Discover Countless Decor Possibilities Hiding in Your Junk Pile

By Staff
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By Samantha Schoech, Houzz 

There is so much to be said for using old stuff instead of heading to the store every time the mood to decorate strikes. First, it’s environmentally friendly and much easier on the pocketbook. But do-gooding aside, homes that incorporate old or odd items into their decor are more original and have tons more personality. I mean, sure you can get cute matching nightstands at your local big-box store. 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 items look best mixed in with new stuff. After all, we’re going for personality and originality, not junkyard chic. 

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

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

Adrienne DeRosa, original photo on Houzz 

This gorgeous old bare-wood door adds the perfect texture to this modern country room.

They just don’t make suitcases like they used to. They may be lighter and easier now, but they aren’t as great looking. If you have a few old clunkers lying around, consider stacking them for a side table. 

Hint: Spray paint them first if they are ugly, mismatched or dirty. You can screw them together to prevent toppling with a few small bolts and wing nuts. 

Tommy Chambers Interiors, Inc., original photo on Houzz 

I love the industrial look of this tool-drawer-turned-nightstand. It looks great mixed with the softer floral pattern and feminine lamp

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

Monica Ewing, original photo on Houzz

The key to turning old stuff into new, useful stuff is often clever disguises. These old crates plus paint and some cute paper backing equals pretty, one-of-kind shelving for about $25. 

akvalasek, original photo on Houzz 

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

Old, beat-up wooden ladders are such a popular decorating item these days that they can be hard to find. But if you have one taking up space in the garage, consider putting it to good use as a plant stand. It’s not easy getting height in the garden. Or use it as a leaning towel rack. Or as a laundry or pot hanger. Or as a hanging shelf. 

Cynthia Mason Interiors, original photo on Houzz 

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

Lucid Interior Design Inc., original photo on Houzz 

An old teacher’s desk also makes a lovely vanity. And here the drawer space can be saved, since the plumbing can fit in the middle. 

10 More Clever Uses for Old Things

Empty wine bottles become an original and glowing chandelier.

An old snowshoe is a perfect frame for a powder room mirror. 

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

Related: Convert Almost Anything Into a Chalkboard With This Paint Recipe 

A milking jug (does anyone still use these for milking?) makes a great umbrella stand. 

Watering troughs as planters. 

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

Ugly cinder blocks are transformed into a geometrical, modern planter. 

A spray painted dish drainer is reborn as a desktop organizer. 

Those drums you never use? Add a glass top to one, and you’ve got a coffee table and a conversation piece. 

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