How to make old furniture new again

A guide to help you repurpose used chairs, ladders and tables while adding a contemporary twist



Interior design is a dynamic field. The changing trends every year bring with them several opportunities that merge style with sustainability, especially when it comes to repurposing old furniture. This approach is not just a nod to eco-friendliness but also a creative outlet for homeowners. 

By giving a second life to furniture, we open a world of possibilities that challenge the traditional approach and celebrate uniqueness.

One of the joys of repurposing old furniture is the opportunity it presents to inject your personal style into your home décor.

Here are some steps that will help you make old furniture cool again:

Choose a theme: Whether it’s vintage, modern or eclectic, pick a theme that resonates with your personal aesthetic.

Play with colours: Don’t shy away from using bold colours or unique paint techniques to breathe new life into a piece.

Add textures: Use fabrics, upholstery, or different wood finishes to add depth and interest.

Accessorise: Sometimes, it’s the small details like new knobs, handles, or decorative elements that make a big difference.

Your repurposed furniture should reflect your personality and blend seamlessly with the overall design of your home. For, by choosing to repurpose, homeowners are making a statement: that beauty and functionality can coexist with environmental responsibility. Thus, repurposing old furniture isn’t just a sustainable choice; it’s a canvas for creativity. Some trendy ideas to transform ordinary pieces into extraordinary treasures:

Old dresser to kitchen island 

An aged dresser can find new life as a kitchen island. Add a butcher block top and fresh paint, and you have a functional, stylish centrepiece.

Bookshelf room divider

A large, sturdy bookshelf can serve as a chic room divider, offering storage and style in open-plan living spaces.

Vintage suitcase vanity

Convert a vintage suitcase into a charming vanity or decorative storage table. It’s a quirky addition that’s bound to be a conversation starter.

Ladder towel rack

An old wooden ladder can be repurposed as a rustic towel rack in the bathroom, adding both character and functionality to the space.

When selecting pieces to repurpose, look for quality construction and materials. Even the most worn-out item can be transformed with a bit of creativity and effort.

DIY vs professional assistance

Finally, embarking on a furniture repurposing project can be a delightful DIY adventure. Still, it’s essential to know when you can handle it yourself and when it’s wise to seek professional help. For simple projects like painting or minor repairs, DIY can be a fulfilling experience. There are numerous online tutorials and workshops that can guide you through these processes.

However, for more complex tasks like structural changes or intricate upholstery, consulting a professional is advisable. They can ensure the integrity of your piece is maintained while bringing your vision to life. Remember, the goal is to enhance and repurpose, not to compromise the furniture’s functionality or safety.

Jenis Makwana is design and innovation lab head, Bonito Designs.

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