DIY Furniture Transformations

Custom mirror leaning against white paneled wall
Make the most of your furnishings by repurposing pieces into custom creations that look good and work hard. With these simple, affordable ideas, you'll be able to transform your ordinary furniture into fresh finds for your home.

Power Horses

Bring an industrial chic look to your home office with a desk made from metal sawhorses, the support of choice in workshops and garages. After you prime them with a rust-inhibiting primer, paint them any color of your choosing, such as this bold cerulean blue. Add a shelf cut from medium-density fiberboard (MDF) for extra storage. Top the sawhorses with a desk custom-made from MDF, or simply span the pair with a salvaged or new home-center door.

Editor's Tip: Hold a magnet up to the sawhorses. If it sticks, you'll have extra note-keeping function built-in.

Sixteen bloggers competed in the Better Homes and Gardens Makeover Madness Tournament. The final four came to our headquarters to complete the championship round challenge. and one will be crowed the winner. Meet the contestants and see how their projects turned out.

One Dresser, Four Ways

We put four bloggers to the ultimate furniture makeover test. See how they creatively transformed a basic dresser.

Space-Saver Table

Short on square footage? Trim a cumbersome old table down to a tidy console. Cut the table to the desired length (but no more than 18 inches for stability) and trim off the legs. Mount a 1x4 board to the wall, and use L-shape brackets to secure the desk to it.

Editor's Tip: To create the clever memo center, cut an old crib spring down to a square shape, and frame the cut edge with a 1x2 board.

Dress up a plain piece of upholstered furniture with nailhead trim. Use these tips to help you achieve embellishment success.

Add Nailhead Trim

Transform a so-so ottoman into a one-of-a-kind piece with nailhead trim. Watch and see how easy it is!

High-Flying Sled

Turn an old sled into a unique pot rack that's sure to get noticed. Suspend the sled from the ceiling, being sure to screw into the joists for a firm anchor. Use jute rope to suspend it for a rustic look, or you could use chain or cable as well. Hang pots and pans from metal S hooks, which you can purchase from a hardware supply store.

Editor's Tip: To hang the sled using rope, use rope clamps to secure the loops.

Convert an ordinary bookcase into locker-style storage for your mudroom.

Bookcase Mudroom

No entryway? No problem! Add the function of an entryway with a fit-almost-anywhere bookcase command center with storage for entryway essentials.

Dog Days and Nights

Help your pampered pooch rest easy in this bed made from an old chair. Cut the back and front legs from the chair and discard the rest. Measure the width of the chair back, and build a frame out of inexpensive pine boards or plywood. Attach the chair back to one end of the frame and the legs to the opposite end using wood glue and screws, then prime and paint it a unifying color. Add a washable cushion or dog bed.

Yes, you can actually paint upholstered furniture and give a tired piece a brand new look. Learn how, plus what type of paint to use, and the secrets to success.

Clever Upholstery Makeover

Give an old upholstery chair new life with paint. See the secrets to success.

Table Talk

Give a side table new voice with old letterpress blocks added to the top. Look for the blocks at thrift or antiques stores. Glue the blocks to the tabletop, then add a new piece of glass. Have a local glassmaker produce a smooth-edge piece that fits exactly or slightly larger than the table base.

Editor's Tip: Ask the glassmaker to determine what thickness the glass should be given your table size. Also, ask whether tempered glass, which is safer in case of breakage, might be a good option.

Sink Strategy

Fashion a sturdy bedside table into a one-of-a-kind vanity. Make it plumbing-ready by removing the top and drawer box (reattach the front using wood adhesive). Add a shelf at the bottom to gain storage. Shop for granite remnants that are inexpensive and can be trimmed to fit, then attach the remnant using construction adhesive.

Editor's Tip: Ask a stonemason to cut plumbing holes, using the actual sink and faucet for the template.

Want to update a piece of furniture, but don't want to overhaul the entire thing? Try this simple approach with paint.

Easy Nightstand Makeover

Spruce up an old nightstand with a super quick paint makeover.

In the File

Turn up the volume on a pair of plain metal file cabinets by painting them a bright, bold hue. Paint them yourself, or ask an auto body detailer to do it for you. Finally, meld the two with a single top cut from scrap stone. 

Editor's Tip: Remove or mask off all the hardware before painting. Use a spray paint specially formulated for metal; apply at least two coats.

A Better Coat Rack

Repurpose an old bookcase as a chic mini mudroom. Perk up its tired appearance with a bright coat of paint, pretty cabinet doorknobs, and a few yards of patterned wallpaper. Put the upper shelf back in place and stock it with labeled baskets. Screw in hooks below for coats and bags.

Editor's Tip: If the bookcase back is too thin to support the coat hooks, glue a 1x4 to the back of the case using construction adhesive, and screw the hooks into it.

Linen Basket

Marry an old fruit crate with two camping stools to create a handy foot-of-the-bed catchall. If the canvas seats on the stools are torn or soiled, replace them with new fabric cut from a painter's drop cloth, or any inexpensive and sturdy fabric of your choosing. Simply cut the fabric to size, fold under the raw edges, and staple in place.

