Arts & Culture

Turning junk into fine art

As the old saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. For Kellie Savery, that's a job description.

The 28-year-old Beaufort artist delights in turning old, sometimes broken materials into something new and fabulous. Savery digs for items at yard sales, thrift stores and even her own home and turns them into unique home decorations. She aptly calls it "salvage decor."

Savery said she's always been crafty -- making gifts for friends and family -- but only recently started selling her repurposed creations. The salvage decor idea was born about a year ago when she was looking for a new hutch. She saw fancy hutches and baker's racks everywhere she went. Then a friend of a friend offered her one for free. The hutch was beautiful, but much too fancy for her taste, which Savery describes as shabby-chic.

The hutch sat untouched in Savery's dining room for weeks as she contemplated what to do with it. She ended up taking it apart, sanding it, priming it and painting it to give it a distressed look.

"It took me a really long time, but I was so driven to do it," Savery said. "After that I was really excited about it, and I thought I could do that to other pieces and sell them."

She started creating similar home decor pieces -- mostly wall art and reconstructed furniture. Friends suggested she blog about her new hobby, so she did. "The Green House" has evolved into an online store.

"It took awhile to get to where I'm at," Savery said. "And then once I got there I thought, 'This is it. I've hit the nail on the head' ... with the concept of reusing. The way the economy is right now, I'm certainly in a position where I don't have a lot of money. And that's kind of how that started also -- just going to thrift stores and yard sales and thinking, 'This is so cute. Why not give it a little makeover?'THINSPACE"

So far, Savery has only sold a few pieces of her work, but she hopes the idea will catch on and she can eventually open her own store. She also hopes to eventually display her work at some local art galleries.

For now, Savery, who works two jobs and creates art in her spare time, is working on a few special orders. The first is a wooden laundry sign -- made out of an old end table and a piece of scrap metal she was given by a friend -- that she will donate to a silent auction for the Keyserling Cancer Center. The second project is a shell-top coffee table for her future mother-in-law.

"I think just making something with my hands and then stepping back and looking at it is the best feeling," Savery said. "It took hard work, I did it with my own hands, and I didn't need to follow an instruction manual."