How to Repurpose Old Furniture and Home Décor in Clever Ways
Our editors love to take what's old and give it a new purpose—furniture and household items included. There are endless ways to upcycle everyday items into unexpected, beautiful pieces that you can't find anywhere else—and most of them are found right at home. Some of our favorite projects involve those where seemingly one-dimensional items, or household favorites that have become worn, can be completely revolutionized with a simple approach. Updating items to help them reach their fullest potential in your home's design scheme can be easy as a fresh coat of paint. Best of all, you'll find that most of these types of projects require just an hour or two of your time.
Your home is the best source for repurposed furniture and home décor. Take a look around: Maybe you've pared down your collection of porcelain china, and no longer have a need for that display cabinet. Perhaps that trunk-turned-table would be best used doing double duty for storage. Could a broken door would now better serve as a headboard above the bed? When it comes to old furniture, there's more than one way to use and display time-honored favorites. Otherwise, check yard sales, antique stores, and flea markets for one-of-a-kind finds, and modify our do-it-yourself steps if you find one with a different design.
Overhauling furniture is easier than ever with our tips and tricks, which include ideas for cleverly disguising worn or other unwanted details on wooden surfaces, hardware, and the furniture itself. Here, browse our editors' best ideas for repurposing your furniture and smaller home décor pieces—they're all pretty, practical, and perfect for your home.
Updated Piano Bench
Whether your dressing area is tiny or you just firmly believe that there should be a place for everything, this trick will be music to your ears. Repurpose a piano bench into a vanity seat by painting it to complement your space and adding a cushion (we covered a piece of foam in fabric and Velcroed it to the wood), lining the built-in storage bin with paper, and filling it with clear trays to hold hair products and tools. No more curling irons junking up the place—bravo!
Draw back the doors on this stately piece of furniture and you're privy to our best-kept entertaining secret. This armoire is tricked out with everything you need to really shake things up as a home mixologist—liquor, glasses, the works—by taking the basic linen closet, painting it inside and out, and giving it a stylish backsplash with smoky mirrored tiles.
Stepladder Bed Stand
Take advantage of every bit of bedroom space by stacking your nighttime necessities instead of crowding them on top of a tiny stand. The four wide rungs of an extra stepladder provide a steady spot for a row of books as well as the necessary alarm clock and a reading lamp.
Office in a Chest
Transform a traditional piece of bedroom furniture into a multitasking mini office, complete with bulletin board and filing cabinet. Bring the paper to a home-supply store that sells wooden drawer organizers, and arrange enough organizers on top of the paper to cover the surface. At home, paint the organizers to match the chest, and let dry. Use wood glue to attach to one another. To create a filing system, insert adjustable hanging file-folder frames inside the chest.
Garden-Shed Crate Cabinets
Create custom cabinetry in your garden shed with vintage wine crates. Stack them horizontally and vertically, using some as bases to vary heights. Once you've established a layout, connect crates with wood screws and collars near the corners. Use cup hooks to hang smaller items, such as trowels, funnels, and scissors. If the need for storage grows, you can easily reconfigure the system.
A solid old door, refinished and hung sideways, becomes a perfect—and perfectly inexpensive—headboard for a bed. A strip of crown molding along the top edge offers a neat finish and a handy spot for a small alarm clock. To mount the headboard, cut a 1-by-4 to the headboard's width, and then cut it lengthwise on a 45-degree angle into two equal strips. Securely screw one strip to the back of the door and attach the second to the wall, so the angles interlock to hang the headboard.
Coat-Hook Mail Sorter
Old coat hooks can be mounted on a wooden plaque and put to work corralling the daily mail. Paint or stain a precut plaque, available at crafts stores. Paint hooks to desired color. Secure the hooks side-by-side with 1/2-inch wood screws. Repeat to form additional rows to separate your mail.
Just because an antique platter or plate is scratched, cracked, or broken, its useful life doesn't have to end. Its patterned border can be used as the decorative frame for a mirror. Even noticeably damaged china can work, especially when paired with antique-seeming fogged-mirror glass. If the platter is an unusual size or shape, have a professional glass cutter use your template to custom-cut a mirror. Request a polished edge, which is safer to handle. To attach the mirror glass to the platter permanently, use ceramic epoxy. Cluster several mirror plates to brighten a dining-room wall, or mount an elegant platter above the bathroom sink for flattering reflections. Although our transferware-framed mirror seems to dangle from a beribboned picture nail, it's actually secured by a plate hanger.
Don't have the space that a walk-in closet demands? Try building a walk-by. An old ladder bridges the gap between two basic shelving units and creates a homey space to hang clothes-a far cry from the typical sterile, stainless steel rod. To make the supports that will hold each end of your ladder, measure the depth of your shelving units and cut two pieces of 2-by-4-inch wood to fit. You can also have them cut to size at a store like Home Depot.