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9 Upcycling Furniture Ideas That Save Money & Look Great

Oh, the joyous task of getting furniture. It’s the dreaded moment you trudge to IKEA and spend your precious weekend in queues, only to spend your hard-earned money on something you’re not sure you even like, and then proceed to decipher impossible instruction leaflets. But don’t fear, there’s a much easier way to get gorgeous furniture that’s unique and a fraction of the cost.

#1. Pallet furniture

Pallets, a DIYer’s biggest pal. Why? Because they’re incredibly cheap — or at least, they can be depending on where you source them from. Secondly, they’re really versatile. Each pallet is the wooden equivalent of a Lego block — add nails, a hammer and a saw, and you can make yourself tables, beds, sofas, and even lounging chairs.

Make sure you’re getting heat-treated pallets, because otherwise you’re looking at dragging home a host of harsh chemicals — specifically methyl bromide — things you generally don’t want to sleep, eat, or sit on. To tell the difference: look for the IPPC logo. Then, check for the letters “HT” — they’ll be under the two-letter country code (i.e. “US”) and a set of numbers. If you find pallets labeled “MB” instead, steer clear.

#2. Old tires furniture

If you’ve got a backyard — and more importantly, an empty backyard — then you can have a lot of fun with old tires. Cutting them up is pretty easy, and it’s practically all you need to do to transform them into anything you want: planters, swings, a hose caddy, or even your very own outdoors jungle gym!

With some ingenuity and a lot of time spent cutting and weaving, you can use tires to make chairs and coffee tables, or if you’re looking for a quick indoor idea, plaster your tire with glue and cord to make a simple Ottoman seat.

#3. Empty propane tank furniture

If you come by trashed/decommissioned propane canisters, or have some at home, an easy way to recycle them would be to slap a slab of wood atop them and bam! You’ve got yourself a bedside night desk. With some woodcutting, upholstery and a nice piece of canvas, you can even use them as sturdy, rustic-looking industrial stools. They can also be used to build single-legged tables, if you’re looking for a sturdy way to build a low coffee table for the living room.

#4. Old furniture

Recycling furniture into furniture might seem redundant, but when you’ve got a pair of chairs with their seats broken but their back and legs intact, you can, with a little DIY spirit, mix things up a little by turning them into a bench. Alternatively, you can flip old wooden cabinets, give them a paint job and turn them into chests! Garden chairs that you no longer have any room for can be hung on the wall by the back, and unfolded to make for extra storage space for books, plates, and other clutter.

#5. Filing cabinet furniture

Is your company (or are you) throwing out old metal filing cabinets? Welcome to the modern age! But, that doesn’t mean your old cabinets should end up in the trash pile. Modernization is great, but repurposing is even better! Filing cabinets make for excellent tool storage containers. You can even drill drainage holes into them to turn them into creative little planters.

#6. Container furniture

Crates, wooden and plastic, can be used for basement storage! Wooden crates are especially charming when stacked on their side, and the worn prints they’ve got on them only enhance the rustic look. Bottle crates make for inexpensive little seedling incubators when combined with plastic cups — and if you cover up the marketing on a cardboard six-pack container with some construction paper, you’ve got yourself an office-table penholder ready to go.

Don’t stop there! Tin cans, shoe boxes, basketballs — if you’ve got something lying around, chances are you can put it to good use.

#7. Furniture from musical instruments

Okay, so not everyone’s got a broken grand piano laying around (but if you do, then you gotta admit that this is pretty dang nifty) — but even a punctured guitar or acoustic bass that is beyond repairing can be put to some use around the house. Though usually more of a decorative feature than substantial furniture material, broken musical instruments can have their place in tucking things away neatly, or otherwise cheering up your home.

And with a little careful crafting, you can turn the body of your old guitar case into a coffee table, with extra storage to boot — or turn your broken guitar into an upright CD rack with a little paintjob and a pair of planks.

#8. Ladder furniture

Alright, so it was a bad pun — but the idea is great! Ladders make for excellent towel, laundry, clothing and pot racks, bookshelves, lighting implements and more! With the help of a couple 5-gallon buckets, you can even set up a little vertical farm in your backyard if you’re lacking for space in the vegetable garden department. And if you’re in need of a solution to step up to the plate, an old ladder and a used cabinet make the perfect combination for a home-built dish rack.

#9. Corner furniture

If you’re a little low on horizontal options, then the quickest solution is to go vertical. Small homes don’t have to make for bad storage — and you don’t have to get complicated or expensive to get comfortably furnished. The answers are in the little things — so make the most out of your nooks and crannies, and you’ll be organized and snug in no time.

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