In the times we live, you might be looking for a craft or DIY project to keep yourself occupied during the cold winter months. You might even consider getting a head start on your spring cleaning and clearing some old stuff.
That might include some furniture but don’t throw it out yet. You might be able to repurpose it. This article will advise you on why you might want to repurpose furniture, what you need to know before you start and how you can try it yourself, looking at things such as how to repurpose bedside tables, drawers and other bedroom furniture items.
Repurposing is more than just a trend.
Suppose you haven’t yet heard of repurposing furniture. In that case, it’s often used interchangeably with upcycling. It refers to the process of using an item in a way that differs from its original use or altering the authentic look of an item.
This could include anything from converting a dresser into a desk, revamping a tired-looking cupboard with a fresh coat of paint, or simply changing the traditional positioning of an item of furniture. The possibilities are endless, and the more creative you can be, the better.
But most of all, people favour repairing over replacing not only to introduce quirky vintage fashion statements into their homes but also because of its sustainability.
Older furniture is renowned for the quality that has gone into the craftwork of the items. Sometimes, it’s just too good to throw away. With some care and attention, old furniture can enjoy a new lease of life and become a durable alternative to more modern furniture that sometimes needs replacing within a few years.
Now, let’s get into how you can repurpose furniture yourself.
You may only be a lick of paint away from transforming old to new.
General tips before you start repurposing furniture
We won’t lie: repurposing furniture is always a pretty exciting project! Unfortunately, you can’t just dive into it, so here are a few general tips before you get to work on that project.
Preparation and planning
When it comes to repurposing furniture, anyone can get involved. However, having a creative plan before starting is essential so you don’t give up halfway through. Preparation is also crucial. This means knowing what tools and supplies you’ll need before you start, making sure they’re clean, and your rescued item is primed to ensure your creation’s longevity and avoid a botch job. Take your time and enjoy the DIY process.
To form a plan, we recommend doing a little bit of research about your furniture piece first. If it’s vintage, what’s the period? Knowing something about the history of your furniture can help you get the style right. Certain pieces might suit bold decoupage but look unsightly with a shiny varnish. Researching what you plan to do to see if anyone has already done it before is an excellent way to see what works and what doesn’t before it’s too late.
Imagination and creativity
There’s no right or wrong when giving a piece of furniture a new purpose. If executed well, the more unusual the idea, the more likely it will succeed. Pinterest is an excellent place to start to get used to seeing the potential in older furniture.
Let’s say you don’t have a piece of furniture already knocking about in the loft or garage that you want to renovate but do have an idea about a new piece of furniture you want. Rather than heading straight to the high street for a brand-new piece that fits your vision, try checking out charity shop furniture stores and antique shops first. Vintage pieces found here will be cheaper and also more original.
How to repurpose your bedside table
Wooden bedside tables are hard-wearing and will last you decades. But with home décor trends changing by the year, you don’t want your old furniture to hold you back.
So, rather than taking a trip to the dump, you can give your wooden bedside tables a DIY makeover to fit your new interior colour scheme or wallpaper design. Here’s a step-by-step guide to revamping your side tables with paint, decoupage or both!
(Note: This method can be used for any wooden furniture piece, not only bedside tables.)
- Remove fixtures. Start by using a screwdriver to remove any hardware or handles from the drawers of the bedside table. If you don’t wish to change the handles later on, place the fixings in a cup or a small, sealed bag so you don’t lose them.
- Fill any holes. If your item is ancient, it might have a few chips and cosmetic wear. Woodworm is also common. To achieve an even finish later, now’s the time to fill in any holes with a wood filler. If you plan on adding new handles to your finished piece, you can use filler for these, too.
- Start sanding. Using a block and sandpaper or an electric sander in a circular motion, rub down the bedside table to remove any roughness and prepare the timber for treatment. If the side table has been painted once before, sanding also removes paint and feather edge chips. Don’t forget to wear goggles and a mask when doing this to avoid the dust!
- Clean up. Sanding can be messy, so once you’ve finished, brush your bedside table with a brush and hoover away the dust. Then, wipe your unit clean with a damp cloth with sugar soap. The bedside table must be dry and free of dust before you move on.
- Use a primer. A base layer primer will give you a better finish and make your paint job last longer. Try a shellac-based primer if your unit has been painted once before to avoid any colour seeping through, but if it’s your first time painting the bedside table, a water primer will be quick to use and fast drying.
- Apply the paint. Take your chosen paint and give it a good stir in the can before pouring it into a paint kettle or tray. Apply the paint to the bedside table using even strokes. Use a smaller brush for trickier areas and corners. Once the layer has dried and before applying a second coat, give the surface very light sand to remove any drips and achieve a smooth finish.
