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Upcycling Old Furniture into Trendy Home Decor



Upcycling can be described as the recycling of old material that was thrown away or deemed useless. And now with the minimal or extra resources converted into products of higher economic or ecological endowment. As far as the furniture is concerned, upcycling is nothing but taking such old pieces that some people may regard as trash while others transform them into stylish statement pieces. The end game is economical decorating that may cost even less than buying a new one but at the same time minimizing waste and accentuating your own taste.


In this article, let’s discuss some basics of furniture upcycling, from wall prepping and furniture repair to cool DIY trends.

What Pieces May Feature Upcycling Potential

Not all old furniture is suitable for upcycling. Take a look at old stuff with an intact frame or structure that can be built upon. There are excellent wooden pieces of furniture to consider: dressers, tables, chairs, and cabinets. Meanwhile, processing imperfections are usually not very complicated to correct, while structural damage is more challenging.

Metal furniture can also be suitable for upcycling if it’s still sturdy. Refer to bed frames, metal cabinets, carts, and any apparatus having steady rails or netting. Recycled metal often gives an urban, edgy, current, and industrial feeling.

Don’t overlook other household items like windows, doors, shutters, and even ladders, which make unexpectedly chic bookshelves. Cruise thrift stores, garage sales or even the bulk trash pickup days in affluent neighborhoods to score unique pieces with upcycling potential at bargain prices.

How to Prepare and Repair Furniture for Upcycling

The best way to prepare pieces of furniture for upcycling is by gently sanding the surface of the wood. This will remove any rubber material, paint, or other old finishes. Before the actual upcycling makeover, prep and restore the structural integrity of the item you’re working on. Replace worn-out hardware such as hinges and knobs. Then, clean the surfaces thoroughly so as to get rid of the grime. This will help you determine non-obvious problem areas that need repair.

To streamline the process of repairs and modifications, arrange a dedicated workbench area. An old table or durable surface will be just ok. Complement it with a sturdy vise to create a stable workspace for sawing, sanding, staining, and painting. Also, look for proper illumination above, as well as access to power outlets to create a perfect DIY zone.

Pay special attention to wood surfaces, as moisture damage and rot can weaken joints. A scraper or sandpaper can help you remove peeling paint. To deal with small imperfections, fill them with wood putty and secure detached joints or legs with wood glue and clamps. Sand until smooth and prime with two coats of primer before painting or staining.

Image by Freepik

Trendy Upcycling Furniture Projects

When sourcing furniture, think beyond the intended use. A ladder transforms into a bookshelf. A dresser converts into a kitchen island. Let’s look at some of the most popular ways to turn discarded furniture into trendy focal points:


  • Bathroom vanities (use the drawers for fold storage)
  • Kitchen islands (removable to clean around)
  • Mudroom lockers for extra storage
  • Room dividers
  • Plant stands

Windows and Ladders

  • Full-length mirror frames
  • Towel holders
  • Shelving units

Chairs and Tables

  • Garden plant stands
  • Side tables/lamp stands
  • Tiered displays for collectibles

Beds and Dressers

  • Repurposed headboards on walls
  • Extra seating with bed bench
  • Under-bed roll-out storage

With some imagination, the upcycling possibilities are truly endless for giving tired pieces new life. The key is envisioning the potential beyond the original form.

Add Painting and Finishing Touches

For a completely refreshed look, painting or staining is a must. When working with natural wood furniture, opt for stains that accent the natural grain. For everything else, chalk and milk paint create a trendy timeworn patina for vintage appeal without chemicals.

Look to the hottest home trends for inspiration on color palettes and combinations. Navy blue, forest green, and black remain classic go-tos for more traditional-looking pieces. While bright colors like teal, mustard yellow, and coral red inject cheer for eclectic mid-century pieces.

Search for inexpensive trinkets to give your upcycled furniture that final polish. Replace dated hardware with updated brushed bronze or matte black knobs and pulls. These add-ons can modernize the look instantly. Displaying favorite art prints or a hanging plant atop a repurposed dresser-turned-buffet infuses personality. And strategically placed lighting boost the decor item proving it is not an ordinary piece of storage.

Benefits of Upcycling Old Furniture

Beyond gaining custom decor, upcycling old furniture has many benefits:

  • Sustainability – Repurposing unwanted items reduces waste being sent to landfills. It also requires fewer newly produced materials than buying new furniture.
  • Uniqueness – With DIY upcycling, you can create truly one-of-a-kind designs that feel special.
  • Cost savings – Furniture upcycling provides decor on a budget, perfect for renters or temporary spaces.
  • Learn new skills – From basic sanding and painting to reupholstering, restore neglected treasures while expanding your DIY talents.


Home improvements are of course for the somewhat environmentally aware individual aiming at bringing back life in an old space without having to spend serious money. Upcycling of unwanted furniture is, therefore, a great eco-chic win-win. Amidst a little creativity and a dose of sweat, outdated dressers, and inglorious garage sale treasures, a piece of furniture will magically become a real game changer complementing your interior.

These simple upcycling practices will empower you to breathe new life into your weary furnishings and give them another reason to thrive. Find the ones that are made of solid wood and metal and that come with a solid structure. Prepare the surface properly and make all the necessary repairs in advance if painting or staining the walls. Look to current design trends to get inspired when selecting colors and accents. Make the new piece look like something fresh rather than an old thing. The end-recycled product prevents good products from being thrown out into the landfills and leaving behind a colorful and fashionable decor piece that’s also kind to your wallet.