The One Thing These HGTV Stars Will Always Repurpose

The things our HGTV stars love to keep around might be surprising or ordinary, specific or very general, but they never cease to delight and inspire. Interior design is a profession often rewarded for reinventing the wheel. Sometimes what you need instead is the old wheel you've been riding around on. The one that always gets you where you want to go.

Everyone has their favorite things, and HGTV hosts are no different. They might approach things from a mostly aesthetic point of view (like Joanna Gaines and David Bromstad) or they might be more philosophically minded (Jenny Marrs). Some value objects that are foundational (Erin Napier), and some will obsess about the otherworldly (Nicole Curtis). And sometimes it's purely a pragmatic matter, a responsible step along the way to beauty (Jenn Todryk). But looking first to reuse, refurbish, repurpose, and upcycle are good habits to have during a renovation for all those reasons. And it's a good habit of mind, as well.

Joanna Gaines will put reclaimed wood on anything

Joanna Gaines is known for warehousing any and everything she loves, so there are a lot of vintage items that often show up in her designs: scales, maps, bikes, windmills, and the like. But the thing she's least likely to shuffle off to a construction dumpster during demolition must be old wood with character. The use of reclaimed wood became a joke in season 3, episode 11 of "Fixer Upper" because of the number of Gaines-designed elements that called for custom use of barn wood and other reused wood elements.

Which goes to show you that Gaines used reclaimed wood in many more forms than shiplap. Season 3, episode 11 was no exception; reclaimed wood graced the fireplace, a number of sliding barn doors, the sides of two kitchen islands, a tray ceiling inset, a headboard, a bench, shutters on the front of the house, and probably more. Joanna wrote in the Magnolia Blog that this wood theme was meant to create a "cohesive, masculine look throughout the home." Sometimes reclaimed wood played a less dramatic role, serving instead as accents. These might be reclaimed wood updates to built-in shelving (via Instagram) or create a focal point of a range hood amid several monochromatic expanses in a kitchen (also via Instagram).

Erin Napier uncovers those old floors... then covers a little up again

If Joanna is tempted to tear up the oak floors and turn them into a sign or an accent wall, Erin Napier is more likely to leave them in place. This is Erin and her husband Ben's renovation philosophy in action. "As we renovate these houses, we peel back the layers of renovations over the years," Ben told Fox News, "and we get to see the way they did things a hundred years ago, or 75 years ago. To get to see the quality of the craftsmanship ... it's unbelievable." Erin adds that restoring wood floors is also a good way to save money. And there's one more piece to the floor puzzle for Erin: rugs. Antique rugs, she says, combine with wood floors to provide a sort of baseline warmth for a space, making it more inviting and making room for a more neutral palette above floor level.

So you won't catch Erin Napier throwing out a good rug, either, or bringing in just the right one to make an indoor or outdoor space welcoming. But ultimately she finds the history and charm in the old floors. In season 5 episode 5 of "Home Town," for example, the couple worked the floors so that they accentuated the history of a 1940s home with their charm and imperfections (via Instagram). Erin isn't necessarily averse to the new... as long as it looks old. On Instagram, she showed off a new hardwood floor in her own home that is new but looks more like a colorful rug or vintage patterned tile.

David Bromstad masterfully does nothing with bricks

David Bromstad is a colorful man who has used color for a living for decades. So it might be a little surprising that he has a particular affinity for leaving old brick in place... especially in the form of a fireplace. This observation would come as no surprise to Bromstad himself, who told "I absolutely love brick walls! They add a natural texture and warmth to your apartment, which sends you off in the right direction to fabulousness." The aesthetics are the main reason for the love of brick, but not the only reason to value an old brick wall or a fireplace that's fallen into disrepair. As Bromstad has demonstrated, it can be very affordable to repair a non-working fireplace. And it's not hard to extend the same reasoning to walls as well.

In a season 12 episode of "My Lottery Dream Home," Bromstad recommended that the homeowner keep a brick fireplace with a funky mantel and hearth if he chose one of the homes under consideration. Bromstad didn't think the brick detracted from the fun vibe at all. In another home, Bromstad completed the dramatic renovation of a guest house, leaving in place the brick fireplace and flooring that added warmth and earthiness to what he reimagined as a mountain retreat. Bromstad even added a faux-brick finish to a living room in HGTV's "Color Splash," season 9, episode 7. Sometimes brick is so right you get it in the space by any means necessary.

Nicole Curtis thinks stained glass is heavenly

She'll happily look for inspiration and solutions at salvage yards and in dumpsters, but Nicole Curtis is ultimately about preserving the old in place, where it most belongs. By keeping a home's original architectural features, Curtis believes you emphasize the home's true charms and avoid the pitfalls of chasing fashion trends. One of her favorite preservation targets is stained glass, which she saves and, if necessary, restores whenever she can. And there's stained glass to be found even among the condemned homes featured on "Rehab Addict." From a family that owned a garbage business, Curtis knows very well what is trash and what is not. Perhaps because of the lead content in older stained glass, it has a reputation for being not worth saving. But much of the concern about the solder used to join stained glass is based on a persistent, and incorrect, belief that the solder releases lead fumes, especially when heated.

Curtis has gone to considerable lengths to save and restore stained glass in her renovation projects. For example, every aspect of her restoration of Detroit's Ransom GIllis mansion was spectacular, but it was the stained glass that pushed it into an almost otherworldly beauty. The master suite, for example, is lovely, but the restored quatrefoil rosette stained glass window makes quite an impression both inside and outside the house. The home's dining room also got a wholly new piece of stained glass that lends it both light and gravity.

Jenny Marrs thinks a door should take you places

Jenny Marrs sees in antique doors not only welcome and function, but transition, history, and meaning. So when she refuses to pass up any old door, it's because she never sees them as just any old door. "I love — we both do — love old doors and old hardware," Jenny told House Digest. "They're beautiful. A lot of times, doors were painted over the years, so if you strip off the paint and bring them back to their natural wood state, they're so beautiful. ... There's something about old doors."

Indeed, in the pilot episode of her show "Fixer to Fabulous" (though it was called "Almost Home" at the time), Marrs keeps the home's original front door, and its original color, as testament to the history and beauty of the original house. It also happens to be a gorgeous door. Marrs added vintage hardware to further ground the old door in its new surroundings. In episode 2 of season 4, Marrs learned that the homeowner had bought an antique front door that didn't fit, so she made enlarging the entrance and using that door part of her renovation plan.

Jenn Todryk wants to sell your cabinets

As you might expect from the host of a show named "No Demo Reno," Jenn Todryk has a lot of items on her list of stuff to not reflexively throw out. There are environmental and financial reasons, for example, to put kitchen cabinetry that's being replaced on the local market instead of in the construction dumpster. All that's required is a little care in removing the old cabinets and a little time to post them to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and the like. Of course, Todryk is just as likely to work with the original cabinets during a renovation, but even if new ones are called for, there's no need to waste the old ones.

The renovation Todryk did for Naz and Umer Ayub illustrates the point clearly (via DiscoveryPlus). The couple was fighting for space in a kitchen that was inevitably, for a family of five, being used for a lot of people and a lot of purposes. Umer described sharing the kitchen as a game of human Tetris. Todryk reworked the space to be more practical and more beautiful, and that included new cabinets. Selling the old cabinets added $1,300 to the $42,000 kitchen budget. That might not sound like a lot, but in Todryk's philosophy the little things make up the whole, as she explains in the episode when discussing the drawer pulls and how they contribute meaningfully to the overall kitchen renovation: "The details matter, because they all make the space."