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The Best Upcycling Furniture Projects

The Best Upcycling Furniture Projects
Written by Lily Rogers

Rethinking what you own has been all the rage the last few years. For many, that means something very different than throwing out their things or replacing their possessions with shiny new stuff.

We want to reinvigorate our relationship with the things we believe are Made to Keep, even if they may need a spruce up or a new purpose. That's why we scoured YouTube for the best upcycling furniture videos—to get the most helpful tips for how to give new life to the things we love.

Arranged into themes and categories, these videos span different furniture types and refurbishing methods, but all bring new perspective to old items. We hope you get inspired!

Upcycled furniture ideas for your pets

 

In How to Make a DIY Dog Bed from an Old Table, YouTuber ClutterBug makes a comfy four-poster bed for her dog by flipping an old sewing table. Paint, cushions, and a few extra details bring this project to another level of cute.


  • Tutorial begins: 0:35
  • End result: 3:23; project ends at 4:30

Supplies:
Sewing table or end table
Wooden legs
Round wood drawer pulls
Wood glue
Chalk paint
Fabric
Old pillows
Old blanket
Stencil

Tools:
Screwdriver
Drill
Pull saw
Hand sewing machine


How to Create a Litter Box Cabinet – Pet DIY, by the channel Fix This, solves an age-old problem plaguing cat lovers: what to do about unsightly litter. Replicating popular (and expensive) litter box cabinets, this DIY helps save money by repurposing furniture.


  • Tutorial begins: 0:43
  • End result: 3:40

Supplies:
Measuring tape
Sharpie
Polyurethane stain
Bristle brush
Wood trim and corner rosettes
Wood glue
Fabric
Tacks

Tools:
Screwdriver
Drill
Jigsaw
Hammer


Elizabeth Huerta takes you through the steps for turning an old closet organizer into an indoor rabbit habitat in DIY Rabbit Hutch. The end result is a multi-room and level bunny oasis that fits even small spaces. For more small space ideas, check out our Small Space Furniture Hacks.


  • Tutorial begins: 0:50
  • End result: 6:01

Supplies:
6-cube closet organizer
Sharpie
Non-stick shelf liner
Woven mat
Wire mesh
Finishing nails
Molding
5 magnetic door locks
Rectangle of wood
1/8 inch particle board

Tools:
Drill
Jigsaw
Staple gun


Repurposing furniture for your kids

What are the benefits of upcycling? How about bringing joy to children? In this tutorial, MuralsbyMarcy upcycles an old nightstand into a fun play kitchen for kids.


  • Tutorial begins: 1:53
  • End result: 6:15

Supplies:
Nightstand
Metal bowl with lip
Sink faucet
Stove knobs
Drawer handle
Small panel of hooks
Sharpie
Butcher paper
Measuring tape
Small can of satin paint
Tubes of black and grey paint
Small paint roller or paintbrush
Old pillowcase
Small curtain rod
2 elbow brackets; screws
1 magnetic door lock
Gorilla Glue

Tools:
Jigsaw
Drill
Sander
Sewing machine


Dollhouses are a cherished childhood possession, but they can get expensive, as well as unimaginative. Get creative with a bookshelf that you already have, plus a few craft supplies, to make a personalized dollhouse for your little one. Use this as a starting off point, and get as wild and unique as you want with the décor!


• Tutorial begins: 0:05
• End result: 1:20

Supplies:
Bookshelf
Decorative paper
Mini window frames
Ruler
Foam core
Spray adhesive
Glue
Dollhouse furniture

Tools:
X-Acto knife
Staple gun


Repurposing furniture with paint

Upcycling furniture for beginners is as easy as using paint to spruce up bland pieces. As April Bee shows us, any DIYer can use a mixture of paint and staining to look like a pro and make your furniture look très chic.


• Tutorial begins: 0:20
• End result: 6:32

Supplies:
Dresser
CitriStrip
Lacquer thinner
Sander de-glosser
A few big paintbrushes
Microfiber towels
Painters tape
Primer
Optional: pre-stain
Wood stain
High gloss paint
Drawer pulls
Polycrylic and polyurethane

Tools:
Screwdriver
Putty knife
Sander; 120 grit sanding paper
220 grit sanding block
Optional: paint spray gun


This upcycled furniture DIY uses arguably the best paint for upcycling furniture: chalk paint. This stuff goes on clean and easy, usually without primer or sanding. It's remarkable how far a little paint can go to transform drab to dazzling.


