How to Design With Junk and Work with Reclaimed Materials

| 2/29/2012 1:10:00 PM

Elizabeth RichardsonElizabeth “Neko” Richardson is a licensed counselor in the State of Texas, a veteran, and holds a degree in Environmental Science. She currently lives in Hunstville, Texas, where she is building and designing her own home and studio using reclaimed and salvaged materials on a budget of $16,000 or less. She also works as a carpenter’s apprentice under the mentorship of Dan Phillips. Follow her building progress living experiment in design on her blog, Salvaged Homes 

How do you use junk in design without it looking like…junk? Fear of making a project look like junk is what prevents many people from trying to use salvaged materials. This is a skill I have had to learn in order to work with reclaimed materials on my house and studio.

Rows of CDs create a pattern that the eye can make sense of. Photo Courtesy Elizabeth Richardson. 

"Repetition creates pattern." I had heard Dan Phillips, my mentor, say this mantra on how to effectively design with scrap several times, but I did not really understand it until I saw him give a short speech to some kids who had come to volunteer on a work project.

Dan looked around the work site and grabbed a handful of rocks of mortar that had been chipped off of old used bricks. He placed the pieces of mortar in a pile, which did in fact look like trash.

"When you look at this what do you see?" Various responses from the crowd.