What to do with your gently used kitchen countertops, cabinets and fixtures? DIY and remodeling programs are popular with lots of us who are thinking about redoing a room. I love the before and after shots as much as anyone else but the sight of a guy with a sledge hammer knocking kitchen cabinets off the walls and smashing sinks and countertops gives me a sad and guilty feeling. Everywhere you look manufacturers and contractors are pointing out how “green” their products and practices are and yet no one seems to notice when all those sturdy and often attractive resources are destroyed without a moment’s hesitation. Sure, the old stuff is probably dated and even a little shabby but not worthless. Lots of people would be glad to have it. Instead of adding to the bursting landfills why not recycle or re-purpose those old cabinets, countertops and fixtures, help someone who could use them, add extra storage somewhere or even create a whole new life for the kitchen castoffs. Wood kitchen countertops and butcher block are sturdy and very recycler friendly as they can easily be cut to fit a new installation with simple tools. Stone countertops are more complicated to alter and require more tools and expertise. Cabinetry and fixtures are also very DIYable.
The most obvious thing to do with renovation leftovers is to simply use them somewhere else. You might have a wall in the garage that could become a well organized area for all sorts of things if you took a weekend to install the old cabinets there. The laundry room, basement, tool shed, lake cabin or any number of other places might benefit from more storage. A wood countertop will make a great workbench or tabletop in a hobby area or shop.
If that isn’t an option for you offer the stuff to someone else. There are lots of ways to send your unused cabinets, countertops and other redo refugees on to a new life. If you want to put a little cash back into your pocket, (remodelling can be pricey) sell the unused items. One simple and free way to go about that is using a service such as craigslist.com, an online resource that works much like the newspaper classifieds back in the day. You can describe your items, post pictures and choose whether you want to have interested parties contact you through the email function of the site or if you want to leave a phone number. Bartering among craigslist folks is also a good way to exchange something you have and don’t need for something you want and don’t have. Be creative. Depending on your location and the kind of items you have you may find other interesting ways to sell. Search “recycling kitchen cabinets” for example, and you’ll find contractors and retailers who deal with salvage materials, not only the cabinets, kitchen countertops and fixtures but other things you may have on hand like used brick or doors and windows. Ebay is another way to go if you stick to the option of keeping your listing local. Unless your items are valuable enough to justify the shipping costs to distant buyers there’s no benefit to pitching them to someone across the country.
If you want to see your countertops, cabinets and fixtures go to good use but aren’t interested in selling them there are always folks who’ll be glad to have them. You might consider checking with local organizations or churches to see if they could use what you have. If that doesn’t turn up anything you have a couple of great options with good old craigslist again, They have a freebies section. Or donate your stuff to Habitat For Humanity for use in their building programs or to be be resold in their ReStores across the country with the proceeds put back into the work they do providing low cost housing. With this option you’ll get documentation of your charitable donation for tax purposes and some other family will get a lot of good out of your renovation hand-me-downs. Pay it forward.
Finally, if you don’t have a whole room full of cabinetry or a complete set of kitchen countertops you might want to check out some of the clever and creative things other people have done to repurpose unused items. Check out sites like Pinterest or HubPagesto see all kinds of useful and fun stuff you can make. Depending on the length of the legs you add and the sort of top you choose and old drawer can become an ottoman or an end table. A cabinet door can be transformed into a frame for a chalkboard, a mounting for coat hooks, a tray for your morning coffee or a dozen other useful things. Add a couple of more doors and make a cute folding screen or a toy chest. A pair of base cabinets joined at the back, given a nice wood countertop and a coat of paint can become a kitchen island or a work table for a craft room. Don’t get me started. The possibilities go on forever.
The takeaway here is just to remember the stress relief you may feel after that first blow of the sledgehammer is a lie. It will come back to haunt you. You wouldn’t flush money down the toilet or tip your trash out alongside the road so why would you allow your renovation relics to go to the landfill. Some other family can gather around your old kitchen island top for coffee or chop a salad on the wood countertop you used for all those great meals. Recycle, re-purpose and reinvent. It’s the oldest form of “going green.”
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