Repurposing old furniture creates a unique look inexpensively

How to Repurpose Old Furniture

by Lynn Bulmahn


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Using old items in new ways can decorate your home for less. If an item isn't useful for its original purpose, adapt it to other uses.

For example, the most unique fish aquarium I've ever seen was a converted TV set. Prior to the 1980s, most televisions stood on the floor as furniture. You'll still occasionally find an older TV set at an estate sale, a thrift store, or even by the garbage bin.

One clever hobbyist gutted the electronics from just such a vintage 1960s TV set. Carefully cutting off the wooden top, he added a piano hinge and holder so it could be raised and lowered much like a car trunk. This allows access to the fish tank from above.

He retained the outer glass on the front of the set and retrofitted a fish aquarium inside. The glass fish tank was the exact dimensions of the TV's interior. Now, instead of a show, he watches his tropical fish swim about in their amazing new home.

My musician friend bought a 1930s radio cabinet sans the electronics. She's refinishing the insides for her piano room. It will be a perfect storage spot for sheets of music and hymnals.

Related: Repurposing Items for Your Garden and Outdoor Living Space

My antique dresser had drawers that were too shallow for clothing storage. We first used it to hold towels and toiletries in a bathroom. Now, it graces our new home's foyer. Because rolls of wrapping paper fit perfectly in the wide drawers, the dresser does double duty as an entryway table/mirror and storage for gift-wrap supplies.

A handyman needed wall cabinets and a work surface. He reused kitchen cabinets, counters, and countertops from a 60-year-old house slated for demolition. Smaller tools and supplies are neatly stored behind cabinet doors, and the counter-turned-workbench is just the right size for projects. The retro 1950s design creates a fantastic-looking workshop.

Designing a custom home, a couple had a salvaged one-piece porcelain sink and "drain board" installed in a bathroom. The vintage kitchen sink is more spacious than a regular lavatory, and they're able to bathe the baby in it!

You might also like: Repurposing an Entertainment Center

Many people have bought flat screen TVs, which won't fit in their old style entertainment centers. So, they're getting rid of the latter items via Craigslist or garage sales. You can buy them pretty cheap; if you're lucky, you might rescue one at the curb on garbage day. Old entertainment centers are great for regular storage.

When microwaves first hit the market, they were too big to fit on a kitchen counter. People bought special carts to hold them. Now that microwaves have been downsized, discarded carts often end up in garage sales or thrift stores. I merely took the casters off one such cart to transform it into a larger-than-average nightstand. As a bedside table, it holds the clock radio, lamp, and tons of reading materials.

Don't automatically trash something when you remodel. Think of a new use for it. After sacrificing a small closet to enlarge a bathroom, I put the solid-wood closet shelf to new use in the laundry room. Sturdier than wire or particle board shelving, it didn't cost a cent.

A wood and particle board bathroom space saver cabinet was almost thrown out when a renter bought a house. But, the new home's half-bathroom lacked storage. Instead of completely reassembling the space saver, the homeowner just mounted its upper cabinet section to the wall and discarded the legs.

Crafts to make and sell eBooks. Pick a craft project, make it and sell it!

Used furniture and building materials can be obtained for little to no money. You're only limited by your imagination as to how to repurpose old furniture around your home!

Take the Next Step:

  • To learn more on cleaning and repairing furniture, please visit The Dollar Stretcher library .
  • Check out The Dollar Stretcher Library for more on recycling/repurposing household items.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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