Trash to Treasure: 14 Creative Ways to Make Good Use of Old Stuff

These innovative projects will inspire you to dig through your discards and repurpose them into useful furnishings and interesting accents for your home.

By Marisa Villarreal | Updated Nov 10, 2021 03:39 PM

Books Table Lamp

DIY Lamp

This project is easier than it looks: Drill a hole through each volume in the stack, string some lamp wire through, then glue a socket to the top book. Flip the switch and, almost literally, illuminate your world with the written word.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Used Books


Mason Jar Chandelier

Mason Jar DIY

Create this eye-catching and inexpensive chandelier with just 12 wide-mouth jars, lighting kits, and various bits of hardware from IKEA; use CFL bulbs to keep the jars from getting too hot. This same general project could be adjusted to make individual pendant lights.

WE Design Studios

Wood Shutters Headboard

Shutter DIY

Four whitewashed shutters—topped with a length of decorative, carved molding—make up this beautiful headboard. Depending on the stability and height of the shutters, you can either bolt them to the wall or attach them directly to the bed frame.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Wood Shutters

Ladder Nightstand

DIY Night Stand

The small stature of a step ladder makes it an ideal nightstand, no alterations required. The steps provide multiple levels, so a reading lamp, books, beverage, and even flowers can share the real estate.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Vintage Ladders

Wine Barrel Mirror

Wine Barrel DIY

If you have more advanced DIY abilities, including woodworking and drilling into metal, a single wine barrel can go a long way. Take this entryway mirror, for example. Buy a half barrel at your local home improvement center, cut it down to size, and then slot in a plain round mirror for a rustic addition to your home.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Old Barrels

Gutter Bookshelves

Gutter DIY

Rain gutter shelving is ideal for the oversize picture books often found in children's rooms, and it can easily be mounted low so young ones can reach. But for a more grown-up take on this project, adapt copper gutters to hold magazines or favorite records in more adult surroundings.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Gutters

Angela Whelan-Obermueller

Lattice Tool Holder

Lattice Ideas

Thanks to this clever idea, you may finally be able to organize the contained chaos within your garden or tool shed. Cut a piece of heavy-duty lattice to size and mount it to a door or interior wall; use S-hooks and clamps to hold tools in place.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Lattice

Car Tire Grassy Seat

Tire DIY

The tire-as-planter idea is hardly novel, but it can be given plenty of twists. Mount old tires on the wall and let plants cascade down, or stack and stagger tires in your backyard for a more elaborate design. Or, as shown here, improvise a unique riff on the theme by building grass-cushioned seating.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Old Tires

Picture Frame Molding

DIY Picture Frame

If you're looking for an easy way to get the look of decorative molding, why not repurpose frames as a wall treatment? Consider it a literal take on traditional picture frame molding.

Related: 5 Things to Do With…Picture Frames

Silverware Cabinet Pulls

Silverware DIY

Swap out traditional cabinet pulls in favor of repurposed silverware. Simply heat, bend, and drill for an inexpensive update to your kitchen.

Related: 5 Things to Do With…Old Silverware

Tin Cans Wine Rack

Tin Can DIY

Tin cans and glue come together with spray paint to create an inexpensive and fully customizable wine rack. Incorporate as many tin cans as you need—or want, if you'd like to leave room for a few extra bottles. (If you build it, they will come!)

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Tin Cans

Beadboard Bathtub Surround

Beadboard Ideas

Beadboard is handy for covering dishwashers, ceilings, and other surfaces that lack style. This standard-issue bathtub got an elegant upgrade with a custom beadboard tub surround.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Beadboard

Pallet Plate Rack

Pallet Ideas

Bring a serious boost of country charm to your kitchen by using a classic shipping pallet to display your plates. This project requires hardly any modifications to the pallet! Just add a couple of long nails to keep each plate from falling forward and two eye screws to hang the pallet on the wall.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Shipping Pallets

Corrugated Metal Outdoor Shower

DIY Outdoor Shower

This open-air shower requires only basic building skills and few materials: aluminum sheeting, lumber, and an outdoor shower kit from your local home improvement store. In a single day, you can create an outdoor shower that looks great and feels even better.

Related:  5 Things to Do With…Corrugated Metal

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