Repurposing Everyday Objects

By Kristi Willis, Photos by Silvana Di Ravenna

When Lindsay Ballard and her family moved into their new Pflugerville home, she was already plotting how she could transform the builder-beige interior into something that better fit their fun-loving style. Little did she know that her new project would become a passion project that turned her into a nationally known DIY blogger.

“I was looking for something creative to do when I left my career to stay with my then 2-year-old, and, as I started decorating, I found the world of blogs,” Ballard says.

She started sharing her projects online and quickly built a devoted following for her blog, Makely School for Girls. In the beginning, Ballard didn’t know the first thing about using tools, painting or refinishing furniture. Fortunately, her husband was a great teacher. He grew up doing remodeling projects with his parents in their home, built in 1906. Six years later, she has imprinted their suburban home with her unique style that she describes as modern eclectic vintage.

She deftly combines modern, clean lines with mid-century blues, greens and eclectic touches, from antiques to brand-new décor throughout the house. With a single-income budget to work with, Ballard has developed a keen eye as she scours the Habitat for Humanity Restore, Goodwill, thrift shops and estate sales for diamonds in the rough.

“At first, I would bring home things and my husband would tell me we could have built it for less time than it would take to redo the piece,” Ballard says.

Now she knows to look for makeover pieces that may be ugly on the outside, but are solid, with good joints.

“Most of the money I spend is on paint, not on furniture pieces or new rugs,” she says.

Ballard starts each project with a feeling she wants to convey or a color she wants to incorporate. From there, she lets her imagination take hold.

“It is important that everything I do is livable because I have two kids, pets and a husband. I want it to be something that reflects us, that is fun, and I don’t want it to look like everybody else’s house,” Ballard says. “I want it to look like our house.”

Ballard encourages her readers to add eclectic touches to their homes as well, to look for unique pieces at estate or garage sales.

“Don’t worry about whether it matches; that doesn’t have anything to do with having an eclectic style,” she says. “Buy what you like because even if you can’t use it in the spot you were thinking of, you will find another place to use it because you love it.”

She also encourages readers to not get caught up in perfection.

“Anything that I do isn’t 100 percent perfect,” Ballard says. “If you are going for perfection, you are going to kill yourself. The important thing is that you made it with your own two hands.”

Ballard’s current project is one of her most ambitious. She is painting several walls in her living area with a pattern that was inspired by former Disney artist Mary Blair, who created the art for the It’s a Small World amusement ride.

“I love her use of the graphics, patterns and shapes. I’ve drawn something like that onto several of my walls and I’m painting it by hand with a 1-inch paint brush,” Ballard says. “It’s taking forever, but it is going to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen when it’s done.”

Stay tuned to Ballard’s blog for her progress as she continues to infuse her creative style into her once-bland and beige home.

Book Wreath

Have a damaged or less-than-literature-quality book that needs a new life? Roll up the pages and glue them to a Styrofoam wreath for some literary décor.

Door Plaque

Forget hanging a boring solicitation sign on the porch. Attach your request to a book cover to add some flair to your front door.

Message Rug

Add your own style to any jute rug by spray painting a message of welcome or a favorite phrase.

Updated Curios

Ballard added flair to out-of-fashion curios by spray painting a collection of carousel collectibles to decorate her daughter’s room.

Herringbone Wood Wall

Ballard created a stunning feature wall for her office by nailing up pine paneling that she stained in different colors. To create the pattern, she laid the boards out on the floor until she had the look she wanted. “You can see the wall from the street at night when the light is on in my office and my neighbors will stop to look at it because it looks so different than anything you see in a builder house in Pflugerville,” Ballard says.

Drum Light

Wanting an eye-catching light fixture in the entryway, Ballard decided to play off of the idea of a drum shade, the name for a large, round shade, and make a light out of a real drum. Ballard thinks the chandelier is the perfect nod to Austin’s deep musical roots.

Frames as Art

When Ballard was redoing her bedroom, she wanted an interesting piece for a small, gray wall, but isn’t a fan of traditional artwork. Instead, she bought a variety of frames at a thrift store and painted them different colors to match the bedroom, and layered the open frames on top of each other to create a more dramatic effect.

Salvaged Four- Poster Bed

Ballard searched for weeks for a four-poster bed she could refinish for her daughter’s transition from nursery to her big-girl room. She finally found a bed for $35 on Craigslist that was painted so poorly that the paint was peeling off in sheets. It took a lot of elbow grease, but Ballard finally stripped the bed down to the wood and repainted it a beautiful Kelly green with her paint sprayer. “Now it is the most magnificent bed,” Ballard says. “It just goes to show that if you look hard enough, you can find something and make it into a gem.”