• Tutorial begins: 1:54
• End result: 10:56

Supplies:
Side table
Rubber gloves
Mineral Spirits stripper
Sponge
220 grit sanding block
Gel stain
Water-based top coat
Foam brush
Chalk paint
Dish soap
Painters tape
Jar
Spray bottle
Paintbrush
Super fine steel wool
Optional: drawer pull

Tools:
Electric or manual screwdriver


Upcycling particle board furniture

Particle board bookcases are the perfect candidates for repurposing furniture projects. They're cheap, almost everyone has had one in their lifetime, and they serve as a blank canvas that's easily transformed. Checking In With Chelsea's video gives a boring bookcase new legs (literally).


  • Tutorial begins: 1:18
  • End result: 9:18

Supplies:
Particle board bookcase
Measuring tape
Trim molding
Furniture feet
Putty
Spray paint
Decorative fabric
Scissors
Double-sided adhesive

Tools:
Miter saw
Finishing nail gun
Drill


To fancy up a plain bookcase, Alexandra Gater replaces the cheap shelving and answers the burning question: Is recycled/upcycled furniture usually better quality and value than IKEA? (Hint: the answer is yes.)


• Tutorial begins: 3:00
• End result: 6:07

Supplies:
Metal bookcase frame
Pine boards (number of pieces and measurements depend on shelf unit)
Wood stain
Cloth for staining
Gloves

Tools:
Jigsaw


Simple bare wood dressers are easy to upcycle to fit personal style and the mood of a particular room. This option by Mr. Kate would be at home in any eclectic, nautical, or stylish space. Use some of the sanding and refurbishing skills from other tutorials if you don't have a plain dresser to start.


• Tutorial begins: 3:00
• End result: 5:33

Supplies:
Sanded, raw wood dresser
Paint (high gloss or satin)
Paint roller or foam pad and paintbrush
Cup pulls
Flat corner braces
Measuring tape

Tools:
Drill


Upcycling your old sofa

Inherit an ugly sofa from grandma? Find a couch for a steal at a thrift store, but hate the color? Try painting it. You read that right—fabric paint takes the place of dyes, and you don't have to take the couch apart. FabulousNtheKitchen shows you how.


• Tutorial begins: 1:15
• End result: 3:39 and 5:14

Supplies:
Sofa
Chalk paint
Paintbrush
Spray bottle
Fine grit sanding block


A heavier lift, but a rewarding result, reupholstering your own couch is not as impossible as you might think. Ashley Spearman takes you through the steps in a series of videos and shows how some upcycled furniture ideas are well worth the effort.


Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4 (from a different couch, but teaches you the cushions process)

• Tutorial begins (Video 1): 4:00
• End result (Video 3): 8:29

Supplies:
Lots of fabric pins
Upholstery fabric
Scissors
Cardboard

Tools:
Flathead screwdriver
Needle-nose pliers
Staple gun
Sewing machine
Hammer
Iron


If you're starting from scratch when it comes to sofas, you can build your own using pallets. Pallet sofas lend a cool, lofty vibe to an apartment and work really well as outdoor furniture, too. You can enhance this Ollari's tutorial by adding sanding and staining steps or make your own pillows and cushions. Read more of our tips for sustainable furniture design.


• Tutorial begins: 0:07
• End result: 1:46

Supplies:
Standard wood pallets
Measuring tape
Screws

Tools:
Handsaw
Electric screwdriver


Restoring furniture to its original glory

Sometimes furniture only needs a little love to shine. A perfect example is this old drafting table restoration. An outdated piece with some clunky details gets a fresh look that pulls it into the modern day. You never know what natural beauty is hiding under old stains.


• Tutorial begins: 0:52
• End result: 11:01

Supplies:
Table or drafting table
Modern furniture wheels
Rubber gloves
Urethane stripper
Paintbrush
Rags and tack cloth
Liming wax
Wax polish
After Wash
Hardware as needed

Tools:
Electric screwdriver
Hand sander; 150 and 220 grit paper
Drill
Putty knife


Cocktail hour has a romantically nostalgic place in our history. And the accessories that come with it are no different. This cocktail cabinet refurbish is a perfect example of how we can reclaim the good things of the past for new use. 


