Home is the place where you feel comfortable and safe. It's where you spend your time, and everything that surrounds you - even your old furniture - feels familiar and carries sentimental value.
With that said, there are stages in life when it's time for renewal, and that includes your home. Maybe it's time to share a living space with your partner, move out from your family home - or your work just takes you to a new city. And hey, sometimes you just want a fresh look for your home. No matter the reason, change is inevitable.
Redecorating your home can be a challenge - especially if hiring an interior designer or buying new items like home accessories or wall murals are not in the budget. The good news is, you have options - and one of the best is to take the furniture that you already have and repurpose it.
Not sure where to start? To help you with your DIY project, we reached out to 25 interior designers and home decor bloggers, and asked them:
What are some clever ways to decorate your home using re-purposed furniture?
Bookshelves and tables are great items to re-purpose. A good coat of paint will completely change the look of a piece and allow you to fit it into a new space.
Look for a strong, simple shape that will combine with other pieces. A pair of old end tables can be painted, placed side by side and paired with a new, contrasting top to make an entertainment center or dining room buffet.
A plain bookshelf can be painted and outfitted with labeled baskets and coat hooks to make a convenient family drop-zone by the back door.
Emily Mackie - Inspired Interiors
1. Family photos in old frames
I once had a collection from my mother and grandmother in old variety of frames. Instead of reframing them I chose to mount them in a collage fashion on a series of old vintage window panes. I mounted one group for each individual person and lined the stairwell of my old home.
The staircase was a great place for everyone to admire all of the pre-teen images and diaper pics that you might not want in public spaces!
2. Cuddly Grandma's Rocking Chair
One client had an old farmhouse type rocking chair that she remembered her Grandmother rocking every family member in. She couldn't bear to part ways with it. Her home was very contemporary in design style. So we chose to refinish it in a darker stain and reupholster it in a fabric that she felt embodied the personality of her Grandmother (with was vibrant and bold).
The drab farmhouse rocker morphed into a favorite piece in her Guest bedroom. And our client was able to hold onto the piece and rock her own Grandchildren in the same rocker!
3. Entrepreneur Grandpa's Desk
Another client inherited his grandfather's Mid-century modern desk. The desk had a great structure but looks like Mike Brady's dusty old architectural office. The desk was special to our client because he remembered his Grandfather working long hours to build the family business at this desk. Our client also spent hours launching his tech company at this same desk!
We chose to have the desk refinished in a more polished version of its original dusty-green hue and added new black leather inserts to the desk. We chose to place the desk in the center of the room diagonally on a chunky wool rug. We staged the room with accessories that reminded the client of his achievements
Oddly, two clients have had vintage Victrolas (vinyl record players). They were both hand-me-downs from family members. They create VERY unique atmospheres for interiors. In one client's home (with children) we placed the Victrola in the front living room with a tea cart. These clients had a new use for the quintessential 'forgotten front living room' - they now used it for having cocktails and Classic Vinyl nights for their friends.
The second client (a bachelor) had a smaller Victrola, I talked him into placing the record player on a small table next to the two-person bathtub! I purchased a leather bin for him and loaded the bin with records: Sade, Barry White, and more! Needless to say - he enjoyed this bathtub in a completely new way!!!
5. Bring out Your Inner Rockstar
One client (mid-50's Bachelor) had an amazing set of drums. He told me about how he had toured at one point in his 20's with Van Halen. He was moving into a luxury condo residence in downtown Chicago. His career was based in the private equity sector. Most of his friends and family were very conservative.
I managed to talk him into basing the Living room design around his drum set. Getting him comfortable with exposing this personal passion of his was difficult, but in the end, he eventually loved sharing his secret talent with his friends! Not only was the design a win - but bringing out his inner rock star was a BIG win!
Hillary Cohen - hCO INTERIORS
Creating a well-designed home is all about layering various shapes, textures, and furniture pieces to create an inviting and interesting space. Repurposing furniture can be a great way to add character to your space and to assure your home doesn’t look like a page in a furniture catalog. Here are three ways you can repurpose your furniture:
1. Refinishing furniture to look new:
I love to use pieces that a client had before and reimagine them in a modern way. Often we will refinish an older piece- a new stain or some new fabric can completely transform the look of a table or chair.
