Getting into a good repurposing project is rewarding and fun. There is a sense of achievement from having created something cool, and there is a sense of social responsibility for having used something destined for the landfill. Then, there is the end result of the repurposing project to enjoy.

Undoubtedly, lots of stuff from the recycling bin—tin cans, plastic bottles, glass jars, newspapers, clothing—can make for great upcycling projects, taking items that are basically garbage and making something useful from them. These types of projects are a thing all their own and worth investigating.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to start with items that aren’t necessarily garbage. Rather, they just need a bit of sprucing up or some imagination. They can often be found on the cheap (sometimes for free) at thrift stores or via online outlets like eBay, Marketplace, Freecycle, Craigslist, and on and on it goes.


Chairs make for a wonderful world of exploration. They come in so many shapes and styles that can make for beautiful and interesting stuff, like benches. A single chair can be used to display prized possessions, it can become a birdbath or plant pot holder. Even broken chairs often have interesting parts—backs, legs, seats—that can be used to make fun stuff.


When you start with something as large as a table, opportunities to make an exciting creation abound. Tables can be cut in half to create cool countertops or wall-mounted desks. Old dining tables can easily become chic coffee tables, or retired coffee tables can be turned into comfy benches. They also transform into amazing potting tables for the greenhouse or garden shed.

Box springs

Mattress can be a little bit challenging when they’ve lost their utility, though they can be recycled, reused and repurposed. Collecting up old box springs can make for some delightful projects, such as funky chandeliers and living walls. Or, the individual springs can become rustic wine racks, flowers vases, and candle holders.


Windows aren’t made like used to be, and for once, that’s a good thing. Windows these days are much better for keeping our houses warmer and safer. In other words, there are lots of old windows to be found in places like Habitat for Humanity Restores. Old frame windows are wonderful to work with, either using them as picture frames or building a greenhouse or any number of projects.


Like old windows, old doors are no longer up to building codes, so they aren’t really used as doors anymore, at least not on house. That said, they can be repurposed as doors for sheds or greenhouses and similar such things. They also work for stylish tabletops, hinged together as room dividers, kitchen islands, and much more. They are easy to find salvage stores that collect old construction material.


It seems like just about every thrift store, flea market, or similar shopping venue has a section dedicated to an endless flow of baskets. Baskets are one of those items people seem to buy, forget to use, and give away/donate, only to buy another and another. Well, baskets can be more than just baskets. They can be transformed (hyperlink is waiting for publication) into planters, fridge organizers, pet beds, shelving….


As with baskets, the secondhand cushion and pillow shelf is nearly ubiquitous in thrift stores and charity shops, and people seem to buy them new, redecorate, and ditch the old stuff. Cushions can easily be recovered to match a color scheme. They can become dog beds, chair bottoms, or meditation seats and here we go again.


Whether it’s from the doldrums of the attic, library sales, secondhand bookstores, or thrift shops, some books become a bit antiquated. They might become less interesting to read than they are as repurposing projects. The pages can become cool envelopes or paper logs for the fireplace. There are hidden storage spaces, end tables, knife blocks…all sorts of stuff to make with old books.

A trip to thrift store becomes a completely different exercise when repurposing becomes part of the game plan. The brain kicks in with the creativity, and the potential of what can be found for cheap equates to a great time and some pretty cool stuff.

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