Reinventing salvaged hospital furniture

If you like industrial, vintage furniture then how far would you go in terms of the pieces you use? I mean does old hospital furniture count as industrial? Say for argument's sake, you were using an old surgical light, or a hospital trolley on wheels, would that count as industrial? It's not exactly old factory or office furniture, but it is using metals, wheels and other plain looking fit-for-purpose furniture and using it for something else.

Unpleasant hospital memories

Question is would you want to? Would say, using a bariartic chair you found on a skip, or a dental lamp as a reading lamp be a step too far? A surgical lamp in the kitchen perhaps? Because it might easily remind you of the dentist (one obvious example), or your uncle's inabillity to move, or perhaps that awful time you had to stay in hospital to have your tonsils out as a child, conjuring up unpleasant memories.

Vintage Medical Cabinet - could you use it as a pantry-type cupboard, or a place for cups and plates?

Vintage Medical Cabinet - could you use it as a pantry-type cupboard, or a place for cups and plates?

Personally, I love the idea of using something that was used for a particular job, and reinventing its use in a clever way. An apothecary's cabinet is an obvious example, and one of the most popular pieces of medical equipment used. I often see them in restaurants and they're popular on ebay and etsy.

You have to get the balance right

Using 'proper' medical equipment as furniture for your home is another thing altogether though, because I imagine it takes a certain skill to get the balance right. Too many pieces and someone might think you've had to turn your home into a makeshift hospital out of necessity. But perhaps a surgical light used over a leather chair for reading is a clever idea, or an old white metal hospital trolley on wheels used for books, or as a drinks cabinet.

Can't seem to find imaginatively used hospital furniture in people's homes

Funny thing is, when I try to look up industrial*hospital*vintage* and using any other keywords that come to hand, I can't seem to find any interiors using hospital furniture imaginatively. All I get are hospitals that have been given a makeover. However, what does seem to help is using the words 'repurposed' and 'salvaged' and even that doesn't bring up much. One of the most useful websites has been Urban Remains in Chicago, US. Brilliant reused hospital pieces for the home.

An old medical cabinet, reused, but also refurbished, sold recently on Urban Remains, Chicago

An old medical cabinet, reused, but also refurbished, sold recently on Urban Remains, Chicago

I really like the idea of people living in hospitals and old schools as guardians, they even made a comedy series about it on Channel 4. You know, when they get people to stay in abandoned buildings, charging them a minimal rent in return for living there, so the buildings aren't robbed or broken into.

                                     Dental lamp

                                     Dental lamp

Upcycling - formely known as 'making do'

Perhaps because of my working class childhood, where my parents had to make the most of every penny and make do with handouts and second hand furniture, I have a love of and skill for reclaimed items and reinvention of old pieces. Taking something and using it for something else, making it useful, passing it on. It's upcycling as we know it now, but in back in the day it was probably known as making something last, or making do. Not that my childhood home was full of hospital furniture of course, more likely old pieces in dark wood passed down from grandparents.

                               An old surgical lamp

                               An old surgical lamp

I'm frustrated by the fact that no one seems to have any reclaimed hospital stuff in their home. It would be interesting to see how they came by it, how they've reused it and why. If you've reused and reinvented a piece of hospital furniture as part of your interiors, then I'd love to hear from you.

Urban Remains, Chicago http://www.urbanremainschicago.com/

Industrial interiors - a process of reinvention

simple, functional and more than the sum of its parts

simple, functional and more than the sum of its parts

It's a stool, but it was once something else, something that worked by pulling a handle, or twisting a screw, or pulling a lever. And now it's a stool, a simple, beautiful detailed stool. It's all about the detail, its former functionality is redundant yet it retains its former glory. It was once this but it's now that. I love it. It's beauty is in its proud stance, upright, erect, unusual and dark. It has a secret and a hundred hands may have touched it and worked it. It's now been immoblised and reimagined as a piece of furniture. That's what I love about industrial style, its quirkiness, its secret past and how it captures the imagination.

As opposed to antique or vintage furniture, which has always been used for its intended purpose, industrial pieces have been recreated, reinvented from their former function. Whatever it was, it's been turned completely into something else. It had a job and now it's purely recreational. And I love it. Perhaps the stool was some kind of stool before, but it was in a completely different environment from the one it's in now.

A former butchers block or a carpenters table is now put to work for a different purpose. An industrial wheel is used to create a coffee table..it's upcycling with imagination.