When a passion for repurposing is focused on furniture, the opportunities are limitless. Discarded street signs and broken skateboards provide vibrant patterns for tables and seats. A vintage radiator is a showpiece as the base on a desk. Empty toilets evoke smiles as a whimsical way to display potted plants.
Whether shopping for upcycled products, embellishing pieces you already own or embarking on a unique DIY design, repurposing is exciting, economical and satisfying. Sometimes it’s also delightfully outrageous. Ideally, it’s kind to the planet.
For repurposing and repurposed furniture ideas, we tapped into the wisdom of innovative artisans, shop owners and DIYers.
The folks who launched SkateOrDesign on Etsy recycle broken skateboards bought from shops and parks. Components are freshened up and pieced together as shelves, benches, desks and other assorted products.
“The skateboard art and colors on parts are matched and selected by our skater-craftsman much like a fine woodworker selects the grain and color of his lumber,” says Jason Podlaski, who established the Pennsylvania-based business with his brother Adam.
Furniture items from SkateOrDesign typically are in the price range of $100 to $2,500.
Upcycled is a nifty gift boutique with such intriguing items as bike tube wallets and skateboard earrings.
Repurposing at the business in Missoula, Montana, extends to the innovative display units. Especially noteworthy is an intentionally freeform tower of assorted dresser drawers, stacked upright with their open spaces facing forward. The display unit, which is securely anchored to the wall for safety, draws plenty of interest, especially for folks who appreciate repurposed furniture ideas. Shoppers snap pictures and ask for instructions on building their own, says store owner Donovan Peterson.
It’s a snap, says Peterson. Stack drawers in a pattern you like. Add screws to lock them together, and anchor the unit securely to the wall at the top. If you want to revise design, simply remove the screws and restack. “We treat these things like building blocks. We move them around,” he says.
Peterson’s knack for repurposing is expressed in assorted projects at the store and his home. For example, bathroom towel rods are golf woods hung horizontally in his house.
For novice repurposers seeking ideas, Donovan suggests picking a specific item and thinking of 20 or so different ways to reuse it. One of those ideas just might be the inspiration you need to kick-start your project.
Assorted Upcycled Furniture Projects
- A decades-old radiator provides a distinctive base for a desk with a sleek glass top. The repurposed piece by Thatch Vintage is priced at $465 on Etsy.
- Richard Scott of Wheeling, West Virginia, repurposes thick slabs retrieved from old bowling lanes being demolished as extra-durable surfaces for dining tables, entertainment units and kitchen islands. He sells some pieces on his American Reclamation shop on Etsy. “I like the look of it,” he says. “People seem to like the nostalgia of it.”
- Another Etsy shop, Rusted Pulchritude from Ellsworth, Maine, uses scrap wood, reclaimed wood and weathered wood for floating wall shelves and other furniture items. Among the items is a shelf made of “beautifully weathered speckled beech … from a blueberry field,” according to the product description. “This piece is an offcut slab from a sawmill that cuts locally sourced wood. Some of the saw marks from the sawmill are still visible on the surface of the shelf.”
- Juro Vyboh of Bratislava, Slovakia, is an artisan with a variety of repurposed furniture ideas. He incorporates steel, wood and pieces from old furniture for his upcycled designs sold in the Etsy shop Repasopa.
- Streets signs provide bright fun for tables and other furniture sold on Hipcycle.com. “Aluminum traffic signs used to make the Broadway Armchair are acquired from a variety of scrap dealers and Departments of Public Works that need to discard their bent, damaged and obsolete signs,” the website states. Prices include $2,300 for an armchair and $850 for and 18-inch-by-18-inch table.
Display It Outside
Sara Getzkin, a professional organizer with Hands On Organizing Services in Los Angeles, likes the idea of repurposing parts of old furniture and other items in the garden. The frames of dining chairs, especially bentwood chairs, often work nicely as a trellis for vines and flowers. Tying two or more chairs back to back might make a nice focal point in a garden, Getzkin says.
Another opportunity for a trellis, she says, is a head rail or foot rail from a brass or wrought iron bed frame.
For a quirky outdoor planter, add greenery to the tank and the bowl of an empty old toilet, Getzkin suggests. It’s definitely something that nabs attention, she says.
For instructions on repurposing a chair and other items in the garden, the website Upcycle That offers an assortment of tutorials.
Repurposing furniture by reassigning it for a fresh use is a budget-friendly and valuable tool for organizing, Getzkin says. Before dumping unwanted bookcases or cabinets, decide if they’re useful in another room. “As an organizer, I am always looking for more storage,” she says. “You never know when that old bookcase can organize things in the garage or laundry room.”
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock