Easy DIY Ideas: Repurposed Furnishings

Faced with a tight budget? Under-furnished rooms? Check out these fab furnishings ingeniously built from an array of objects. Put your imagination into play, and within a weekend or two you’ll be enjoying distinctive digs decorated with way-cool stuff you’ve created from castoffs and underused elements.

Entry chest of drawers

Furnishings on wheels are versatile and flexible so always give a wheeled piece a careful look to spark ideas about how it might be used. An old chest of drawers with a damaged finish gets a makeover with paint in a pretty shade of aqua. Set next to the front door, the chest provides storage for outwear accessories and a spot to drop keys and mail, as well as a large mirror for last-minute primping. When needed, though, the chest can be rolled to the adjoining dining room to stand in as an extra sideboard when entertaining.


Vintage metal cart

We love the idea of using a cart as a beverage bar that travels between rooms. Widely spaced shelves provide permanent homes for large-scale entertaining gear, such as ice buckets, cocktail shakers, and wine carafes.


Kitchen cart
Use a utility cart to supplement a kitchen’s storage capacity and boost its efficiency. Fill shelves with cooking essentials and baking supplies stored in good-looking jars. If large enough, the cart can stand in as a kitchen island that occupies the center ground or moves to oven- or sink-side when tasks demand it. Or, employ a cart as a breakfast-making post. Equip it with coffeemaker, toaster, a stocked breadbox, and cereal, teabags, and coffee beans stored in containers.


Industrial cart coffee table
This vintage factory cart adds sturdy character and a rich patina to a contemporary sofa. Its weight ensures it won’t roll around willy-nilly, but can be scooted out of the way for gaming or other family room activities.


Chicken cage coffee table
Ideally suited to small spaces, this chicken-crate construction appears to take up less room than its more solid counterparts. Since some barnyard-animal crates have an open-air design you’ll need to add a solid top to create a functional coffee table. Simply cut lengths of reclaimed barn wood to fit the top, butt the boards against each other, and attach to the crate’s frame with screws. Make it moveable by adding a caster to each corner; consider using surface-mounted plate casters instead of stem casters, which are inserted into a piece’s lower edge.


Book stack side table
Rethink the obvious. Give new purpose to almost obsolete objects. There are lots of ways to create a functional side table or nightstand. For example, run out of bookshelves? No worries. Stack a pile of your largest and heaviest tomes next to living room or library seating for an instant side table. Face colorful spines outward for rhythmic bars of color. Storage and furnishing solution in one!


Wine crate side table

If you’re lucky enough to come across a wooden wine bottle crate complete with bottle, grab it! Topped with a piece of ready-made tabletop glass or cut-to-fit glass the crates make handsome end tables and nightstands. Create a comparable accessory by equipping any tall open-sided wooden crate with a perfectly proportioned bottle and glass top. Not a crate in sight? Custom-build a case from weathered boards; give the piece provenance by painting or wood-burning on a made-in date or place of origin.


Wine crate side table

Catalogue, corral, and keep your favorite books or periodicals conveniently arranged in a crate or wooden box. Look for wooden crates or boxes with corners that are sturdy and thick enough to stand up to the weight of books or magazines (these can really pack on the pounds!).


Crate stack nightstand
Configure a storage-rich nightstand from a set of matching vintage crates. The wide top provides ample space for a bedside lamp, clock, and a current read while the cubbies hold organized craft materials, books, framed photos, and journaling items. For stability, join the crates together on the back with brackets.


Vintage desk nightstand
In a country-style bedroom, this vintage child’s desk looks right at home. The repurposed nightstand offers two surface levels to hold night-time necessities plus space beneath for a storage basket.


Step ladder nightstand
Weathered and paint-spattered stepladders find new life as nifty nightstands that hold reading materials, vintage alarm clocks, and candlestick lamps on either side of the bed.


Pallet headboard
A wood shipping pallet becomes an inexpensive (free, in fact!) headboard that adds rustic texture. A coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence gives the mismatched woods uniformity and polish.


Pallet daybed
Get your hands on a large enough pallet and you’ve got the foundation for a sofa, daybed, or twin bed. Screw locking surface-mounted plate castors to each corner of the pallet and in the center front and back for stability and extra support. Top it with a twin-size mattress covered in a pretty quilt.


Pallet hall tree
Make a hall tree from a plain pallet and give it a colorful makeover with paint leftovers. Devise a scheme that works with your hallway and what paints you have on hand. Then, paint the slats in a series of bright and neutral hues. Add a set or a mismatched group of hooks to the pallet for coats, headgear, backpacks, anything that you need to grab on your way out the door. Hang on the wall near the door with a mounting system guaranteed to support the combined weight of the wood and hanging items.


Pallet pantry shelves
If you lack a dedicated pantry, a large pallet hung with its top to the wall becomes a handy shelf system for pantry items. Place it above a countertop where you perform most of your baking tasks or near the stove for easy access to ingredients. As with the hall tree above, use a mounting system that will support the weight of the pallet and shelf contents.


Ladder shelves

In a family or media room, a stepladder fitted with 48-inch shelves holds a surprising number of board games and collectibles. Choose shelves in a finish that complements both the ladder and the decor of the room.


Dining room hutch
An old bedroom dresser gets new a new look and purpose as a dining room hutch. A coat of creamy white paint brightens the formerly natural wood piece and new iron-finish hardware gives it a style boost. The step-back surface of the hutch is the ideal spot for a bar. A woven tray organizes service items while a small wine rack keeps bottles ready on the shelf above. Stock the drawers with bar tools, napkins, placemats, and tablecloths as well as serving bowls, dessert plates, and silverware.


With a fresh finish and simple inserts, you can turn an underused piece of furniture, like this revamped armoire, into a useful and hardworking solution for optimal storage. The newly outfitted wardrobe section of the armoire stows an array of freshly pressed table linens that hang neatly from the rail on trouser hangers and keep the cloths fold-free. A shelf above stows cake pedestals. A generously-sized retail wine rack from World Market fits perfectly into the other wardrobe space of the armoire. The shelf above and drawer below hold additional service pieces and accessories. Baskets keep napkins and napkin rings tidy in one small drawer while boxes sort candles by size in another. Wider drawers are ideal for stacking placemats, chargers, and flatware. See the details here.


Dining room sideboard
When you find a piece of furniture that inspires ideas for using it in multiple ways, like IKEA’s affordable Kallax unit, you know you’ve hit on a must-have item.

The Kallax shelf makes an adaptable alternative to the traditional dining room sideboard when modified with eight door compartments. Inside, there’s plenty of room for dinnerware, serving pieces, candles, and other supplies. A set of casters makes it easy to move the piece when desired.


Entry bench
The dining room piece would look equally at home near the front door. Just top it with a key tray and a framed mirror and use the compartments to organize your entry. Or opt for the one-row shelf unit as we did here, creating a storage bench for a mudroom or entry hall. Add a colorful cushion and cheery patterned pillows for comfort. Tuck baskets or trays into the cubbies to store outerwear or shoes.

We’d love to see how you’ve repurposed items for furnishings in your home. Tell us about them in the comments or show us on our Facebook page.


© Caruth Studio

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  1. Debra Steilen

    Loving the pic with large books stacked to create a side table. I see that kind of creation appearing in my living room in the near future! Thanks for the idea!

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