15 Brilliant Repurposing Ideas for Old Junk

Don't toss it out! Give your own stuff a whole new use with these repurposing projects.

Published March 15, 2024
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Don't settle for tossing out or donating old stuff that isn't useful anymore. It's way more fun to give it a new life as something else. We have tons of great repurposing ideas for old junk. From that crib your kid outgrew a while ago to the dresser you don't love the look of, it's all about thinking creatively and adding a few DIY touches.

Repurpose a China Cabinet for Display

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Not into showing off your grandma's Noritake or that set of crystal wine glasses? No problem. China cabinets are some of the most useful furniture out there. You can repurpose them as bookcases, bathroom linen storage, clothing armoires, or even toy displays.

Give the china cabinet a new coat of paint and maybe some new hardware if you're not loving its current look. We're also all about using wallpaper in the back to bring in a pop of color and pattern.

Related: Antique China Cabinet Styles & Values

Create a DIY Upcycled Picture Frame Tray

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There are tons of great things to do with old picture frames, but one of our favorites is turning them into serving trays. Basically, you just make sure they have a rigid back (like a thin piece of wood). Then, you add handles for carrying them. These even make awesome gifts.

Related: Nourish Your Nostalgia With Vintage TV Trays

Make a Tree Stump End Table

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If you have a piece of a log or an old stump from your yard, it's actually really easy to turn it into a gorgeous end table.

  1. Make sure the ends are cut flat so it rests on the floor evenly (or add leveling feet).
  2. Let the stump sit outside long enough that the bark comes off easily, and then give it a good cleaning with a weak bleach water solution.
  3. Add a finish if you want one, especially if you'll be using the end table to hold drinks.

Make a New Pillow From an Old Sweater

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If you have an old sweater that has a stain or hole or just doesn't fit anymore, it can have a whole new life as a cozy pillow. This is an easy sewing project, so don't stress if you're not a pro with the sewing machine. Here's how to do it.

  1. Buy a pillow form.
  2. Turn the sweater inside out and cut it one inch larger than the dimensions of the form.
  3. Placing the right sides together, sew around three sides of the sweater fabric. Sew half an inch from the edge.
  4. Turn the sweater pillow right-side out and stuff the pillow form into it. Sew up the last side with a needle and thread.
Quick Tip

Sweaters tend to unravel, so it's a good plan to sew around the sweater pillow twice. Space the rows of stitching about a quarter of an inch apart. You can also paint on a product that will help keep it from unraveling, such as Fray Check.

Repurpose a Crib Into a Dog Bed


An old crib is one of those things that can really outlive its original purpose and still be great for something else. One of our favorite crib repurposing projects is making the crib into a dog bed. All you have to do is remove the front side of the crib and add a dog bed. Keep the mattress on the lowest setting so it's easy for your dog to get in and out.

Make an End Table With a Repurposed File Cabinet


File cabinets used to be really useful before most files were stored on computers. Now there are tons of cheap filing cabinets around, and it's time to find them new purposes. One option we love is turning an old filing cabinet into an end table. All you have to do is make your very own "Frankenstein" furniture piece — just buy or repurpose a low end table and a small tabletop filing cabinet. Use a drill and screw the two pieces together to make a custom end table.

Related: 6 Fun & Funky Ways to Upcycle a Filing Cabinet

Repurpose Cabinet Doors as Signs

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If you're remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, there's no reason to toss out the old cabinet doors. They're actually perfect as signs, and they make sweet housewarming gifts, too.

  1. Just paint the cabinet door any color you like to start out. Let it dry.
  2. Then use letter stencils to paint on a message. If you're not sure what to say, "Welcome" is always a good option.
  3. Let the letters dry and add a top coat if you'll be hanging the door outside.

Related: 15 Ingenious Ways to Repurpose an Old Door

Turn an Old Dresser Into a Bathroom Vanity


Give your bathroom a sense of history and style by repurposing an old dresser. Give it a coat of paint and add a vanity top from the big box store. You'll want to work with a plumber to have it installed.

Quick Tip

You can also repurpose dresser mirrors in the bathroom to give any vanity a furniture-style look. It's an easy way to make your powder room prettier.

Update Your Room With a Coffee Table Repurposed From a Pallet


Some of the best repurposing ideas out there involve old wooden pallets. They're super useful for all kinds of projects, but one of the coolest is turning a pallet into a coffee table. All you have to do is add hairpin legs or wheeled casters and then sand and finish the pallet to your taste.

Transform a Changing Table Into a Home Bar (With a Wine Rack)


Changing tables are one of those things. When you're done using them, you're just done using them. When you're ready to say goodbye to changing diapers (oh, happy day), turn that changing table into something else. Our fave idea is rocking a changing table repurposed as a wine rack or bar. There's just a poetic beauty to storing your pinot noir when you used to keep the Pampers.

All you have to do is add a metal hanging wine rack to the bottom of the changing table. Stock it with your favorite wines, and you're all set to celebrate the end of changing diapers.

Related: 8 Diaper-Free Ideas for Repurposing Changing Tables

Turn an Old Dresser Drawer Into a Book Display


Decorating with old books is basically the easiest way to give any room a lived-in look that's super homey. Still, they're not always easy to display. That's where an old dresser drawer can come in. You can repurpose it as a way to show off your favorite titles (think of the sides of the drawer like bookends). Set the drawer on any surface — from your nightstand to your kid's dresser.

Related: 6 Creative Upcycled Drawer Ideas for Vintage Charm

Use Old Shutters to Make a Mirror Into a Window


Another item that's super easy to repurpose is old window shutters. You can give a mirror more visual impact in any room by flanking it with a pair of old shutters. You just have to hang the shutters on either side of the mirror. You'll want them to be the same height or possibly a little bit longer.

Quick Tip

If you're looking for the perfect style of mirror fo this project, go with one that looks as much like a window as possible. If it has divided panes or a rustic window frame around the mirror, it's going to look amazing with the shutters.

Repurpose Piano Keys to Store Regular Keys

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If you have an old piano that played its last note years ago, you can still use the keys. Just glue them together and add a wood backer and some nails for hanging your car and house keys. This is a one-of-a-kind display that looks amazing by your door.

Make an Assemblage Necklace From a Repurposed Wedding Ring

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If you have a family wedding ring or your ring doesn't fit you anymore, you can wear these pieces a different way. Turn a wedding ring into a necklace by stringing a chain on either side of it. You can hang other items from the ring too, such as mementos or pretty pieces of jewelry. You can even switch things out for a changing display.

Create a Console Table From an Old Radio Cabinet


Repurposing an old radio cabinet is an awesome way to give your home a funky and fun look. These cabinets were quality furniture, and they actually offer a lot of opportunities for upcycling.

One of the coolest and most useful ways to show off an old radio cabinet is by turning it into a console table. Just replace the speakers with fabric panels, add a new top, and put it in your entryway to welcome people in style.

Try Out Lots of Repurposing Ideas


From your cast-off clothes to your old furniture, there are tons of repurposing ideas to try. Don't settle for just one upcycling project. You can decorate your home (and accessorize your look) with all kinds of creative DIY jobs.

Related: Fun Fleamarket Finds to Upcycle, Use, or Flip

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15 Brilliant Repurposing Ideas for Old Junk