2. Refinishing furniture to look old:
Sometimes we will also take a new piece and refinish it to look older. You can add light distressing and a wash of paint to achieve this look. Whether the piece looks antique or modern, you will have a unique piece that is completely your own.
3. Changing the function of a piece:
Another method is to reuse furniture or accessories for a totally different function. An old side table can become a base for a dining table just by adding a circular stone top. An unusual decorative object can be wired to be the base of the lamp by taking it to a local electrician.
The trick in whichever method you choose to employ is to keep the things you love and find a way to make them work in your new space. When your home is filled with furniture that speaks of your personal history, it creates an atmosphere that instantly comforts you and reflects your personality.
Lindsey Jamison - Rumor Design +reDesign
We often incorporate clever ways to style repurposed furniture into a home for a sense of worn-in coziness. At a dining room table, you can utilize multiple styles of chairs, with two mates on one side of the table, two on the other, and some fun styles of armchairs or stools for the heads of the table.
Another great way to incorporate repurposed furniture is to reupholster the piece in an unexpected way, such as a textured fabric on the back and two tones or a solid and print for the front.
Also, the placement of furniture can shake things up as well, by using a chair as a bedside table or two ottomans in place of a coffee table.
Carole Marcotte - Form & Function Raleigh
Repurposed Furniture Ideas:
1. I think that repurposed furniture has a sense of nostalgia. Not all items are hokey or old-fashioned, but many have been reimagined into a new, modern format. There is a nostalgic sense of what the item was, but with new fabric or newly imagined use, it becomes fresh and modern. I turned an old 70s, beat-up hutch-top into a pink painted storage unit that's a top desk for my daughter’s bedroom.
2. Vintage or repurposed items are often much more affordable, not to mention more durable than newer items. If a homeowner wants to buy a piece that is in rough condition and wants to attempt a DIY makeover, they can save even more money. There is no greater satisfaction for home goods than ones you have repurposed and brought back to life yourself.
3. There is a timeless quality of repurposed items. Many work well in a home that has vintage charm and the industrial vibe is great for pieces with reclaimed wood and metal items. The pieces are timeworn and add a story to the interior design of the home – who doesn’t love a good story of a funky, found piece?
I love an old street sweeper brush turned into a mirror. Looking at rough or junky pieces and seeing them in a whole new light is the ultimate repurposing.
4. I think that people both love to attempt projects and save money at the same time. The younger generation doesn’t seem to want “grandma’s valuable, old brown furniture” but want a more interesting, eclectic vibe that repurposed, vintage pieces can provide.
5. Repurposing furniture has certainly been the foundation for my business. I see so many designers encouraging the purchase of all new things. I have never had a client who didn’t already own enough stuff – we Americans are an acquisitive bunch. I can work a lot with what people have and make it seem new. New fabric, some paint, and a little elbow grease can do wonders.
Michelle Meyers - Joli G Interiors & Designs
Don’t be afraid to repurpose items from one room of your home to another.
In order to achieve an instantaneous update in a family room or living room, incorporate new accent pillows to a preexisting couch. A new area rug can help anchor preexisting furniture pieces. For wooden furniture pieces that have good lines, but a dated or unappealing finish, update them with paint.
Find inspiration from a website or catalog of a furniture manufacturer that you love and use this to help dictate paint color. Remove dated artwork, accessories, and clutter. Try to repurpose frames with a coat of spray paint, and the addition of new prints that can be obtained easily and inexpensively from online sites like Etsy.
Decorative accents, accent tables can often get a new fresh look with a coat of spray paint too. I often see outdated kitchens or dining room tables that have matching chairs that are dated and heavy looking. If resources are tight, I encourage clients to keep their preexisting table and swap out the chairs for new inexpensive chairs the will provide an instantaneous update.
If you have a matchy-matchy outdated 4 – 5-piece bedroom suite, with a matching wooden bedframe, dressers, and end tables, try swapping out the bed for an inexpensive upholstered headboard.
New bedding and accent pillows, lamps, curtains, and area rug can have such an impact in a bedroom and instantly create a clean and updated look. If the dresser has an attached mirror, remove the preexisting mirror and hang a mirror above that is made of a different material.
