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Repurposing a piece of damaged furniture through the use of baskets

Updated on January 21, 2014

Turn worn and damaged into stunningly beautiful

The great thing about re-purposing furniture is that it can be done in any room in the home from the Kitchen to the bathroom

Re-purposing, finding a newer and better use for something that might otherwise be discarded is not limited to any one area of the home. All rooms have furniture right, even the bathroom needs a place to store towels, soap, etc. In my experience as I have run these companies and gone out looking for old piece to buy and reuse it has been part of the fun looking at a piece indifferent way to determine just how it might be used. For example a damaged lingerie chest this missing drawers makes a great bathroom shelf when the piece is painted and the drawers removed and replaced with heavy weave baskets. That can be picked up at your local Walmart or Kmart for less than you might think!

You can re-purpose for savings, fun, even profit!

I guess you could say I know a little about reusing or re-purposing furniture. I have successfully started, run and sold two Facebook based businesses that do just that and having recently sold the second of the two have just started a third albeit with a bit of a twist. Since 2009 when I retired due to health issues, I started a company called Cottage Creations, Macon, Georgia that my son Kelly still successfully runs today and then a second company known as Cold Creek Remarketers, Macon Georgia that is now run successfully by my Son in Law and Daughter, Cason and Amanda Grant. Feel free to check either of them out for some great ideas on how to reuse, recycle, re-purpose or up-cycle (as has become the more popular term today) old furniture and home accessories.

I am not sure when the idea became so popular that it was a good thing if something broke or became damaged to discard it and buy new but in my opinion it was a bad one. Many items that have ended up at Goodwill or worse yet in a landfill somewhere still have years of good use left in them if only someone will take the time to look at them in a little different way and imagine what they could be verses what they are now.

Re-purposing has become a growing trend over the last few years and I for one am happy to see it. We live in a country in my opinion that throws away far too much from food to clothes and yes even furniture and I think that the idea of taking something old and no longer suitable for it's original intent and finding a way to give it new life again by using it for something else is not only kind to the environment leaving the world a little better place for our children and grandchildren but it is also a much more economical approach to living. Put simply, it saves you money.

Certainly you can take that old dresser or chest of drawers to the local Goodwill or that type facility or worse yet drag it out to the curb for the garbage men to pick up and haul to the land fill and head on down to the local Rooms to Go to pick up a new one at about $600 to $800 but why? When with just a little effort on your part you can transform the piece into something different and beautiful even unusual to some extent that will have your guests asking "where did you find that?"

a re-purposed lingerie chest makes a great bathroom shelf

Here are a few tips for where to look and what to do.

Furniture is expensive, there is not doubt about that. It can get really costly if you insist on buying new. A large portion of the population still does that and I guess "to each his ow" applies but to me, it makes little or no sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a new piece when you have something right there at home that can be made beautiful and serve the same purpose or you can pick something up at a thrift store for a fraction of the cost and the same rules apply.

In my day to day experience, I have bought pieces for $25 or less that were in perfect condition just needing paint. The pieces that need minor repair are the real deals, coming in at as little as $5, in some cases as low as $2. These are the deals that have real potential and are the ones of which I am usually the most proud because the numbers invested verses the finished product are just so ridiculous.

The process is really pretty simple and you can start small say with an end table or night stand to make it more manageable as you go along. Here's what you do. First choose he piece. Maybe you have something already that is damaged and that is why you are reading this or maybe you'll have to go out an find something, either way works. If you are like me, you might find that going out and looking can be your favorite part of the process.

I like to shop the local thrift stores, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, etc. Craigslist is also a good source form time to time. You might also want to check the On line yards sales on Facebook in your area. I have picked up some nice pieces there.

Having found the piece, then you'll need to decide what you plan to do to it. There are several options of course. You can paint the piece, do a combination of painted and natural finished or leave the piece in natural finish if that is how you found it, like it and the finish is in good shape. If not there are some ways to revitalize a natural finish that has lost its luster that I will address in a moment.

Let's say you found a piece that is missing drawers and has a beat up look so you want to paint it and use baskets to replace the missing drawers. First remove the remaining drawer parts, runners, braces, etc. then lightly sand the piece using a light grit sandpaper, something like a 220 is recommended so as not to leave deep scratches in the finish. Once the piece is sanded wipe it down completely using a soft damp cloth to remove any dust and debris.

Once the piece is completely dry, it is time to paint. I recommend the use of spray products, typically Rustoleum brand as it goes on easily and generally covers well. I would recommend a base primer coat tinted toward the finish color you desire for example for reds or orange, red oxide primer, for blacks or dark blues, gray primer and for lighter colors white.

Apply the paint in even strokes left to right be sure to apply light coats to avoid runs. It might take as many as two coats of primer and three coats of finish to cover the piece completely. Remember to be sure to spray the area inside the missing drawers that you will be replacing with baskets as it will make for a better looking job.

When the piece is dry, it is time to locate your baskets. Start by measuring the opening the height, depth and width. If you have a hard time find an exact fit, the depth is where you will want to compromise as a variation in it will not be noticed if the baskets are left to the front.

Once you have your measurements, you might want to start by calling or search on line to save you some time and money. Discount stores are always a good place to look. Depending on the size needed you can sometimes find them there very inexpensively, I have even found them at times at DOLLAR TREE.

Once the baskets have been located, I recommend spraying them with a polyurethane sealer both inside and out in order to extend their life. One to two coats should be sufficient.

If you decide on a natural finish and you piece is is good shape just a little dull looking you can bring it to life again by wiping it down with mixture of olive oil and lemon juice in equal parts. There are also over the counter products available such as Scott's Liquid Gold and Old English Furniture Restorer.

In the end I think you will find the process fun and rewarding and it might even bring you to consider doing over some pieces to resell for profit. Trust me it can be done. My latest venture is Middle Georgia Furniture Brokers on Facebook and it is designed to help DIY types and entrepreneurs find pieces to redo at prices which they can afford. In my years of doing this I have developed a network of contacts with whom I buy and sell and now I am concentrating on doing just that and leaving the redoing and restoration to my children and others.

If you are interested in learning more about the process feel free to follow me on Facebook and submit you questions. I will be happy to respond and offer the best advice I can!

Your piece may look like this as you start the project
Your piece may look like this as you start the project
But your finished product can be beautiful
But your finished product can be beautiful


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    • klw1157 profile image

      Kevin Washburn 4 years ago from Macon, GA

      Your are welcome Creativenovella! Thanks for the read!

    • creativenovella profile image

      Naomi Novella 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Great ideas here! I'm going to be on the look out on the street for thrown out dressers to be turned into new and beautiful pieces with basket drawers. Thanks for another informative tutorial!

    • klw1157 profile image

      Kevin Washburn 4 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thanks Karen Hellier! I appreciate the read!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Great article with some wonderful ideas. Good for you on your prosperous businesses and taking better care of our earth by recycling!