There are economies of scale when it comes to thrift, in particular when one considers repurposing. I’ve seen children’s clothing made from pillow cases, jeans turned into rugs and bathtubs turned into flower planters.
And then there’s repurposing whole buildings. We are on the Orkney island of Papa Westray in Scotland, which is about 4 miles long and a mile wide, population 70. At one time, there were more than 200 people living and crofting here (crofting is a term used for self-sufficient farming), many of them working for the Laird who had the largest farm on the island.
These workers were housed in Beltrane House, which has now been repurposed to be the Papa Westray Hostel and Community Centre. It also has the community shop – a well-stocked grocery store that also sells souvenirs and liquor. It has very comfortable rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a common kitchen and dining area.
But perhaps the most creative repurposing I’ve seen here is the Cupboard Pub.
This is literally a cupboard in the corner of the common room that has been converted into a hold-all for the liquor served from the teeny, corner bar. Talk about a thrifty use of space.
The pub is the brain-child of Jim Rendall, who was born in this room 80 years ago when is parents were working for the Laird and living in Beltrane House.
The Cupboard Pub is open every Saturday after 9pm and if you’re lucky, Jim’s wife will arrive with her accordion, joined by grandson and others on various instruments for a rousing ceilig. They even let me play spoons – hey, that’s another form or repurposing!
What’s the most creative repurposing you’ve seen?