For example, is the dresser is a dark wood finish, hang a rounded brushed nickel mirror above. If the bedroom furnishings have an unappealing and dated finish or color, don’t be afraid to paint these items!! There are so many online tutorials on sites like Pinterest and YouTube that will give you step by step instructions to walk you through this process.
Lindsey Holt and Coley Arnold - Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market
Unique pieces can bring life to an otherwise all-white kitchen. Adding reclaimed wood shelving brings warmth and character and is the perfect place to display your favorite kitchen items! An island is a great opportunity to bring in something fun and unique.
Vintage lighting is an easy way to add character and save money too! We find the best lighting from antique stores, on sites like eBay and Etsy, and estate sales. Sometimes they come already re-wired, but re-wiring and hanging is usually a quick and easy project for any electrician.
Never pass up a vintage basket. They make the perfect home for our favorite accessory...greenery! And don't be afraid to bring furniture outdoors. A child's dresser can make a great side table on the patio. It's a great way to stash your gardening tools and outdoor toys.
Old hardware cabinets make the best organizational tools. Use them as outdoor succulent gardens, craft room, and playroom storage, or displaying vintage glassware in the kitchen. The chippy paint is always a bonus!
Adrian Leary - Revival Beds
At Revival Beds, all of our beds and furniture is made from scratch. However, a lot of our design ideas are inspired by furniture that has been repurposed. Many people think that repurposing furnishing is simply renovating or reworking the style, but that’s not the case at all. It takes creativity, experience and most importantly inspiration and strong will.
Wooden furniture especially is fantastic when it comes to improvements. And, that’s because you're not constrained too rigidly by the shape and size. With minimal effort and skills, it’s possible to repurpose most wooden furniture into a useful and eye-catching addition to your home.
Sand it, paint it, keep the wooden look with a fresh finish, upholster it, or cover it with stickers. Cut it, dismantle it, or combine it with another unit. Opportunities are there for you to grab.
One fantastic example of this that I’ve recently seen is a chest of drawers that had been repurposed to serve as under-bed storage. The under bed compartment already had the drawers and mechanisms in place, so it was just a case of cutting, stacking and adding some side panels to create a beautiful chest of drawers.
Wooden bedside tables are also great for repurposing. It’s an extremely simple process to turn your unwanted, unused bedside table into a simple, yet effective storage box. Again, it’s just a case of adding side panels and turning the tabletop into a removable lid. It doesn't take much to put an old piece of furniture to a new use.
Amira Johnson - Emerald Doors
Here are my ideas on ways to utilize your furniture that is repurposed to decorate your property.
Strip It Down: Wood furniture gets the most effective items that are repurposed since you paint it are able to strip the finish and blot it or make it natural. Consider stripping old bi-fold doors and utilize them. Strip barn doors down and utilize them as a dining room table that is rustic. It, you can repurpose it.
Convert Old Containers Into Planters: Seeking to determine what to do with these old glass bottles and containers you've junking up the garage? These containers create planters for synthetic or real flowers.
Vintage collecting is a style that's currently trending, and also you are able to purchase obsolete' looking bottles! Why? Utilize yours in your basement or garage. Glass containers may be turned in to the desk or light lamps.
Turn Old Bottles & Vessels Into Colourful Centerpiece: Display a group of ribbons and vases in a similar colorway for allure. Instead of sending glass bottles straight check to find out whether they have color or an interesting shape. Clean them out till you have to create an ensemble for a centerpiece or mantels cape, and save them.
Paint Decor Essential: Paint is a must-have tool for funding decorating. However, this medium isn't restricted to walls. It can also be employed to give that a much-needed lift to accessories and dated furniture.
Outdoor Decor: Bring outdoor pieces inside for an easy addition. Garden stools operate as well inside as they do for drink tables and additional chairs on porches and patios.
Allen Michael - Saw Hub
1. Look for Wood Furniture that is Unfinished
Finding furniture that is made from unfinished wood is an easy win. Unlike furniture that already has a finish on it or is painted, unfinished wood furniture gives you a blank slate - you can do whatever you want with, and without much effort.
Add a bright color through painting to give the room a pop, or finish it with a varnish or stain to add elegance.
