Reclamation: The Second Chance of Beauty and Function

What’s better than giving something a second chance at life? Well, how about giving a second chance at life and improving the look of your home at the same time? Reclamation has been a hot trend in the last decade, and for good reason.


For one, sustainability is becoming paramount in the world because we’re wasting many resources as a species and need to find any avenue to try and reverse some of the damage we’ve done. A way to counter some of these effects is to follow the iconic steps to “reduce, reuse and recycle.” This has carried over into all facets of life, especially when living in a progressive region, and people have found ways to minimize their footprint. This includes repurposing items for something outside of its intended usage. As the saying goes: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In this case, maybe your own trash could be your own treasure.

An important thing to keep in mind with reclaiming is that it’s easy to make something gaudy. You want to keep it tasteful and mesh seamlessly into the existing environment. Sure, you may be turning trash into treasure, but you don’t want it to appear that trash has just become more trash in a different spot. I’m not necessarily talking about direct conversion of one product to a new purpose, like painting old mason jars to become a new spice rack.

There are plenty of lifehacks out there that can optimize your efficiency and spruce up your home, but it’s about going beyond that to truly transform something from one form to another. For instance, a lot of pallets are made out of oak, and once they serve their purpose, they are likely left out to rot. With some care and time taken, this oak can be given new life in a coffee table or a chair. But I’m not talking just crudely nailed together. Bring out the inner craftsman in you and be sure to give the wood the treatment it deserves.


Cut and plane down the sides to make it square. Grab some sandpaper and get the surface smooth. Grab some mineral oil or stain to give it a finished look. The character was already instilled into the wood itself, so when the beaten and worn surface is stripped away, you’re left with a trued fit and finish. Combined with new materials, such as some brushed stainless steel or copper, it’s the best of old and new worlds.

There’s a reason people are designing around reclaimed materials. It’s akin to buying a pair of jeans that are pre-faded - you want the illusion that the denim has been through many experiences and tells a story. All the marks and holes are minor plot points to the overall history of the product. There’s something about looking at an item with a patina that adds flair when pristine finishes surround it. Combine them just right, and you’re left with a new product with a touch of old.

Brock SlowinskiUrbanata