The message is not a new one… Instagram and Pinterest are full of fabulous examples of items being used in unexpected ways… the old ladder being used as a towel rack, wooden milk crates being used as wall shelves, or architectural elements like doors and windows being used as décor. Using unexpected items in new and interesting ways introduces an element of warmth and interest, as well as allowing us to put a creative and personal stamp on our space.

The ashtray in my feature photo was purchased by my mother in India decades ago. I have had it with me since college, but it sat in a drawer for many years because I couldn’t see beyond its original purpose… until one day when I decided it would be the perfect piece to hold eucalyptus hand scrub in a powder room. It is wonderful having it out on display in such an unexpected way!

Throughout the years I have gathered pieces found mostly from my grandfather’s cattle ranch in Montana, or from family travels through Europe and Asia. These pieces now grace my home, often times in ways that their creators probably never intended. A chofa from the 1800’s sits on the corner of a desk in the living room, and the coffee table centerpiece is an Indian urlui. My father always chuckles when he sees old gate locks and singletrees from the ranch intermingled with art and Thai textiles on a gallery wall, but truth-be-told I think he loves seeing new life being brought to these utilitarian pieces from his childhood. I certainly do!

Below, I’ve gathered a few favorite repurposed items to share with you, both from my own collection and elsewhere:


Using unexpected items like the wings of a windmill as décor or as a ceiling fan makes a statement!

*source: Laundry Basket Quilts (

Architect’s Canoe Maquette:

A model used to construct canoes. Other interesting forms that can be used as display include shoe and hat molds.

*source: Restoration Hardware (

Indonesian Oyster Branches:

Placed in the water by fisherman to culture oysters and mussels, which would grow on the wood, leaving a unique texture after many years of use.

*source: Restoration Hardware (

Textile Stamps:

Usually made of hand-carved wood and used to print on fabrics. Love using them on this small wall that needed a little something.

*source: Pam Sunderman Design

Buddhist Temple Roof Finials (Chofas):

Found throughout Southeast Asia. Chofas are the roof finials found on the ends of Buddhist Temple roofs.

*source: Pam Sunderman Design

Cooking Pots from India (Urluis):

A traditional Indian cooking pot, they are now often used as decoration both inside the home, in a garden, or on a patio. Perfect for floating flowers or candles!

*source: photo by Pam Sunderman

Vintage Wine and Acid Bottles

My mother started this collection when she found a couple of acid bottles sitting next to a dumpster in Germany. I have since added vintage wine bottles to the collection from France and Italy.

*source: Pam Sunderman Design

Once you begin thinking beyond an item’s original purpose, a world of creative opportunity opens up for styling your home. It would be impossible in this short blog to share all of the creative ways to repurpose and reuse items in your home. The most important thing to share is that you should have fun with it, and see where it takes you! I would love to see how you have reimagined items in your home, and hope you will send a comment about your fabulous projects!