How to Repurpose Old Furniture

The saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But before you kick your hand-me-downs to the curb, try breathing new life into them as useful and stylish pieces for your home.  

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Photography by Samantha Labrecque

On Island Time 

If your kitchen doesn’t come with a sizeable island topped with a gleaming marble countertop, don’t fret. Repurpose an old dresser or desk (for a larger floor space) or a dry sink (for a smaller floor space) as your new-to-you island. This simple yet effective DIY not only provides a storage solution but also additional counter space.

Things to consider:

• Counter height is typically thirty-five to thirty-six inches tall.

• If your antique piece is too short, consider adding caster wheels to the bottom. Bonus: it’s easy to move! 

• To change the aesthetics of the piece all together, paint, stain or strip/sand it to its natural wood tone.

• Place a slab of quartz, marble, granite or even butcher block on your repurposed piece to match the rest of your counters.

Catch-all Cart 

You don’t need a brand-new bookcase or shelving unit to organize your mementos, dishware, linens and more. Repurpose a vintage baker’s rack or industrial shoe rack as an open-air catch-all. The raw wood of the rack typically features spindle shelving that was once used as a cooling rack for fresh-out-of-the-oven goods in a bakery, or for the latter, shoes in a factory.

Use the vintage rack for: 

• Dishware that’s too pretty to pack away. 

• Extra blankets and pillows, plus other linens.  

• Decorative pieces like vases, candles etc.

• Books, books and more books. 

• Storage for additional towels, toilet paper and other self-care products in your bathroom. 

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Photography by Samantha Labrecque

Taking a Stand 

DIY an antique dresser as the next standout piece in your home. Not only is a refurbished dresser ideal for a TV stand, but it also serves as a distraction from the unsightly black box in your living room. Either use a piece you already own or find a dresser that is long enough to hold your television. Then, paint it, stain it or sand it down to its original wood tone to match the rest of your decor. Add your own flair to your DIY dresser by switching out the knobs and pulls to better fit your style. An added bonus? A dresser-turned-TV-stand provides practical storage for movies, games and more below!


Three Ways to Get the ‘Old’ Smell Out of Antique Furniture

Does your antique have a funky, old or musty smell? It probably just needs a little TLC! 

Dryer Sheets and Baking Soda

First and foremost, fresh air and sunshine are key. Get your piece outside for a breath of fresh air. If your piece has a mild or even moderate smell, put baking soda in a bowl and place
it inside your furniture. Leave it for about a week to absorb
the smell. Dryer sheets can also be placed inside the furniture
for a more pleasant scent. This may not completely remove the smell, but it will certainly mask it.

Murphy’s Oil Soap 

This pure vegetable oil soap not only cleans wood, but it also helps eliminate stinky aromas, too. Simply pour the original solution on a clean rag and wipe! Or, try the pre-packaged soft wipes and get your furniture smelling new again.

Water and Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. So, dilute it with a one-to-one water ratio (white vinegar works best!) and use a clean rag to thoroughly wipe it down. Plus, this natural cleaning solution is an excellent alternative to harsh chemicals.  

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Photography by Samantha Labrecque

Local Antique Stores to Find Quality Pieces 

Looking for an antique piece to rehab? (You don’t actually have to go trash picking!) Just check out Facebook Marketplace, local buy and trade groups and antique vendors like the ones listed below.

Antiques Alley
711 Putnam Pike, Greenville, 401-949-4999, 

The Find on 6
2953 Hartford Ave., Johnston, 401-764-0651, 

Nostalgia Antiques and Collectibles
236 Wickenden St., Providence, 401-400-5810, 

Mike’s Estate Services
65 Manchester St., West Warwick, 401-825-7670, 

Rhode Island Antiques Mall
345 Fountain St., Pawtucket, 401-475-3400, 

Four Echoes
380 Fall River Ave., Seekonk, MA, 508-336-0800,