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Ottawa Sun - Homes Section Cover Story

Article Written by Louise Rachlis

Heather Jeffery believes so strongly in the value of re-using that she has made it her life’s work.

“It’s important that we start to consider alternatives rather than buying new to furnish our spaces,” says the owner of Re4m, which takes old fittings and materials from businesses and repurposes them into new fixtures, fittings and furniture. Her target market is other businesses, pubs and restaurants, and she does residential as well.

“In terms of waste from packaging and shipping, the carbon footprint of new products is much larger,” she said. “For those reasons, it’s important to source used, and if you buy local from Habitat for Humanity ReStore or another local shop, you’re helping the local economy.”

After graduating from Carleton University in Industrial Design in 2014, Jeffery started taking garbage and giving it a new life, and then selling her finished products on Etsy.

She began Re4m in 2015. For residential projects, a homeowner approaches her for a quote on whatever they need – like entry way benches, spice racks, headboards, even entertainment units like TV stands. “The next step is for me to custom design what they’re looking for. I give them some options of what I can make for them.”

This stylish terrarium was created from a vintage TV set.PHOTO BY SUPPLIED

She typically designs the pieces based on what she has on stock, whether cedar from a renovation in the Glebe or metal tubing or pipes from an old museum exhibit.

“Instead of going out and buying new, first search for items that can be repurposed in your home,” she says. “There are also buy nothing groups on Facebook. Try to source alternative methods before you buy new; that can lead to really cool, authentic, furnishings.”

Jeffery offers some advice for homeowners or renters wanting to repurpose items for their own homes. Going through a typical house, here are some of her suggestions by room:

The Kitchen:

If you’re looking for a spice rack, you might have an old wooden ladder in the shed, she said. That could end up as a shelf unit holder for the spice jars.

A small landscaping rake can be used as a tea towel holder. Take off the head of the rake and put it on a piece of old wood. Use the spikes to hang the towels.

The Living Room:

You want to put some throw pillows on your couch – men’s un-needed dress shirts can be sewn into a square shape and used as pillows.

Light fixtures – Go on kijiji and find an old lamp. Spray paint it a fun colour, metallic or pastel to complement the decor. Put on a simple white shade.

The Bedroom:

“I recently did a project with a bunch of pallet wood. You can use pallets for a headboard. There are many different sources for pallets, they are lying out in front of many industrial businesses and you can pick them up free.”

Another option for wall decor is repurposing coffee sacks that you can get at Bridgehead and other coffee suppliers for free. “Coffee sacks can be painted or laser cut for free at the Ottawa Public Library Nepean branch. You can select a quote that inspires you and then stencil it on. A laser cutter can etch on top of burlap. Then the coffee sack can be framed in an old frame or stapled onto a piece of wood and then hung up.”


“People tend to put benches in their hallway,” she said. “I myself can make benches from almost anything I have lying around. To make a wood seat, I’d glue together some reclaimed wood to use as the seat, sand it and stain it a nice colour and incorporate shelving by using old milk crates for shoe storage.


She has recently done a quote for a vanity incorporating an old wooden dresser to be refinished, and painted to suit the couple’s style. A vintage sink will be put inside it and a plumber can hook it up to be functional.


Out of barn wood, she has made cottage signs, with the family name.

Many people like raised garden beds and planter boxes to bring greenery to their space. “I actually use deck wood that’s being torn down,” she said. “Deck wood is already treated and so it works nicely in planter boxes.”

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