The Little House On The Chanel: Re-Purpose, Recycle, Re-Use

by | Jan 2, 2020 | Interesting Information | 0 comments

Re-Purpose, Recycle, Re-use, these are very popular words.  Pinterest has a plethora of ideas on how to repurpose items, HGTV shows are always showing ideas with recycled pieces, even retail stores are selling items claiming repurposed.

When we purchased the little house in Winneconne, it came with most of the former owner’s possessions.  There was 30+ years worth of stuff we needed to sort through.  Click here to see how we tackled the job of sorting all the stuff.

The large majority of items we got rid of.  There were a few pieces of furniture we kept, some dishes, a few antiques, and a few unique items.  The most unique item we found was lying in the dirt behind the bushes in the front of the house.  It was a long metal piece with some detailing on it and words.  Here is a picture:

These words are in the middle of the beam.  We did a little research on-line and it appears this was the decorative back piece for a mortising machine for making doors and windows.  Our best guess is it came from one of the old window/door/furniture factories in Oshkosh.  We weren’t really sure what we would do it with it when found it, but we knew we did not want to get rid of it.

We also found old wood siding, some of the original siding from when the home was just a flat-roofed boathouse.  We kept that as well.  As we designed the remodel we knew we wanted to use both of these finds in the interior somehow.
I really wanted a sliding barn door.  Because of the lack of doors, our only option was on the bathroom door.  This was a perfect place for one because it gave us more useable space on the inside of the bathroom.  We looked at numerous options for a barn door but we were having difficulty finding one that fit.  The ceiling height by the bathroom door is only 7’6’, meaning our door needed to be shorter than usual.
I may have mentioned before but I do have a very handy husband.  He decided he could make a barn door out of the wood siding we found.  The wood was already a weathered red color.  He cleaned it up, put together a fabulous door and finished it with a matte varnish.   We brought gate rollers back from Africa with us and we now have a recycled barn door.
The big concern was how would we ‘lock ‘ the door.  We knew guests would not be comfortable if they could not lock it.  That is where the metal piece comes in!  We realized the metal piece would be a perfect fit for the sliding door.  See the photo:

We repurposed the metal piece as the “stopper” for the door.

We wire brushed the metal, scrubbed it and then put this magic oil on it called “Kramer’s Best Antique Improver” (find it at It made the dry metal come alive again!  As we were cleaning it we noticed red splotches on it.  We attempted to sand them out.  Then we realized it was most likely drips of the paint from the siding of the house, so we left them.

Probably our favorite part of the remodel is the barn door.  Not only because Wade built it, but also because the wood came from the original house.  The metal piece looks like it was always in that spot.  We like it because it is unique.

I think repurposing, re-using and recycling are great!  I like to have pieces in my home that you can’t pick up at the big box stores.  Let your home be a reflection of you and your family.  Maybe the buffet from your grandma is not in keeping with the latest trend on HGTV, who cares!  If you like it and it brings you joy, then use it.

For more local tips on what you can and can not recycle visit the Outagamie County recycling and solid waste center’s website.


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