Decorating: On a Dime…and on Thousands of Dollars | Wyatt’s World

Upcycling is hot in design and decorating, ranging from the hip and expensive to the cool and cheap. Here are five current and forthcoming titles to freshen up your collections. Consider them companions, touchstones, and extensions of Lara Spencer’s current classic, I Brake for Yard Sales.

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide by Rachel Ashwell (Harper Design). In the 1990s, upcycling was known as “shabby chic.” A founding member of the style returns with this guide to turning flea market finds and hand-me-down pieces into interior design treasures.

Furniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More by Barb Blair (Chronicle). Fabric, paint, wallpaper, and gold leaf can all convert tired furniture into showpieces. Blair offers multiple techniques accompanied by great step-by-step photos and inspiring before and after shots.

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by Amanda Brown (Storey). That ugly chair from your great-aunt’s apartment can be reborn. So can the ottoman you snagged from the curb when your neighbors moved out. Brown offers plenty of hand-holding guidance and a lovely dose of inspiration in this highly visual guide.

Remodelista by Julie Carlson (Artisan). Decidedly upscale and gorgeous, the blog Remodelista offers a stylish tour of all things old and new. The book provides lessons on how to get the iconic looks, shares ideas to steal, and suggests ways to incorporate objects you (might) already own.

Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects, and Soul by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason (Potter Style: Crown). On the glam side of upcycled, the husband-and-wife team behind the blog AphroChic offer this lush style guide that mixes high-end pieces with travel finds and artisan objects.

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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at


  1. Hi Neal, Rachel Ashwell is excellent. I love all her ideas. Julie Carlson is also a fave because she is so creative. Thanks for posting this.

    -Rob :))

  2. Jeff says:

    Neal, Amanda Brown helped me and my Wife redesign out house! We took some antique furniture that we were going to pitch anyway and really turned it around. These pieces are a real compliment to our home now. It is amazing what you can do with stuff that you initially see as pure junk! LOL…


    • Neal says:

      Hi Jeff,

      That sounds like a wonderful project! Glad to hear from another Amanda Brown fan.


  3. Neal says:

    Hi Rob,

    Glad you enjoyed it. I bet you already know about Design*Sponge. I like that one as well and I keep wishing Sarah Richardson would write a book (maybe one day!)