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Low-Cost Ways to Repurpose and Upcycle Your Furnishings

March 4, 2024
Low-Cost Ways to Repurpose and Upcycle Your Furnishings


Repurposing and upcycling old furnishings is a great way to give them new life while saving money. With a little creativity, you can transform pieces you already own into fresh, stylish items for your home. Here are some of my favorite low-cost ways to repurpose and upcycle furnishings.

Sand and Paint Old Furniture

One of the easiest ways to update old furniture is by sanding and painting it. This simple fix can make even the most outdated pieces look brand new.

I like to sand furniture thoroughly with coarse sandpaper first to remove any glossy finish or flaking paint. Next, I smooth it out with finer grit sandpaper. My top tip is to always wear a mask when sanding to avoid breathing in sawdust.

Once sanded, wipe the furniture with a dry cloth to remove any dust. Apply 2-3 thin coats of spray paint in your color of choice, allowing each coat to fully dry in between. The transformation is amazing!

Spray paint adheres to most surfaces and dries quickly. It’s affordable at $3-6 per can. I’ve given new life to dressers, chairs, side tables, and more with this simple paint job.

Turn Shelves Into Wall Art

Old wooden shelves can be repurposed into stylish wall art with just a coat of paint. Here’s how I upcycle shelves on the cheap:

  1. Lightly sand the shelf to rough up the surface so paint will adhere better.

  2. Apply 2-3 coats of spray paint in a color that complements your room’s decor. Let dry fully between coats.

  3. Lean the shelf against the wall where you want it hung. Mark spots for hangers with a pencil.

  4. Screw hangers into the wall, then mount the shelf. Fill holes with spackle if needed.

The unique shape of the shelf makes it visually interesting. Hang vertically or horizontally. I love using repurposed shelves to display decor above beds, sofas, and entryways. The color makes them pop as artwork.

Makeover Tables With Contact Paper

Contact paper offers an inexpensive way to overhaul old laminate tables. I prefer removable contact paper since it’s easy to switch up patterns later.

To apply:

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the table surface.

  • Cut contact paper to fit each section of the tabletop.

  • Peel off backing and press down firmly to adhere, smoothing out any air bubbles with a soft cloth.

  • Use an X-ACTO knife to trim off excess paper around the edges.

  • Make sure edges are fully sealed by rubbing firmly with a cloth.

In one afternoon and under $20, I can give my kitchen or dining tables a fresh new look with contact paper. Florals, geometric designs, and faux wood grain patterns hide scratches or stains in the original surface. It’s a renter-friendly makeover too since it’s removable.

Make Pillow Covers From Scarves

Scarves make gorgeous recycled pillow covers with a bit of DIY sewing. Here’s how I upcycle scarves into pillows:

  • Choose a rectangular scarf and matching pillow insert that’s slightly smaller than the scarf.

  • Fold the scarf in half with right sides facing and sew together along 3 edges, leaving one short end open.

  • Trim seams, turn right side out, then insert pillow through the open end.

  • Hand sew the open end closed.

The luxurious fabrics and patterns of scarves bring instant style to throw pillows. I’ve made accent pillows using silk scarves, cotton scarves, and lightweight blanket scarves. Insert a thrifted pillow form on the cheap. Repurposed pillows make great gifts too!


With a little creativity, you can give new life to furnishings you already own instead of buying new. Sanding and painting, upcycling shelves and tables, and making pillow covers from scarves are a few of my favorite ways to repurpose items on a budget. The before and after transformations are so rewarding. I hope these low-cost upcycling ideas inspired you to look at your home’s furnishings in a whole new way!

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