2. Make Your Own Furniture
The best way to control the look and feel of your furniture is to make your own. Yes, it has complexities and takes time, but you’ll be in full control of the finish product. You also get a great story to tell your visitors and guests, along with having a much deeper connection to the piece.
Nowadays, you can keep it simple by using free pallet wood and following in the DIY trend. Or, you can focus on building stylish farmhouse pieces that are simple in construction but solid and elegant.
Linda Fennessy - Kitchen Magic
When considering redecorating your home, the kitchen is often overlooked. A new kitchen table doesn’t always result in the transformation your looking for. The cabinets, in particular, are thought to be part of the structure and a major home renovation.
When thinking about a cabinet refresh, consider cabinet refacing. It’s a fraction of the cost of ripping them all out. Using 75% of your kitchen cabinets, refacing entails using your existing cabinet boxes, laminating t them in a new color and style. Then replacing the doors & drawers with “all new”. New knobs and pulls and you have a new kitchen. Voila! you’ve just changed 80% of your kitchen’s décor by repurposing the cabinet boxes.
This is an often overlooked kitchen decorating solution, thinking it will break the bank. Most times, it’s the doors and drawers that have taken a beating over the years. With refacing, these are all replaced. Not to mention you have great value in cabinet boxes that are original to the home, typically of furniture-grade quality. No permits required and it’s done in 3-5 days.
The color & style of a kitchen are what make up much of a home’s décor & style. You can take your style from modern to transitional or to traditional with refacing.
Additionally, wood is out and maintenance free laminates are in. Think fences and decks, there are new innovations in kitchen remodeling and materials that are more conducive to the heat and moisture that a kitchen environment includes. Also, faux woods, whites and grays are taking the kitchen décor industry by storm. Happy remodeling!
Elizabeth Rogers - Hannah Lowman
We love using repurposed furniture from sources like Craigslist, antique shops, and second-hand stores in our clients' homes to give them an "old meets new" look.
Buying all brand-new furniture can sometimes give homes a boring "I bought all of this from a catalog" vibe while layering in older pieces adds character and charm.
We love painting furniture to give it a unique feel or swapping out knobs for an updated look. Use repurposed furniture as accents in your design: splurge on a new sofa and buy repurposed accent tables, for instance.
Or buy an older dining table and pair it with modern, streamlined chairs. The ticket is to layer in several older pieces with new, updated ones.
Becca and Shannon - Situate Design
You know that old furniture you are sick of looking at, but want to keep for whatever reason. Maybe you can't afford to buy new furniture for the whole house, or maybe it was passed down and has sentimental value.
It sounds simple, but really one of our favorite things to do is simply relocate it to another room. We have found that oftentimes people forget that furniture can be moved.
An old dresser say, morphs into a 'statement piece' once moved to an entry, and accessorized with a more contemporary display of flowers.
Even an antique dining table gets a whole fresh usage when weather coated, then moved to an outdoor space. What people forget is that what makes a home interesting, is a mix of old an new.
The key is balancing the older re-purposed items with updated more modern items to assure the feel isn't too "Thrift store granny"
Recently I had a living room accent chair I wasn't excited about anymore, so I moved it into the dining room, in a little corner that wasn't occupied before and now it's our new favorite little nook of the house.
Like clothing, we forget items can have a new perception if placed in a different context. It doesn't always have to be re-painted or reupholstered to be repurposed.
Kymberlyn Lacy - International Flair Designs
Country, modern, glam is one of the most requested interior design looks that clients are requesting. This look creates a room design that is polished but is scaled down for everyday living.
To achieve this look in your home try incorporating decorative vintage doors to use as coffee tables or add old barn doors creating a paired down yet, comfortable feel for entryways.
Brass hardware fixtures for kitchens/baths & lighting are a thing of the past but they are definitely on trend this season. I love to use them in their old patina state versus polishing them up to me personally it gives the lighting fixtures a bit of personality.
Sometimes, the lighting fixture may need to be rewired but I’ve found that to be no problem at all. Wiring kits can be found at any box store and are super inexpensive.
Once a thing of 70’s past that are definitely back in Curved & tufted sofas are definitely in style. We love to reupholstery this pieces to incorporate into design.
Elizabeth Hennigan - Mattress Advisor
Did you know 85% of the materials used to make a mattress can be recycled? Yet, 20 million mattresses end up in the landfill every year, which is really bad news for the environment.
