House & Home

Cindy Billhartz Gregorian: Someone help me repurpose this old toolbox!

An impulse purchase brings an old toolbox into the house.
An impulse purchase brings an old toolbox into the house. The Kansas City Star

I’m constantly amazed at how creative people are when it comes to repurposing items. The West Bottoms on a First Friday weekend illustrates this perfectly.

So do Pinterest and home decor bloggers. A defunct blog, May/December Home Accessories, features a vintage, turquoise toolbox hung sideways, holding a collection of colorful teacups.

Much to my husband’s dismay, I buy things with no idea what I want to do with them. Such is the case with an old, handmade, wooden toolbox that I bought for $25 at the Doll Corner in Edwardsville, Ill., during a shopping excursion with my sister and nephew.

I was instantly struck by its shape and patina, so I snatched it up, thinking of all its potential uses: flower box, magazine rack, toilet paper holder. It’s big and bulky and has a top row of compartments near the handle for nails and screws, so I can’t hang it on the wall and use it as a teacup holder.

But it’s still sitting unused in my house, because I can’t decide what to do with it, and my husband is getting annoyed by its idleness. Any suggestions on ways to use my toolbox? What about its provenance? What should I fill the nail compartments with? Go to to let me know.

Speaking of dolls

As for the Doll Corner store, it carries a huge selection of collectible dolls, dollhouses and toys, with handmade, vintage and antique items mixed in. My sister and nephew are fascinated by it because of a dark room full of old creepy dolls in its basement. I bought one for $5 that I now use as a weapon of terror.

My brother-in-law, Mike, was the first victim. My nephew leaned the doll against a glass door, so she was peering into the house from the back deck with her cold, dead eyes. Mike bleated like a lamb when he saw her.

My husband actually said, “I want that thing out of this house,” after opening his closet door and finding her peering out at him. Friends on Facebook said she “looks like an exorcism waiting to happen.”

I’ve put the doll away … for now.

Display your medals

Runners (or any athlete): What do you do with your race medals? Mine have been lying around in a pile since we moved to Kansas City two years ago. Before that, they were hanging from a curtain rod, between two curtain panels in the window of my rarely used home office.

Turns out there are hangers made specifically for medals. Two makers of note:

▪ LifeSpeed Sports, in Tulsa, which makes wooden holders that range from $30 and $195.

▪, which makes metal hangers shaped like city skylines, including one for Kansas City. They range from $40 to $80.

To reach Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian, call 816-234-4780 or send email to