Makeovers for Garage Sale Gems

Bookshelf drop-down door
Many items that end up in landfills could have been re-purposed with just a little work and imagination. Salvage your unwanted castoffs with these chic and cheap ideas.

Before: Boring & Basic

Unattractive TV cabinets are thrift shop regulars. Take a boring cabinet and turn it into a show stopper by transforming it into a bedside table.

After: Cute & Functional

Start by removing the wheels and installing new wooden furniture feet. Then prime and paint the cart. Next, remove the doors and decoupage the fronts with decorative paper. Cut a new back for the cart from 1/4-inch plywood and decoupage it with coordinating paper. Add new knobs to the doors and reinstall.

Before: Chair that Fails

With dated fabric and design this chair was in need of a major update. Use pretty fabric and paint to extend the life of a past-its-prime chair.

After: Chair with Flair

After cutting away the decorative top and sanding and painting the chair, recover it with fabric. Here, a simple tan and white chair becomes chic and stylish with a letter "g" embellishment, proving it's the little details that make all the difference.

Before: Out-of-Date

These TV trays looked like they were stuck in a time warp. Turn dated TV trays into modern artwork with the help of a little paint and paper.

After: Tray Chic

Use trendy silhouettes to add style to TV trays. After priming and painting the trays to match your space, print a decorative pattern onto magnetic paper using an ink-jet printer. Trace interesting shapes onto the magnetic paper, cut them out with scissors, and then place the designs on metal trays. The result is a simple, cute design to complement your room's design.

Before: Tired Tin

This old tea tin was full of character and potential, but lacked style and function. Take an old tea tin from drab to dynamite by turning it into a lamp base.

After: Lighten Up

Dip a paper towel in crafts paint and rub the tin until covered. Use a dry paper towel to rub off some of the paint, letting the base show through. When dry, drill a hole in the center of the lid and another in the back of the tin near the bottom. Install a lamp kit from a home improvement or crafts store, following manufacturer's instruction. Top it off with a stylish lampshade.

Before: Fresh-Faced

Totally bare and boring, this shelf was in need of some serious design work. A fresh coat of paint and some creativity yielded style-savvy results.

After: Dolled Up

Make a bookshelf more useful by adding doors for out-of-sight storage. Cut a door panel to fit the bottom of the bookcase and the middle shelf from medium density fiberboard (MDF). Prime and paint the bookcase and door panels. When dry, install the bottom door panel with French hinges, and add the drop-down panel using hinges and chains. Finish with a new pull and knob.

After: Multi-Functional Element

A drop-down shelf is a double-duty addition. The super functional door works as an impromptu desk or a quick-hide door for clutter and accessories.

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