The average lifespan of a traditional innerspring mattress is roughly 7 to 10 years. However, if you are waking up with aches and pains, notice a sag towards the middle of the bed or the surface feels lumpy, it’s probably time for an upgrade.
Once you decide to bite the bullet and get a new mattress, here are three ways to repurpose your old one instead of tossing it out.
1. Use the Stuffing for Pillows
Is it time for a pillow upgrade? We all know throw pillows can make or break a room. But sometimes they run a little pricey. Try making your own pillows using the stuffing from your old mattress. All you’ll need is the fabric.
2. Turn the springs into holders
Flower holders, candle holders, wine bottle holders, you name it. The springs from your old mattress pose have the perfect rustic accent to any room. The size of the spring will determine the use.
3. Turn the mattress into a daybed or couch
If your child is upgrading beds and you have a twin mattress laying around, you may be able to make a daybed or loveseat for your porch.
If you are interested in recreating this pallet couch, check out this step-by-step guide.
Don’t worry. If crafts aren’t your thing, you can opt to donate or recycle your mattress. Recycled mattresses can be turned into a variety of other household items such as clothing, carpet stuffing and pet beds. Just avoid sending your old mattress to the landfill at all costs.
Dean Signori - Homesdirect365.co.uk
It’s now become a weekly habit of mine; endlessly scrolling through home décor websites and flicking the pages of every house and home magazine money can buy. We all love the idea of adding a touch of luxury and style in your home by re-vamping or re-decorating one of your rooms. But furnishing your home can sometimes be a mammoth task not to mention it could be costly and most of all exhausting.
That’s when repurposed furniture comes in! Consider using repurposed furniture to avoid the hassle and lighten the load on your purse with the same breathtaking results for your home. With just a bit of creativity, you can repurpose furniture that you can find or are being unused.
As the famous metaphorical phase goes, you should never judge a book by its cover. This quote couldn’t be truer when it comes to furniture. Look beyond the furniture’s current state and start to think about its potential. Never let some rusted handles, chipped exterior or general worm appearance stop you!
What should you keep an eye out for?
Most importantly when looking at old or rustic pieces, the thing you should always ask yourself is ‘is the base good?’ By this we mean if a fabric chair or sofa has tattered fabric, then look at the frame and base, if it’s still in very good condition and solid you could easily revamp it by upholstering it. Alternatively, if a chest has chipped paint but a very solid structure, you can simply sand it down and varnish for a brilliant repurpose.
Look at what your room needs or how a certain piece would fit in. Need a taller chest to make the most of floor space? No problem, combine two small chests. Or perhaps a nice daybed is exactly what you need by your living room window? Have a plan and vision set in place and it’s hard to go wrong.
Clever Repurposing Tips:
- On furniture pieces with old or broken glass, simply replace with chicken wire
- Add a lightly distressed effect on old wooden pieces for the ultimate shabby chic look
- Paint two old tattered side tables to match for perfect bedside tables
- Strip old painted pieces and varnish for that natural wooden appeal.
It's amazing what a little paint can do! Give your old dresser or desk a new life with a fresh coat of paint. I had an old vintage dresser from an estate sale that I completely transformed with white paint and new hardware. It looked like a completely different piece!
For my college apartment, I once used floral wallpaper and modge-podged it to the legs of my desk stool. It was easy and a fun way to incorporate a little pattern.
One of my most popular hacks was turning a hanging flower basket into a cute chandelier in about a half hour.
Katy Brut - NY Furniture Outlets
The first thing that always comes in mind is Paint! Almost every furniture piece can be turned in a shabby chic masterpiece when repainted. But, follow all the guidelines indicated on the package of paint and prepare yourself wisely for the rebuilding process.
Most DIY projects finish in a trash bin with no single photo over the net, so everything you see online is a small percent of all attempts to blow a new life in old furniture. So starting with painting, but it definitely relates to any other technique of restoration or DIY project.
Another thing is that furniture can be used “off-label”. For example, split the chair in half, attach it to the large canvas in a big carved wood frame and voila! You have a massive decor item that will attract attention, and has all chances to look nice!
Don’t be afraid of experiments, but think thoughtfully about what you are going to do and how.
