I am absolutely addicted to decorating and redesigning all types of spaces, and I know that many of you feel the same way! When conversations turn to home décor, or we read articles discussing the newest styles and trends, the word repurpose seems to frequently appear.

Repurpose simply means “to use or convert for use in another format” and it’s gaining in popularity. In my experience, there’s no better feeling than finding, or keeping, something old and having a brilliant idea to transform it into something even greater.

Repurposing allows us to avoid contributing to the landfill, practice green living, save money, utilize our talents and creativity and enjoy a custom piece in our home that is guaranteed not to be seen elsewhere.

Quality furniture is expensive, so if you begin with a good, solid piece of furniture it will save you additional money in the long run to find a way to make it work for you in a new way. If you have an unused dresser simply taking up space at home, or enjoy the idea of searching for a potential treasure at a local consignment shop or flea market, here are several tips and ideas for repurposing that old dresser and benefitting from the additional function it can provide.

Turn a dresser into a bookshelf – Remove all of the drawers, or keep one or two along the bottom, depending on your storage and display needs. Add plywood to create shelves, sand, paint or stain, and you have a stylish bookshelf. Turn a dresser into a bathroom vanity – If you’re tired of your plain bathroom vanity, add character by creating one. Cut a hole in the dresser for the sink, and re-work the top drawers and back panel to make room for the plumbing. Sand, repaint, add new hardware, and you’re on your way to a custom piece for your bathroom. Turn a dresser into a kitchen island – Remove the top of the dresser and replace it with marble, granite or butcher block.

Keep in mind that all four sides of the dresser will show, so after you add a nice paint finish consider adding some details such as molding or corbels.

Turn a dresser into a garden planter – If you have limited outdoor space and love to garden, you can cut a hole in the top of the dresser to plant veggies or flowers in the top drawers. Open the middle and bottom drawers so that they’re staggered for more planting space.

Turn a dresser into a desk – Remove the drawers and the bottom support on one side of the dresser leaving the entire back and the side support. This may take a bit more finishing work to get it to the point of being a stylish desk, but for those looking for a bit more of a challenge, this may be the ideal project for you!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with finishes. Anything and everything can be painted. Rough up your surface first using sandpaper, then paint or stain your dresser in a well ventilated area. Add a second coat if desired, or consider using a glaze or metallic paint for a unique look.

You can also rough up your newly painted piece for a antique, shabby-chic look. Seal your dresser with shellac for durability if it will be used frequently. Finish it off with attractive hardware that conveys the style you’re looking to achieve, then place it in its new home.


Donna Mancini,
Interior Decorator Home Staging and Design

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