8 Ways to Turn Old Furniture Into New and Exciting Pieces

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated November 2, 2021
A boho entrance with a retro mirror
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You'll be surprised at how easy it is to give your furniture an update

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Saying goodbye to your favorite furniture is never easy. Whether it’s a family heirloom or your first big home purchase, these objects contain so much history that it’s difficult to let them go. Fortunately, they can stay in your life permanently with the help of a little something called furniture repurposing

From old dressers to retro mirrors, you can repurpose any precious furniture items into something totally new. A worn-out bookcase can become your next shoe rack in a matter of hours. And a defunct door can become a rustic farm table you’ve always dreamed of having in your dining room. With a bit of imagination, and a few tips to get you started, you’ll be amazed at how little work it takes to refresh your furniture.

1. Make an Old Dresser Into Your Next Kitchen Island

Dressers have plenty of large surfaces and compartments for storage, making them especially well-suited to a kitchen island transformation. In most cases, you can simply move the dresser into the kitchen and use it as is! Whether you choose to keep the dresser’s look the same or transform it, there are so many ways to get creative with a project like this. Try adding a fresh coat of paint or removing some of the drawers to create open-air shelving.

2. Transform an Old Door Into a Rustic Table or Headboard

You can repurpose defunct doors in countless ways. If you’ve found a gorgeous antique door at the flea market and want to preserve its natural beauty, showcase it by turning it into a dining table or even hanging it for decor. Alternatively, sand it, paint it, and turn it into a headboard, coat rack, desk, or, if you have a bunch of unused doors, all of the above!

3. Turn a Bookcase Sideways for an Instant Shoe Rack

This trick works best when using bookcases with square shelving. This way, each separate square is a perfectly sized compartment for individual pairs of shoes. If you’re dealing with traditional, horizontal shelving, you might have to put in a little handiwork to make the transformation functional. Take measurements and pick up a few correctly sized wood planks to make separate compartments and create a better system for keeping your shoes organized.

4. Make a Ladder Into a Chic Towel Rack

 An old ladder used as a towel rack in a bathroom
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Wood and metal ladders make excellent towel racks when you no longer have any functional use for them. In most cases, they’re surprisingly stylish enough with any extra work—maybe just a quick cleaning will do. Think of how nice a raw wood ladder would look alongside the plush, cream mat in your bathroom, or how a copper ladder can mix metal into a space that needs it. You can also choose a new finish and give the piece a makeover before it finds its new home in your bathroom.

5. Move Your Kitchen Cabinets to the Living Room

Clunky wooden cabinets are a sure sign of an outdated kitchen, but a little creativity and elbow grease can turn them into a sleek, modern TV stand with storage in no time. Unlike some of these other projects, you can’t simply line up your cabinets beneath your TV and call it a day. A bit of woodworking will definitely be required to tie all the cabinets together seamlessly, and this will vary by your cabinets, but it’s nothing you can’t do over a weekend with a little research.

6. Cut an Old Mirror Into One (or Multiple) Brand-New Shapes

Pieces of a broken mirror used as decorative elements
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Tired of the same-old circular or rectangular mirror model? Consider cutting yours up into fun shapes. This is something you can do on your own with a glass cutter and a few precautions like gloves and safety glasses, but you can also hire a mirror craftsperson in your area if you’d rather not take any risks. Turn a large, rectangular standing mirror into several smaller decorative ones. They won’t be as functional, but they’ll make your old mirror stand out in a new way.

7. Reuse Fabric from Old Couches for Sewing Projects

Don’t have the stomach to get rid of an old couch because you love the pattern? Luckily, you don’t have to trash it—you can reupholster even the most worn-out piece of furniture. You can also remove the fabric and use it to make everything from throw pillowcases to adorable coasters. If you’ve had the piece for a long time, it might be worth it to use laundry stripping to rid the fabric of years of dirt build-up beforehand.

8. Turn Your Old Windows Into Art With a Bit of Paint

Windows are often aesthetically pleasing in their own right, and it’s always a pity when they’re no longer functional. Luckily, windows are easy to repurpose into something totally new, whether that’s a frame for your newly cut mirror or the surface for a DIY coffee table. Buy some glass-friendly paint and use your old window as a canvas, and you’ll have a new art piece in no time.

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