Uncover Your Junk's Hidden Decorating Possible — Scads of DIY Suggestions

There’s so much to be said for using old stuff instead of heading to the shop each time the disposition to decorate strikes. To begin with, it is environmentally friendly and much easier on the pocketbook. But do-gooding aside, houses that incorporate odd or old items into their decoration are more traditional and have tons more character. I mean, sure you’ll get adorable matching nightstands in the local big-box shop. But you could also tap into that DIY gene and make something wholly original out of things you may already have.

Generally speaking, salvaged and reinvented things look best mixed in with fresh stuff. After all, we are going for character and originality, not junkyard stylish.

Have fun. And show us the smart ways you have transformed old things by posting a photograph and description in the Comments.

Old window frames, doors and gates function as decoration just the way that they are. Lean or hang against a wall for instant Shabby Chic, French country style.

Suggestion: Beware of lead in pre-1970s things with peeling paint. Seal such things with a couple of coats of spray-on matte polyurethane to prevent flaking and chipping.

Adrienne DeRosa

This gorgeous old bare-wood door adds the perfect feel to this contemporary state room.


They simply don’t create suitcases like that they used to. They may be lighter and easier today, but they are not as good looking. In case you have a couple old clunkers lying around, consider stacking them for a side table.

Hint: Spray paint them first if they’re nasty, mismatched or dirty. You can twist them together to prevent toppling with a couple tiny bolts and wing nuts.

Tommy Chambers Interiors, Inc..

I love the industrial look of the tool-drawer-turned-nightstand. It seems great mixed with all the floral pattern and lamp.

Hint: If something is too low for your needs, consider attaching big casters to the floor. They’ll make it mobile, prop it up and add a nice industrial look.

Monica Ewing

The real key to turning old material to new, useful stuff is frequently clever disguises. These old crates plus paint and a few adorable paper financing equals pretty, one-of-kind shelving for approximately $25.

These old crates don’t even need to be disguised, just hung well in an otherwise mild and uncluttered space.


Old, beat-up wooden ladders are a favorite decorating thing nowadays which they are sometimes hard to discover. But should you have one taking up space in the garage, then consider putting it to good use for a plant stand. It’s hard getting height in the garden. This does the trick.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Or use it like a leaning towel rack.

Or just as a laundry or pot hanger.

It’s a Wannabe Decorator’s Life

Or as a hanging shelf.

Cynthia Mason Interiors

This old dresser got a coat of paint (it seems like it may have been professionally sprayed to get that lacquer look) and became the perfect vanity. If you go this path, be aware you will shed a lot of drawer space for plumbing.

Lucid Interior Design Inc..

An old teacher’s desk also produces a lovely vanity. And here the drawer space can be stored, since the plumbing can match in the middle.

Joanne Palmisano, Salvage Keys

12 More Clever Uses for Old Items

Empty wine bottles turned into a distinctive and glowing chandelier.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

An old snowshoe is an ideal framework for a powder room mirror.


Repurposed Ecofriendly Chalkboard, TurquoisePint Salvage

An old window frame becomes a chalkboard, complete with a built-in chalk holder.

Heather Merenda

A milking jug (does anybody still use those for milking?) Makes a great umbrella stand.

Watering troughs as planters.

A classic typewriter is put to good use as a planter for succulents.

Zack Benson Photography

Ugly cinderblocks are changed to a geometrical, contemporary planter.

Cozy Little House

A spray dish drainer is reborn as a desktop organizer.

Colleen Brett

Why not? These tins are adorable planters, particularly in a kitchen.

Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab

Those drums you use? Insert a glass top to a, and you’ve got a coffee table and a conversation piece.

Kara Mosher

A wooden packing crate got a coat of paint and a set of casters to develop into a contemporary coffee table with plenty of storage.


It’s amazing what a coat of spray paint can perform for a horrible metal filing cabinet.

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