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Upcycling is Upending a World of Waste

Pottery shards adhered to an upcycled bathtub

Pottery shards adhered to a cast iron bathtub that has been upcycled into a garden planter.

Earth day lands on April 22nd this year, and I’ve already started to think about being green, and our responsibility to the world around us. In Americans’ quest for the new, hot, ‘thing’ it’s easy to overlook the treasures of the past, but the mid-century furniture, art glass, and other beautifully designed pieces I work with every day still have a place in our lives.

At Skinner we like to think we are doing our part in creating an atmosphere that praises green consumerism. Selling or purchasing great modern design items that have been passed down from previous owners is not only a great way to decorate your home, it saves on the energy and resources that go into creating brand new furnishings.

As an appraiser of art and antiques, I recognize not only the beauty, but the potential of an object with excellent design. That’s why I’ve become so interested in the concept of upcycling – the act of taking something thought to be disposable and giving it new life and greater value. While recycling usually means breaking down used materials to start from scratch and create something new, upcycling keeps the essence of the original object and makes it more desirable.

For example, the pared down, cool, clean lines of mid-century modern furniture and decorative arts have steadily increased in popularity in recent years. Even a damaged teak credenza or chest with little worth can gain new life in the hands of a creative home decorator: it could be upcycled into a vanity hung on the wall, with a double or a single sink on top, providing storage below.

Auctions are all about finding new stewards for belongings, whether based on the original intent for the object, or an entirely new one. Auction houses facilitate reuse–we help find new homes for antiques and collectibles. Mid-century design auctions and other Skinner auctions can also be a terrific venue for spotting items ready to be upcycled. Objects with beautiful design that are made from quality materials can take on new life in a new home.

Remember, antiques are green: great design and materials might not fit your current taste, but will find a place in someone else’s heart.

3 thoughts on “Upcycling is Upending a World of Waste

  1. I have to agree, old items and even unsightly and broken ones can be brought back to usefulness and beauty. All it takes is a different point of view, imagination and some skill. When I see something old or damaged, I always think of ways how it can be repaired or re-purposed so that it can be brought back to life and function.

  2. Nicely said. Also, with all of the upcycling pieces it’s wonderful to know that each piece has a history. That’s much more than can be said about something at Ikea!

  3. Pingback: Eco Friendly Products | SaleAbration

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