Whether you are thinking about furnishing your entire home or simple want to add a few new furniture pieces, consider upcycling, renewing, reusing and recycling before hitting your local IKEA. Second hand furniture can be extremely economical if you are decorating on a budget, while allowing you to be environmentally conscious at the same time, too!
Ways To Repurpose Second Hand Furniture
Do Your Research
When looking for reclaimed wood furniture or other used items, you'll first want to look online in some of the more obvious places: Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Kajiji (Canada), Freecycle and Ebay, just to name a few. There’s also Poshmark, Gumtree and Shpock (both UK) which are all dedicated to folks buying and selling preloved items.
Other sources for second hand items include thrift stores, flea markets, swap meets and tag sales. The fun part about shopping this way is "haggling": that is, bargaining for a better price that suits both you and the seller. Don't be shy about haggling either: sellers at flea markets, swap meets and tag sales expect it!
Auction houses are also a great option if you are looking to purchase high-end items and other pricier furniture pieces, such as antiques. At an auction house you will often find a combination of expert and novice bidders so it can be an eclectic mix, which makes bidding at auctions fun and exciting.
Consider The Space
Before you start purchasing upcycled furniture for your home, you need to think about how much space you'll need for your new pieces. Just like purchasing brand new furniture, you'll have to consider what type of furniture you want, and measure the area(s) so you know what fits. This informative article from Darby Road Home shows exactly how to measure space for new furniture. Our advice? Keep these measurements in a handy home journal to avoid having to measure and re-measure every time you want to purchase something new!
Re-arrange The Room(s)
In addition to measuring your space, consider rearranging the furniture you already have in the room to see if you can free up any additional square footage or lineal space. Once you are happy with the arrangement (or a few different arrangements), take pictures. You can take these photos, along with your measurements, when you go shopping for furniture pieces to help with your selections.
Need some help with your planning? Here's 10 of the best free online virtual room programs and tools that can help you with your room planning and furniture placement.
Give Them A Scrub & Make Minor Repairs
Many times when we purchase an item that is pre-owned it can be worn and in need of repairs. Sometimes, it just needs a good cleaning, perhaps even sanding and a fresh coat of paint or stain. Use a cleaning product that is appropriate for the furniture's finish, and follow the label's directions for use.
For scratches and dings, try a furniture marker. Simply draw over the scratch and allow it to dry. For small holes, nail holes and cracks, use wood putty. If wood is rotted, use a rotted wood restorer. As you can see when it comes to furniture damage, there's a solution for every problem!
Older upholstered furniture like chairs and sofa tend to show their age through thin or worn fabric. If you're handy, this can be an easy DIY fix, especially if it's a simple seat cushion. You can also use slipcovers to cover the entire piece if the structure is in good shape but the fabric is dated and ugly. And don't discount a sagging sofa or chair, either: there are support solutions you can try to help beef things up.
Give It A Fresh Coat Of Paint
If nothing else, sometimes an old piece of furniture can be brought back to life with the simple addition of a fresh coat of paint. For example, you can give an outdated wood table a new lease on life by cleaning, sanding and refinishing with wood stain. Alternatively, you can paint it a creamy white and distress it, for that Shabby Chic look. You can even try a bold color to really give it some personality.
Get Sticky With It
Looking to revamp an old bookshelf or cabinet? Line the inside with peel and stick wallpaper. There's also peel and stick tile, which looks super chic when you add illumination using battery operated puck lights. You can even add new glass knobs or stylish metal pulls for a more modern look.
In the past, I got crafty and decoupages an old steamer trunk using vintage ephemera. It was a great conversation piece that pulled double duty as storage and as a tabletop. You don't have to decoupage with ephemera; you can also use scrapbook paper, magazine pages or even sheet music. You're only limited by your imagination!
Turn Things Into Furniture
Creating useful items out of upcycled materials is a great option if you are handy and love to craft. There are even some easy DIYs that don't require any special skills at all! Here's a few ideas to consider:
thebudgetdecorator.com curated about a dozen before and after flea market flips, showing you different ways to upcycle and repurpose old pieces and turn them into something else. We adore the night stands!
These are just a few ways we think you can breathe life into old furniture that may otherwise be in great shape. For more inspo, check out this infographic on creative ways to repurpose furniture: