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antique side table pink rosesRing out the old, and ring in the new, they say. But, wait! You don’t necessarily have to throw that old piece of furniture or decor accessory away! Upcycling is the newest and greenest form of shabby chic and it’s a fantastic way to decorate your home on the cheap.

If you’ve got unwanted furniture lying around – an old headboard, a ratty coffee table, a water-stained cabinet – you just might have hidden treasure on your hands. Here’s how to turn seven trash-bound items into something worth saving:

Tables

Sometimes all it takes to breathe life back into a table is a fresh burst of color. Electrify a drab room by painting an old coffee table flaming orange or techno blue. Cover a damaged kitchen tabletop with swatches of retro wallpaper and invite friends over for a unique dining experience.

Hide furniture imperfections with a decoupage of photographs, book pages, sheet music, or post cards. Or embrace those imperfections, distress the table using sandpaper for that shabby chic look. The possibilities are endless.

Ladders

An old stepladder, rejuvenated with paint and mounted on a wall, becomes a charming utility shelf for photographs or knickknacks. Two side-by-side ladders with sheets of finished plywood shared between their rungs become a one-of-a-kind, versatile piece of shelving. Why spend loads of money on furniture store products when you can create them for free at home?

Shutters

Restored shutters can become an unexpected accent piece in any room. Paint shutters and angle them against the wall behind your bed for a unique headboard. Hook shutters to the wall and use the louvers to hold correspondence and bills. Secure shutters on four legs for an uncommon sofa table and conversation piece.

Doors

When a door closes, a window opens. Or maybe you just take the door and upcycle it into something new. Turn an old door into a rustic gardening table by placing it on four sturdy, overturned terra cotta flower pots. Paint and hang a door behind your bed for an inexpensive headboard. Whatever you do, don’t throw this magnificent piece of wood away. Find it a new purpose.

Cabinets

Old cabinets come cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. Stack two mismatched cabinets, the smaller one on top of the larger one, to create an instant, one-of-a-kind armoire.

Headboards

Another fabulous piece of wood you should never throw away is an old headboard. Headboards make great hanging racks: Simply add hooks and secure to the wall and you instantly have a place to store coats, keys, and other miscellaneous items. Add a sheet of galvanized metal to an old headboard to create a magnetic message center.

Useless, Damaged, and Broken

Just about anything can be upcycled into useful and amazing furniture, as evidenced by Hannah Plumb and James Russel’s use of old suitcases in these unique chests of drawers. This creative team of two, otherwise known as JamesPlumb, makes a habit of salvaging damaged and broken furniture and turning it into something beautiful and practical.

It takes some thinking outside the box — or in this instance, the suitcase — but the results are gorgeous, economical, and green.

Instead of shopping the furniture store, keep your costs down by upcycling the things you already have.  It’s a fun and satisfying way to personalize your surroundings while saving money and the environment.

 

 

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.