Andrew Girardin - Dream Kitchen Solutions
To repurpose old furniture can be quite the challenge and fun! From using old bookshelves as hanger by mounting bent spoons for towels or mug gups, to cutting boards or even wall-hung shelving, it all comes down to creativity and time.
One of my personal hacks is to transform dressers into mobile kitchen islands via simple wheels and a dash of extra tweaks, to make it the ultimate handy workspace for patios, terraces or even as you watch TV.
You could even fit a small microwave or induction hot plate. All you need is to add a good extension cord.
Another handy idea is to use shoe racks or even blanket racks as holders for fruit or dishes.
Old drawers could serve as holders for spices or even fresh herbs, that you can bring in and back to your window or terrace, only when you're actually cooking. If big enough, drawers could also be repurposed as small tables and even shelving too.
Morgan McBride - Charleston Crafted
Most people see an old piece of furniture and decide to replace it with something new. Sometimes with some paint and ingenuity, that piece of furniture can be turned into something new.
The thing to do is to look at the structure of the piece and then imagine if its elements can be used in a different way. Can something be flipped upside down and attached to something else? Can you attach legs to an old cabinet to make it a bookshelf? Can you cut a hole in something to add a new element?
Repurposing furniture is all about trying to get creative with how you can use a piece in a different way.
Some examples that I made:
- Side table from a vase and chip and dip platter
- Sewing table into a bar
- Upper cabinet into a trash can
Savannah Jayne - The Plain Jayne
Repurposing furniture is a long time love of mine! I love going to garage sales, thrift stores and antique shops for special finds. I think my absolute favorite way of repurposing, is chalk paint.
While most think of chalk paint they think of black paint that you can write on, but it’s actually so much more than that! With chalk paint, you don’t have to prime the furniture or strip it — which for a busy working gal like me, is a HUGE time saver.
I tend to change the way my home looks quite often, so investing in expensive furniture is never really a great spend for me, hence why I tend to re-use or repurpose older pieces.
I also love spray paint for giving older pieces you already own a fresh look. The trick with spray paint is to not use it on something that gets a lot of wear. Spray paint tends to chip easily, so I like to use this on smaller items I don’t use as much. I recently spray painted an Ikea bar cart with copper paint and I loved the results.
I’ve also done this with smaller pieces like picture frames, vases, and mirrors. To completely change the look of the space, sometimes all you need is a $5 can of spray paint and you are good to go.
Elizabeth Dodson - HomeZada
This simple tip is my favorite for re-purposing furniture. Most people have platters or serving bowls of some sort. These serving pieces can make great centerpieces on a coffee table. They can hold keys on a side table as you walk in the door. They can be sued during the holidays to hold bulbs and another décor.
Although serving pieces are not traditionally furniture, they are a small item that can make a big impact. And most people do not think to use these pieces for a different purpose. Serving pieces can be multi-purpose.
Jill Hosking - Cartland Hosking Interiors
An inherited, decades-old dresser that has seen better days can be repurposed as a foyer table. After reinventing it by giving it a fresh coat of stain or paint, change the hardware to suit your style, and use it as an entry table to greet family and friends.
A previously loved dining table can be repurposed as a coffee table. Shorten the legs, stain, paint or distress it to coordinate with your family room furniture, and enjoy it for years to come.
Eva Bowker - Fantastic Services Group
My favorite type of furniture you can repurpose are drawers!
You can use them for a small vintage garden - just paint them a bright color, add soil and plant your favorite type of flowers in it.
Use them as a tray - you can decorate them with washi tape, stickers or anything you like and use them as a tray for the cozy breakfast in bed.
Use them as shelving - Repaint if you want and screw the drawers on the walls with the bottom forward. Decorate the bottom however you like as it will be exposed. Use them to store your favorite photos or to expose beautiful accessories.
You can even use them to create a shoe shelf, just make sure to screw them lower on the wall.
Another favorite tip I often share is to use an old dresser to create a kitchen island from it to expand the storage space and transform the look of your kitchen. Repaint it in a color that matches your kitchen interior and you're done.
A big thanks to all the experts that contributed to this post! If you enjoyed reading this roundup, please share the love on social media with your friends and family who could use some advice for their home.