- Check your plan. Here’s where it’s good to have a plan about where you want to apply the decoupage. You may add your decoupage to any area with a flat surface. You could cover the drawer, the top of the bedside or the front surface — it’s entirely a personal preference. There are countless options for what materials you can use when choosing a design to use for decoupaging. You could choose fabrics, tissue paper, speciality decoupage paper or even gift wrap, and all of these would work perfectly.
- Choose your style. There are two ways to apply decoupage. You can create a collage effect by ripping small sections of the paper and adding them to your unit, or you can measure the surface you wish to decoupage and cut out one large piece to fit its dimensions using scissors and a Stanley knife.
- Apply the decoupage. Add some Mod Podge or watered-down PVA glue to the surface you wish to decoupage.
- Apply the paper. Line the paper up and smooth it evenly over the surface so it sticks. If your paper is thick and has trouble adhering to the surface, place a sheet of parchment paper over the top and use an iron on low heat (with the steam setting off) to set the paper in place. This iron technique also helps remove any creases or air bubbles in the paper.
- Topcoat the decoupaged surface. To finish the decoupage, apply a thin layer of polyacrylic on top. This can be in matt or gloss finish, depending on your preference.
- Attach new handles. If you’re using new handles, mark up where you want your handles to sit, drill the required holes and screw the new handles into place.
And there you have it. A wooden bedside table transformed from old to new.
Choosing an upcycled headboard
In most bedrooms, the headboard is a strong design feature. When we think about headboards and bed frames, we often imagine four categories: traditional wood, luxurious fabric, soft leather or timeless metal. You can paint wood and metal bed frames to freshen them every few years or when you want to change your interior design, which is a simple but effective way of giving an original bedframe a new flare. When it comes to repurposed headboards, however, the selection suddenly becomes far more vast and exciting.
Here are a handful of opportunities that can’t be missed when you’re thinking about opting for an upcycled headboard:
A shutter or window frame headboard
Distressed shutters mounted on the wall behind your bed instantly introduce a shabby chic-cum-Mediterranean look. When painted white (or even blue if you want to channel the Greek islands), sanded down and distressed with a scraper to reveal the wood beneath, shutters and window frames can be a rustic centrepiece in any bedroom.
A mirrored headboard
Placing a large antique French-style mirror with an exquisitely carved frame behind your bed can immediately introduce elegance into a bedroom and works particularly well with high ceilings. If you can’t get your hands on a large mirror, arranging a handful of smaller mirrors on the wall behind your bed is a modern alternative.
A wooden door headboard
Upcycling an old wooden door and turning it on its side to create a headboard is, believe it or not, quite a trend these days. Remove any hardware, prep, prime and paint!
A pegboard headboard
Often found in your garage fixed to the wall for holding tools, the pegboard headboard is a modern favourite when it comes to upcycling. All you need is some screws, mounting tools and pegboard hangers to decorate your headboard. Both quirky and practical, this headboard lets you display anything from plants to picture frames.
How to repurpose unwanted drawers into bedroom storage
Finding storage space for your things is a constant battle. We all need more storage than we already have in our bedrooms, but you could have the resolution to this problem hiding away in your attic or garage. Repurposing unwanted drawers from an old dresser or chest is a simple but effective way to make bedroom storage shelving or a bookcase.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Start by removing the drawers you intend to use for the shelving and prep, prime and paint the drawers, following steps 1 to 6 from the earlier section on repurposing a bedside table.
- Once you’ve got the drawers looking as good as new, it’s time to think about how you want to display them on the wall. You can mount them on the wall individually or screw them together in a cluster for a retro-looking display.
- Place the drawers on top of each other in a cluster, positioning some vertically and others horizontally. Use a drill and screws to connect the drawers in your desired arrangement.
- Use brackets to secure the arrangement of drawer shelving to the wall.
Et voila! You can now place your books, ornaments and belongings on your new wall storage unit.
A few final thoughts on repurposing your bedroom furniture
That’s all we’ve got time for just now, but there are many more options when it comes to repurposing furniture. As long as you’re open to the potential of old furniture, there’s nothing that can stop you. Besides, having a personal DIY project will get the creative juices flowing and gratifying. You won’t look back once you get started on your first project.
Importantly, though, repurposing furniture is more than just a trend. It’s a practical, sustainable way to make the most of your furniture. So next time you’re considering throwing out a piece of furniture, stop and think about how you might be able to reuse it first. It may prove more useful than you’d expect.