In the Spotlight

Bree Tetz Upcycling: From trash to treasures - The thrifty, upcycling world

March, 2020

The old saying that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure couldn’t be more apt for Bree Tetz. The Edmonton resident has been thrifting, picking, and upcycling her way to a renovated home. She doesn’t just go to garage sales or antique stores to purchase things and place them in her house—she puts her own unique touches on vintage items.

Her favourite piece is a deconstructed chair that, in the hands of anyone else, would have likely ended up in a landfill. But after her alterations, the result is a unique creation that has been given new life. “It came from a home where the dog had gotten to the foam and fabric. But that was fine because I knew I was going to tear it apart,” says Tetz.

“I started by removing all the fabric and stuffing, which was horse hair, dating the chair over 100 years old. I then removed all the nails—hundreds and hundreds—then re-stuffed and padded just the front of the chair leaving the back open so you could admire the craftsmanship of this chair. I added recycled drop cloth canvas and reupholstered the chair using furniture nails. I then used the foam from another upcycled chair and covered it with the same fabric.”

Tetz has only been working on her thrifty renovations since December of 2018. However, she has been thrifting since she was a young child with her mother “out of necessity,” something she has carried over as an adult on a strict budget. So, she began thrifting again
for her home renovations.

“I love finding unique items or items I can refinish,” she says. “Not only is each item unique, they each have a history, and a story, and usually have a higher quality of craftsmanship.”

Tetz finds the quest for one-of-a-kind pieces every bit as exciting as the creative process. “I love the thrill of the hunt—looking and waiting for the perfect piece—and the finished project. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your vision come to fruition.”

She also stresses that thrifting, picking, and upcycling is important when being conscious of sustainability. “By purchasing vintage and used pieces, we are reducing the amount of waste headed to our landfills and refusing the need for cheap, disposable furniture,” Tetz says.

“This also rings true for other items as well. My entire home, minus a few pieces, has all been thrifted, including linens, small appliances, kitchen wares, pottery, utensils, glassware, artwork, and even my family’s clothing. The list goes on. I think each little bit helps reduce our footprint.” t8n

Besides showing her work on Instagram (@mylittleblackandwhitehouse) Bree is a vendor at the Blue Jar Antique Mall in Edmonton, with a booth where she shares her upcycled and found pieces. She also does commissioned pieces by special request.