this that earned the hotel the title of “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.”

The real quality behind The Palazzo Hotel and Resort’s upcycling efforts is its self-sustainability and they are not the only ones turning to these methods to be greener and more environmentally aware. New York City hotels sit in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. If there was any place that could make a big change by upcycling, it is New York. Some hotels there are leading the way into a greener future. The Earthcare program at ink48 Hotels is another example of responsible hospitality.

Regardless of how well self-sustaining upcycling methods work, there are always other ways to help. It is really encouraging to see large organizations and businesses practicing upcycling by turning unwanted materials into something needed. It’s important for more and more businesses to catch on and realize there is value in turning their trash into treasure. The Palazzo in just one example of the many hotels in Las Vegas that are turning trash into treasure. What an impact it would make if all hotels around the world followed suit!

If any Irish Attic readers have a project you would like to submit, please feel free to contact me at info (at) irishattic (dot) net.

How to Make a Blue Braided Rug

If you want a unique focal point for your floor think about making a braided rug in shades of soft blue and white. Braided rugs are made by braiding a long stretch of rope and then coiling it into a pattern and stitching the coils together tightly to keep them in place. The braids can be made from natural fibers like cotton, sisal or jute, or artificial fibers like nylon. The actual braiding is done using a technique called flatbed, to make sure the rug doesn’t have uncomfortable bumps and ridges.

An interesting suggestion that works well for a modern, largely white or Scandinavian style room is it to make a blue rug by braiding rags in various shades of blue and white taken from old clothes, jeans, towels, or anything mainly blue that can be braided and stitched. The method is quite simple. You cut the fabric into strips, making sure that you take out any seams, buttons, zippers or fasteners as these items won’t braid smoothly and will destroy the flatbed effect and you join the strips into long lengths.

Braiding is usually done using three strands of material, but you can use multiples of three, depending on how narrow or thick you want the braid to be. Thick braids have better tensile strength, making the rug tougher, but they will also reduce the flatness of the rug. To make a braid, you can stitch the three strands together at the top, or make a knot, and then fasten them onto a firm surface like a pillar. Braid the three strips as tightly as you can. The tighter the braid, the smoother the rug. Remember that the rug should be made of one continuous braid, so once your strips run out, attach more material by stitching the ends of new strands on the old ones. Do the joining carefully to maintain the smoothness of the braid.

Once you have a long enough braid, coil the whole long braid into shape. Round and oval rugs are the most common shapes, but you can be creative and come up with something different. Stitch the coils firmly in place, and if you wish, reinforce the bonds by stitching a backing material to the lower side of the mat. It can be rubber, nylon or raffia. You now have your very own blue braided rug, and you have also helped the environment by recycling fabric.

How To Make A Braided Rug

Heat Curtain

Last winter I decided that I was going to put to use several quilts that are typically stored in the cupboard for guests and so rarely make an appearance. I used curtain clips to hang each one on a spring rod, then placed them around the house in areas that would help to corral the heat.  One went across a stairwell, but it was easy to push it aside to go up and down the stairs. Another hung at the beginning of a hallway and another in the doorway of a rarely used formal dining room.

Drink Cozies from Recycled Denim Jeans

Take a look at DocPop’s giant beer cozies made from a pair of recycled denim jeans. He also has a link to his coffee cup cozies, also made from recycled clothing. At this time of this posting his Etsy shop had sold out, but check it out as he restocks regularly. Even if you don’t buy anything, he’s got lots of pics and some great ideas for re-using items. In fact he advertises that all items are “remade in USA” LOL