• Tutorial begins: 0:47
• End result: 13:05

Supplies (minus electrical):
Cocktail cabinet
Optional: CitriStrip
After Wash
Brown Sharpie
Wood stain
Linseed oil
Cotton cloths
Acrylic spray varnish
100 and 400 grit sandpaper

Tools:
Card scraper


Upcycling unconventional items

If you've ever made a furniture impulse purchase only to realize you'll never use it, turn it into something you will use. When Serena Appiah of Thrift Diving had to admit she's no pool player, she turned an unused space waster into a helpful piece for something she is—an avid crafter.


• Tutorial begins: 0:50
• End result: 9:10

Supplies:
Pool table
Large piece of plywood
Screws
Strip Velcro
Fabric
Scissors
320 grit sandpaper
Wood filler
Painters tape
Primer
Latex paint
Paint rollers

Tools:
Circular saw
Drill
Pocket hole jig


Display your hobbies, even if they aren't conventional decor. Water skis, for instance, make unique tables or benches. Just ask Dan Vickery, who shows you how to repurpose wooden skis into the perfect blend of your passions and your design aesthetic.


• Tutorial begins: 1:08
• End result: 3:02

Supplies:
Vintage wooden water skis
2×2 pieces of finished pine
2 2×3 pieces of finished pine
Semi-gloss paint
Screws
Tape measure

Tools:
Circular saw
Electric screwdriver


Furniture upcycling projects for beginners

In life, it's the little things. For instance, a simple change of perspective can take a table in a whole new direction, as Mr. Kate demonstrates. See how she effortlessly turns an ordinary end table into a shadowbox display that's all personality.


• Tutorial begins: 1:11
• End result: 2:57

Supplies:
End table or coffee table with recessed underside
Sandpaper block
Cloths
Painters tape
Scissors
Paint
Paintbrush
Sheet of round glass

Tools:
Wrench


Details have the power to make or break a project. And nothing does detail better than decoupage. This idea by Denise Cooper gives fun flair and a flash of style to an oft-overlooked space: your dresser drawers.


• Tutorial begins: 0:57
• End result: 1:52

Supplies:
Decorative paper
Matte Mod Podge
Measuring tape
Scissors
Paintbrush


People love a good IKEA hack, and we're no different. There's something thrilling about turning inexpensive things into more useful, more stylish, more expensive looking, and more lasting pieces. Lone Fox on YouTube has some of the best we found.


Tutorial 1 – Painted rug
• Begins: 1:45
• End result: 4:41

Supplies:
IKEA Lohals jute rug
Scissors
Masking tape
Acrylic paint
Paintbrush

Tutorial 2 – Yarn sculpture
• Begins: 4:50
• End result: 7:08

Supplies:
IKEA Lindrande circular decoration
5 types of yarn
Scissors

Tutorial 3 – Painted throw pillow
• Begins: 7:24
• End result: 8:41

Supplies:
IKEA Gurli pillowcase
Fabric paint
Paintbrush
Square pillow

Tutorial 4 – Hanging shelves
• Begins: 8:55
• End result: 11:54

Supplies:
3 IKEA Aptitlig cutting boards
Ruler
Nylon rope
Scissors
Sharpie
Tools:
Drill


Don't let a little dust, a few scratches, or fading fabric ruin your relationship to your belongings. The things we own—even the ones that need some love—are worth cherishing. What's old can truly be made new with some elbow grease and a good DIY guide. Happy upcycling!

Lily Rogers

Lily is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her curiosity spans genre, from travel to pop culture to food, and she writes about all that and more. She's also a social introvert, literature nerd, and (slight) hoarder. When not in pursuit of her next adventure, she's most likely at home with her wife and two cats.

About the author

Lily Rogers

Lily is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her curiosity spans genre, from travel to pop culture to food, and she writes about all that and more. She's also a social introvert, literature nerd, and (slight) hoarder. When not in pursuit of her next adventure, she's most likely at home with her wife and two cats.

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