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An Interview With The Recreate Design Company

Mike and Micki from the Recreate Design Company have kindly agreed to share their passion, story and insights into repurposing with us. Read on to find out more about how they have turned their love into a business, and how they inspire others to repurpose items for themselves.

When and how did you first get into upcycling?

We’ve both been interested in creative reuse for years, but it’s only recently that we developed our personal passion into a business plan that we feel gives us a solid base to both inspire others as well as make (and sell). As a point of clarification, we are focused more on creative reuse and repurpose of existing materials. The term ‘upcycling’ is improving something that will continue to serve the same function as before. For instance, the repainting of furniture. It’s better, but still the same piece of furniture. Our niche is to actually shift the function of materials while extending their life – such as turning old skateboard decks into notebook covers, or combining wine glasses and other unmatched glassware to create new candlestick sets.

Why is reusing, repurposing and reloving items so important to you?

First, because it’s the right thing to do. We must do our (small) part in the hierarchy of recycling to help counter our high levels of consumption.

Second, there are some incredibly creative and whimsical designs that come about from repurposing materials. The creative reuse process forces the brain to see things a bit differently – often resulting in pieces that are real ‘wow’ statement pieces. They provide interior schemes with a true sense of individualism and personality.

How did you decide to turn your passion into a business?

I (Mike) started blogging on the subject nearly 5 years ago, and when we discovered that we shared a passion for repurposed design, we started to work with it – less than part time and on the side of our regular work gigs – creating pieces for friends and others who were referred to us. Eventually the desire to develop and commit our time and business experiences to our own business became stronger than our interest in giving all of ourselves to someone else’s business. So, after about 2 years of talking, fretting, and toiling with our plan on the side we knew we had to either press the green button or set the idea aside and refocus on our traditional careers, Mike in marketing and business development, and Micki in hospitality and event management. We decided to push the green button, even if we didn’t have all of the answers yet. And here we are, still figuring out the answers as we progress, but truly loving the process.

Can you give the Internal Doors blog readers some of your top ideas for repurposing doors?

We’ve seen so many great ideas for reusing doors over the past several years, many that I’m sure your readers have also seen. Headboards, dining tables, and coffee tables top the list. What we get excited about is when we see old doors really celebrated and gathered together in collections. Like this restaurant in Romania. The walls are covered with doors of every shape, size and color, resulting in a spectacular texture that makes you want to open each and every one of them to discover what they lead to. Old French doors that double as photo frames and coat hangers are definitely a statement piece when done well, like this one at Photog Mommie. We’ve seen several examples of suspended door tables that we really love – like this one featured in a wedding shoot. [caption id="attachment_2374" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Door table at wedding Image courtesy of[/caption] Honestly, the list goes on. Good quality doors should be truly celebrated through recreation when they no longer serve their initial purpose. They tell stories of the crossing of thresholds between worlds – always opening and closing various moments in our lives. Yes, we love doors.

Tell us more about the workshops you run.

Part of our business plan focuses on inspiring others to see existing materials differently before they throw them out. One way to accomplish that is through our social medial channels where we share not only our own projects, both repurposing projects from artists and makers around the world.

The best way for us to inspire our own community is to bring people into our space for workshops. We provide them with the materials and inspiration necessary to create an individualized repurpose masterpiece. We put a lot of thought into our workshop projects so that every single participant leaves with a one-of-a-kind piece that could match and often surpass the quality of store-bought home and garden decor. This is not your basic crafting, and you’re more likely to be working with power tools and hardware instead of glue and glitter.

What is the most exciting or unusual project that’s ever been brought to your open studio space?

We had someone come in and create a pretty large tipi to be used as a cozy reading place for kids at the preschool where she taught. She used reclaimed fabrics and materials and it turned out fabulous. Lucky kids!

If you could give people who are thinking about upcycling/repurposing one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dare to be different. It’s certainly good to be aware of trends. But designing your home or office space is a personal thing. Don’t be afraid to put something in your home that makes your heart fly every time you walk past it – even if it doesn’t follow the traditional rules of ‘resale’.

Do you have any exciting projects or events coming up?

We currently have a project for one of the universities in our community. They have a dining hall that serves 100 of their staff and they’ve chosen us to create a new interior that revolves around reused and repurposed furniture and décor. Among other things, it’s going to give us the chance to create a reclaimed wood wall art installation, something we’ve wanted to do for quite a while. We also recently got to see 28 of our reclaimed wood table tops in action in a newly opened restaurant in town. That was super exciting.

repurposed tabletops

Tell us about the biggest sustainable design project you have worked on.

Earlier this year we designed an entire office space with 100% reused and repurposed furniture and décor. It included the perfect contrast of modern lines with eclectic design. If the pieces were modern, we sourced reused office furniture pieces. If they were meant to be eclectic, we upcycled and repurposed one-of-a-kind creations ourselves. We grounded the pristine white industrial backdrop provided by the architects with a healthy sprinkle of vintage Persian rugs throughout the office – something you don’t often see in a traditional office space. It gives an instantaneous feeling of warmth and welcome the moment you step in. It has personality. It has individualism. And most importantly, the client was so proud to show off their new offices to others. It’s actually how we got the university job mentioned earlier.

repurposed office

You’ll see some good examples of our projects, including this one, in our online portfolio at Flickr:[email protected]/sets/

Do you have a favourite type of item to repurpose?

It’s impossible to identify just one favourite, because there are so many materials that continue to provide us with exciting challenges. Right now we’re really loving anything that we can create with reclaimed wood in all shapes and sizes. It is a material that provides endless inspiration.

When a piece is found that has great potential, do you ever argue over who gets to transform it?

We haven’t argued over who gets to work with it, but we have argued whether to transform it or not. Micki is a natural protector of all things that have been finely handcrafted and really struggles with the repurposing of certain things, like old leather books. I’ve come to terms with the fact that if we don’t transform them to extend the lifespan, chances are they will end up at the dump. Most of our materials are already half-way there when we rescue them. That’s why it’s important for us to create with quality and care. We’re not interested in short-life designs. Thank you to Mike and Micki for their inspiring words. You can find out more by visiting the Recreate Design Company here: Website: