Repurposing: From Chic Eats to Stuff for Keeps

As 2016 rolls out, the trendy concept of repurposing continues to influence nearly every part of our daily lives. About a year ago, the trash-to-table restaurant pop-up called, WaistED (NYC), linked a community of chefs, farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, designers and retailers together. Celebrity chefs from across the country, pitched in and offered to produce some of the most creative and delicious menus made from food scraps.

San Francisco-based company ReGrained, owned by Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz, manufactures bread and granola bars containing spent grain, which is used grain from beer brewing.

Long before the Swedish furniture retainer IKEA landed on the shore of America with its buy-and-assemble-it concept, Americans were doing their own version. Most noticeable was the use of cinder blocks and boards to assemble homemade bookcases, shelves for albums (LPs), and even makeshift pantries to hold canned goods, spices, pots and pans.

If you decide to take on a DYI home decorating project with a repurposing approach, think far beyond those cinder blocks. Here are a few ideas:

Closed Department Stores

Pittsburgh-based graphic designers, Greg Coll and Doris Short, repurposed several decorative items from two closed department stores, Kaufmanns and Saks Fifth Avenue. A Chanel fragrance counter from Saks now serves as a bar filled with liquor bottles, glassware and a small Chanel shrine. Both Coll and Short share a beautifully restored 126-year-old row house where their classic Chanel bar resides – probably the only one in the world.


Photo credit: Greg Coll

Hotel Furniture Liquidators

When flat screen televisions became en vogue, hotels around the world unloaded their armoires to liquidators and resale shops. In 2008, I purchased a mahogany armoire from Chicago-based Fort Pitt Furniture. This beautiful piece of furniture which originally retailed for $6000, came from NYC’s St. Regis Hotel. I paid a mere $399! Fort Pitt Furniture is one of the country’s premier liquidators of 4 and 5-star hotel furniture with inventory pieces from the Four Seasons, Peninsula and St. Regis. I’ve repurposed this armoire into a coffee and cocktail modular bar as shown below.


Photo credit: Antoinette Simpson

Save Your favorit Champagne and Wine Bottles

Ted and Donna Feaster, owners of Feaster Glassworks, design beautiful stained glass artwork. Ted took on the task of repurposing a few of my favorite keepsake Champagne bottles. He made candle holders (pictured above) and cocktail/iced tea glasses. A coating of polyurethane was added to the bottle labels for waterproofing.


Photo credit: Antoinette Simpson

Finally, The Plaza Hotel (NYC) is also getting into the repurposing business. This hotel is selling jewelry (earrings and necklaces), crafted from 24 of its massive 1920’s-1930’s Baccarat crystal chandeliers. The newly crafted jewelry can be purchased in the hotel’s gift shop. Each piece costs about $150.

The next time you are in the mood for a DIY project, be sure to take a look around your home to see what you can repurpose to create your next design and dine masterpiece that will be a hit with friends and family.

Have a DIY repurposed project to share?  Please send an email to so we can share or feel free to post below.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more entertaining tips and ideas througout the year.  You can also visit me online at for any food and beverage questions.   

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Wilbert Jones is the president of The Wilbert Jones Company – a food product development and marketing company founded in 1993. He has authored three award winning cookbooks and was the host of the PBS television series, “Healthy Heritage Kitchen” in 2008.