Ideas for Transforming Trash Into Furniture

“Trash to treasure” is one of those phrases which motivates DIY furniture builders. What could be more exciting than transforming found junk into something truly beautiful and functional?

There are so many materials to choose from when it comes to upcycling. Almost anything is fair game, but wood is a favorite. Sources of reclaimed wood include parts of old furniture, plywood signs, shipping pallets, and even salvaged floor boards or wall boards. Don’t forget old doors! They make excellent table tops and desk tops. Wooden crates are an excellent furniture building material, and so are scraps of two-by-fours that you might have hanging around the basement.

Do you need to be a skilled woodworker to build with reclaimed wood? It helps to have some carpentry skills, but this type of project can be great for beginners. Why? If you mess up, it’s not like you ruined expensive new wood! That’s part of why some of the best and most creative furniture-building projects have been done with found wood. Found wood just invites creativity.

This DIY bench is so cool! It was made by Fave Libler of MacGIRLver, which is incidentally a cute name and a great blog on DIY furniture building. What’s it made of? The wide wood boards are actually an old bed. After building the bench, she stained, painted, and sanded it down to its lovely weathered finish. The upholstered cushion is also a DIY project that you could do.

These street signs have so much potential! Smart builder Howard Bales used some old fashioned joinery skills when building a table from old plywood street signs. This table is actually a computer desk. Can’t you envision it in an industrial-chic office setting? While the road signs could be stripped, sanded, and painted over, there is something really exciting about seeing the original use for the boards, repurposed as a work station. What else could you think of to build with old road signs?

Wooden wine crates are a classic DIY building material. I’m always scanning the local Craigslist listings for free building materials, and I have seen fancy restaurants actually selling their used wine crates to New York City handymen, who like to collect them for projects. Selling the crates might just be a New York City thing (is there anything here that does not somehow involve profit?), so check with your local wineries and bars to find out if they have any wine crates to give away. Even if they’re selling them, rather than just giving them, wine crates are still a great material to repurpose. Like, look at this fabulous boutique hotel reception desk! I could see building a kitchen island out of wine crates, or a crafts table.

By Chaya Kurtz,


+Kitchen island made from an old door

+Buffet hutch made from pallets, shipping crates, and a piano lid

+Mostly freebie backyard deck and help folks to do the best and smartest home improvement and gardening projects.


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Sheena M.
Sheena M.2 years ago

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.3 years ago

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Past Member 3 years ago

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Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

These look great but I think you need a farmhouse or lakehouse to fit them into your décor. I wouldn't want them in my home.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

interesting, although i think it's illegal to take roadsigns...

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

I have built and sold lots of furnature made for recycled lumber and parts. I am working on a sculpture from recycled wire now I think it will be amazing.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thanks for the great ideas. Very creative.

Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you.

Anne Woods
Anne Woods4 years ago