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Repurposing Items

Whether you are downsizing, redecorating on a budget or just looking to give your space a fresh look, repurposing items you already own can be one of the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective ways to achieve your goal.


Reusing items you already own is also environmentally friendly.

Although most items can be repurposed just as they are, you can significantly expand your options by being open to making small adjustments to things you are reusing. For example, giving something a fresh coat of paint, adding or changing hardware (e.g. handles or drawer pulls) or tacking on a pair of pre-made “legs” or “feet” can transform an object into something entirely new and wonderful.

Fun with Furniture

Furniture plays an essential role in any space. Not only does it anchor a room visually, it also strongly determines how well a space supports its intended purpose. For instance, dining rooms need tables and offices need desks if they are to be functional, effective spaces. Furniture is also one of the most expensive categories of home décor. Together, these factors make furnishings an ideal category to explore when you are contemplating repurposing items within your home.


There are two ways to go about furniture-related repurposing. The first is to use a piece of furniture in a non-traditional way or place. The second is to reinvent a non-furniture item in a way that lets it serve as, or take the place of, a piece of furniture. Both of these options invite individuals and families to be creative and to experiment with their spaces and items.

To repurpose existing furniture, consider trying one of the following common approaches:

  • Redeploy a potting table (or bench) from the garden to serve as a kitchen hutch, bedroom bookshelf or bathroom storage.
  • Use a colorful wooden chair as a nightstand.
  • Remove the drawers from a dresser and use it as a printer stand in a home office or as a compact bar or buffet in a dining room.
  • Add a fluffy cushion to the top of a small, sturdy table to transform it into a footstool or bench.

Alternatively, if you are lacking furniture, then consider the following examples of how you might repurpose non-furniture items to meet your needs.

  • Lay on old closet or interior door across two filing cabinets or low bookshelves to make a table, kitchen island or desk.
  • Add legs or feet to a storage chest or a large, hard-sided luggage and use it as a table, bench or chair.
  • Adapt an old ladder for use as a bookshelf by putting boards across the rungs or by mounting it (vertically or horizontally) on a wall.

If you do not have items available for repurposing, then discover ways to find inexpensive furniture and decorations here.

Organization and Display

Smaller household items often lend themselves extremely well to repurposed home organization or décor projects. With a little imagination, items from almost any room in your home can be relocated somewhere entirely different to help corral problematic papers, utensils or other odds and ends. Many items can also be repurposed into eye-catching displays for favorite collections. The following are a few popular examples:


  • Vases, jars and buckets. Flower vases, wine buckets and jars of all kinds can be redeployed in dozens of ways. From showcasing marble or coin collections to organizing craft supplies to keeping cooking utensils right at hand on the counter, they can bring neat and decorative touches to any space.
  • Magnetic knife holder. Magnetic strips designed to hold kitchen knives can be used to secure scissors and other crafting tools or in kids’ rooms to hold diecast cars and other small, metal toys.
  • Kitchen dividers. Flat, tray-style drawer dividers, dish drainers and picnic caddies are not just for the kitchen anymore. Strategically reassigned to the bathroom, office or children’s playroom they can organize cosmetics, jewelry or toiletries. They can keep mail sorted or get craft supplies off the floor while ensuring they stay close at hand.
  • Wine and spice racks. Wine racks and spice racks come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and styles and can be among the most versatile repurposed pieces in your home. Tuck yarn for knitting or packaging supplies in a wine rack for orderly storage. Use a spice rack to display souvenir shot glasses, shells or other collectibles from beloved vacation spots. A little thinking outside the box will turn up plenty of other decorative and practical alternative uses for old or extra racks you have lying around, as well.
  • Over-the-door hanging shoe organizer. Over-the-door pocket organizers may be intended for shoes, but their potential applications are endless. Cords, accessories, toiletries, toys and more can be tucked neatly in organizer pockets for safe, out-of-the-way storage and no-hassle retrieval. For extra convenience, use a shoe organizer that is transparent so you can always see what you have stored in each compartment. Learn more about storage solutions here.
  • Tiered fruit baskets. Hanging, tiered fruit baskets make excellent planters, toiletry organizers or decorative storage for stuffed animals and other small toys.

Outdoor Repurposing

Repurposing is not just for indoors. Garages, yards, patios, balconies, decks and other outdoor spaces abound with opportunities for creative and useful repurposing. For example, if you are looking to add some color to your space, almost anything can become a planter. From tires full of dirt in which to grow tomatoes to tiny tea tins of herbs on your windowsill, options exist in every size and for every climate.

Chests, dressers, old luggage and wooden crates can be easily transformed into unique outdoor ice chests for barbeques and pool parties. Old bottles, canning jars, chandeliers, tin cans and bird cages can become charming outdoor lighting with the addition of a little wiring, votive candles or small, solar-powered light units.

Tips for Getting Started

If you like the idea of repurposing but are struggling to decide where to start, then here are a few tips to help you find your way.

  • Start small. Get your feet wet with simple projects. Shop your house for a pretty container you can use to hold something that you want to keep within reach like pencils, silverware or toys. Plant your favorite herb in a colorful tin that used to hold tea or cookies.
  • Showcase pieces you love. Select an item with sentimental value and look around your home for a place where it can be appropriately showcased and truly shine. Do you have a seashell you picked up on your last vacation that reminds you of sunshine and good times? Consider putting it on a counter or your vanity to hold jewelry. Is there a mug or dish that fits your taste and style perfectly? Think about moving it to the table or shelf by your front door to hold your keys, so you can see and enjoy it every day. These repurposed items can help you de-clutter your place.
  • Look for gaps in what you own. Review the list of products you have been considering purchasing or ask yourself what little inconveniences drag down your daily routine. For example, if you have been thinking you really need more bookshelves to store your expanding collection of novels, exercise your repurposing muscles by scouring your home for things you already own that you can revamp, reuse or transform into a bookshelf instead of buying one.

Keep in mind that repurposing is more art than science. There are no right or wrong ways to do it, and the more you repurpose the easier and more comfortable it will become.


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