Garden Center

Transform an armoire into a potting center that meets every need your green thumb could have. Start with an unfinished armoire, or salvage one from a garage sale or secondhand store. Line the inside of the cabinet with pieces of pegboard, remove the top drawer, and remove two panels of the doors. Paint the entire piece. Replace drawer hardware with knobs that fit the theme, and staple wire mesh into the door openings. Add shelves to the cabinet interior as needed for bins and pots.

Painting Furniture 101

Watch how to give furniture a facelift with a fresh coat of paint.

Tray Chic

Couple an adjustable-height stool with an oversize tray to create a chic side table. Apply construction adhesive between the stool top and tray to permanently connect the objects.

Bookcase Buffet

When it comes to creating posh pieces of furniture for your dining room, think outside the box. Convert bookcases into a custom store-and-serve buffet. Using wall anchors, hang a pair of bookcases horizontally while placing a third on the floor directly below. Mount the middle bookcase at counter height so it can be used as a serving station for cocktails.

Head of the Table

Stylize your dining area seating by combining an upholstered headboard with a seat-height bench. Use anchor bolts to hang the headboard a few inches above the bench. Finish by adding a comfortable cushion and throw pillows.

Work Space Savvy

This remarkably roomy desk unit is a source of hideaway storage and desktop space. Attach a wood countertop to rolling drawers using metal L-brackets. To secure the shelf, fasten straight brackets to both the countertop and shelf.

Pillow Talk

You'll have sweet dreams with this homemade headboard made of floor pillows. Shop for floor pillows that are of equal width of your bed when placed side by side. Stitch several plastic rings (sold at sewing centers) in a row to the back of each pillow near its top edge. Install nails or screws on the wall above the bed to hang the loops.

Sitting Pretty

Take your tired, throwaway bed frame and change it from to junky to funky. Cut the footboard in half vertically and fasten one half to each end of the headboard using screws and wood glue. For the seat and front rail, cut pieces of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and attach using screws and wood glue. After sanding, priming, and painting, stylize the settee with nail head trim. Use a foam pad and batting wrapped in a colorful, patterned fabric for a comfy cushion.

Bench Basics

Convert a bookshelf into a storage-friendly bench. Turn the bookshelf on its side and add panels to each end. Add wooden furniture feet. Paint the piece to complement the colors in your space. Throw a cushion on top and it's complete.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Pamper your pooch by building a bed made from an unused side table. Remove the top and doors, then cut away any support pieces. After sanding rough edges, apply a fresh coat of paint that will complement your space. Finish by placing a fluffy dog pillow inside.

Cool Stools

Assemble your own makeshift library by stacking repurposed stools. Paint the three pieces in coordinating colors. This is a practical and affordable way to house your favorite reads.

Nifty Nightstand

Craft a small, ordinary dining table into a nifty nightstand. Mimic egg-and-dart molding around the apron of the table using clever paint techniques. Start by tracing evenly spaced arches around the bottom of the apron. Dip a curved-bristle brush in brown acrylic paint and drag it around the pencil mark. Dip a round artist's brush in water, removing excess water with a paper towel. Brush to remove areas of the wet brown paint to create shadows and dimension.

Raise Your Glass

Alter a simple armoire to create a storage-packed buffet. Cut the doors in half and move the hinges to make room for a beverage bar above and storage cabinets underneath. Winery-inspired shelves create more space to house your favorite drinks. For a touch of elegance, add crown molding and scrolled bottom molding. Finish with a fresh coat of paint.

Craft Station

Transform a rolling kitchen cart into a fun and functional craft area. A wood block countertop and drop-leaf side panel provide a durable work surface. The cubbies underneath are a perfect place to store boxes and bins of supplies.

A Fresh Start

Transform your waste-of-space entertainment center into a handy, hardworking laundry station. After applying a fresh coat of paint, install a hanging rod in one of the tallest sections to function as storage and a place to drip-dry delicates. Baskets offer organized storage for ironing supplies and other necessities. A lazy Susan keeps cleaning supplies within reach.

Table Talk

Fasten a frame, a candlestick, and wooden plaques together to build a bedside table. Attach the plaques to the bottom of the candlestick using screws and wood glue. Spray-paint the base and the empty frame. Add your own flair by placing fabric or paper inside the frame, then attach to the top of the candlestick.

Stackable Storage with Style

Enhance the style and storage of an entertainment center with stackable storage cubes. Assemble this unit by screwing together two 15-inch open cubes and one 30-inch cube with drawers. Sandwich the assembly between two 3/4-inch pieces of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) using screws. Align the pieces on the sides and back, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang on the front. Finish by fastening eight metal legs.

Mirror Magic

Large mirrors with fancy frames can break the bank. Save the money and construct a custom frame by building your own around a mirrored closet door. Incorporate a piece of paintable textured wallcovering to the inset panel above the mirror. Try adding decorative trim or molding for an extra design motif.

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