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Upcycling Furniture: Ideas to Make Your Interior More Sustainable

Updated: Feb 5

Upcycled green chest of drawers

Every piece of furniture that was once fresh and stunning undergoes wear and tear to become an old, exhausted piece. But throwing it out isn’t the only solution!

With some sandpaper and paint coupled with a love for DIY, you can refinish that furniture item into a stylish and functional piece once again. And this is what we call ‘upcycling’. The best part? Preventing the furniture from ending up in a landfill means reducing your impact on the environment.

To celebrate sustainability, we’ve compiled our favourite ideas for upcycling furniture. Let’s breathe a new life into your old possessions — turning trash into treasure!

Upcycling Furniture: A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Orange and pink display cabinet

Credit: Annie Sloan

Transform old wooden furniture into a statement piece by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Start off with a base coat and let it dry overnight. Proceed by applying another coat to provide full coverage, allowing it to fully dry.

You can use one bold colour for the entire piece, or pick out different shades and create an ombre effect. If you plan to place the furniture in the hallway (or somewhere you wish to create a statement), don’t hesitate to pick bright colours. If you’re looking for inspiration, pink and orange are two shades that go well together!

You can also paint the hardware for an even bigger impact.

DIY restored blue chair with white flowers

If a mere coat of paint is a little too understated for your personality, up the game with stencilling. After applying a good two coats to your piece, use a stencil to paint your favourite pattern.

You can handpick stencils of different shapes you love, assign colours for each, and repeat them across your piece to create a pattern of your choice. Alternatively, you can go for one central pattern for smaller furniture pieces, such as chairs.

Such a piece can easily act as the focal point of your space. If you’re looking to create the centre of attraction in your living room without breaking the bank, look no further!

Second-Hand Furniture

If the furniture you want to spruce up has fabric on it — for example, an old sofa or armchair, a brilliant way to upcycle is to reupholster it. Visit your local fabric store and find a design or pattern that you love. Buy enough fabric to cover the furniture piece(s) that you want to freshen up, or even enough for when you need to reupholster again in the future.

Then, you can either find a local reupholstering service or if you're into DIY, you can follow this guide and do it yourself!

Make The Most of an Old Dressing Table

Old-fashioned dressing table with cups and plates

Credit: Make It Yours

The kitchen is one place where you can always use some extra storage, so why not transform that old dresser into a functional piece to serve the purpose?

Remove the mirror from the dresser before painting it a new colour. You can install shelves or hooks in the newly-emptied space to display a stunning dinnerware set, so the upcycled piece can act as a platform for decor, too!

Use the drawers below to store kitchen essentials — from pots and pans to extra junk drawers, this new piece can hide a lot of your items whilst keeping them within easy reach.

Transform A Chest Into A Planter

Chest of drawer used as planter

Credit: Annie Sloan

This one’s a call for all our plant-loving readers — an old chest of drawers transformed into a gigantic planter! Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, this idea for upcycling furniture will satiate your inner gardener like no other.

Begin by painting the old drawers. If you’re decorating for spring, pink is a lovely way to go. You can also update the hardware by unscrewing it and cleaning it with a damp cloth, going into the nooks and crannies with a toothbrush. Next, choose a finish of your choice (such as a satin or polished finish) and apply it over the hardware. When it dries out, you can screw it back on and it’ll look as good as new!

Once the hardware is done, fill the drawers with soil (just as you would with a pot) and transplant your favourite flowers and plants to them.

You can also top it with a vase to enhance the aesthetics. And remember, faux plants are a good alternative for folks who aren’t really plant-savvy.

Create A Table With Crates

Side table created from a crate

Credit: Home Depot

If you currently don’t have an old piece of furniture to upgrade, you probably could find a crate to make use of. Firstly, use sandpaper to neaten the crate. You can then paint it or leave it as it is for a natural look.

Proceed by mounting the crate onto PVC pipes joined together, which will perfectly act as your upcycled table’s legs. One way to do so is by utilising dowels. And voilà, your own sofa-side table is ready!

Fill it with display-worthy functional items and a decor piece or two for the ultimate aesthetic.

Craft A Shelf With An Old Drawer

Colourfull wall shelf made of a drawer


A broken chest of drawers? It can still come in handy! Pick out one drawer that is still intact, and remove its hardware. Next, neaten its edges and surfaces with sandpaper. Use a tack cloth to remove any residue from sanding.

To have your end product ready, give the rim of the drawer a fresh coat of paint. Drill holes into either end of the drawer and knot a piece of rope on both sides to create a hanging device.

And just like that, your upcycled shelf is ready. Use it to store books, decor pieces, and souvenirs to create an interesting showpiece.

Our Final Thoughts

Your old furniture can be transformed into creative, functional, and sustainable pieces by putting in just a little effort. The ideas in this blog post are just a starting point — let those creative juices flow to make the most of what you have at no cost!

Need some help with sustainable interior design? Book one of our Eco & Sustainability Gurus for a 30-minute video call. Transforming your home into a space you love shouldn't be a daunting task. With HiiGuru you can save time, avoid costly mistakes and bring your goals to life with experts by your side.


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