A Tale of Repurposing…

A Guest Editorial by Dom Foffani

Some feel-good upcycling inspiration for your new year from Bower customer Dom Foff, which resulted in a very handsome bathroom cabinet/sink/bench top/shelf/vanity mirror situation. Dom was kind enough to write about the process for us:

My mum and I were discussing plans to redesign a bathroom in her house, specifically about replacing the vanity cabinet. After the long walk around IKEA for ideas we came to the decision to go looking for an older existing cabinet that I could ‘redirect’ into what we wanted. 

I knew we would need to alter the existing carcass of whatever we found to allow for plumbing and a sink. I decided a sturdy hardwood cabinet would be ideal.

We looked in Op-shops, Marketplace and Gumtree – also keeping an eye out on Street Bounty pages. But I found myself in The Bower (and Reverse Garbage for that matter), as I usually do when I’m after some odd bits and pieces for upcoming projects.

And there the buffet was – just hanging out underneath another cabinet – surrounded by other cabinets.

The dimensions were about right for what we wanted and where it needed to go. There was some interference from existing plumbing that had to go through the carcass wall, and the back panel of one of the cupboards had to be cut out.

The left-hand drawer had to be removed to allow for the sink and the drawer face would then need to be attached permanently to hide the sink face, so it’d still look like a drawer.

We also replaced the cabinet top with a thick utility panel to enlarge the countertop space, and then we put it on legs so Mum could mop underneath it. 

Of course we also gave it a sand and a paint job, and we had to reinforce its strength when we cut out that back panel. We also altered the middle drawer shape to accommodate the faucet plumbing…

…But apart from that, it was a perfect fit!

Half of that went through my mind as I was standing in front of the buffet for the first time at The Bower and the other half came about through the process of upcycling. These sorts of retrofits invariably come with a deep sense of improvisation in place and admittedly I usually forget (or don’t think of!) one or two tasks I should have done in a different order so I’m not on the ground, upside down, awkwardly hand sawing a little cut-out with almost no room to manoeuvre the saw (or myself).

So I often find myself on the ground, upside down, awkwardly hand sawing a little cut-out with almost no room to manoeuvre the saw or myself.

It is both the most frustrating process and most rewarding process as a maker.

To upcycle an object, often in need of a bit of love, and redirect it from the scrapheap and turn it into a custom piece of furniture with a specific and important function is such a fortunate, creative and educational process. It reminds us of our relationships with the objects we interact with every single day and the impact they have on our daily life and how we live.

It brings me great joy to use, play with and occasionally re-paint or repair these objects as if I’m revisiting an old friend for tea – they have a story before me and if I use them and look after them, they’ll have a story long after me.

Dom Foffani

We love hearing about how items from The Bower fare out in the wild. If you find a piece here you’re particularly happy with or have a story to tell about how you’ve customised and/or repurposed it, please let us know so that we can share your story with The Bower community.

You might inspire someone to do the same, and that’s one less item in landfill.

Visit our Workshops & Repairs page for info on our courses that can teach you the skills to DIY.