As we go throughout our daily lives, we tend to acquire things. A few new outfits here, new electronic devices, maybe even some new furniture and these things clutter up our homes and cause us to spend too much money. One good way to simplify your life and keep yourself from getting into debt is to start asking yourself practical questions like, “Do I really need that or do I just want it?”
Another good question is, “Is there something cheaper I can buy that will work just as well?” For example, according to debtconsolidation.com, Americans spent $10.7 trillion on shopping in 2011. Many of those items could have just as been easily acquired at a much lower cost, or even free through websites like Craig’s List or The Freecycle Network. And, of course, there are always plenty of wonderful treasures waiting to be found at yard sales and thrift shops.
Last, but not least, a really fun question is, “Can I reuse something I already have?” That’s where creative repurposing comes in handy. If you use your imagination and a little handiwork, there are plenty of great ways you can find new uses for old items instead of throwing them away.
Finding New Uses for Old Furniture
Buying new furniture is expensive, but you can turn old items that you already have or thrifty finds into something new inexpensively. Plus, upscaling something old and shabby by making it look great again feels incredibly rewarding. Here are some furniture ideas to consider.
- Long, slim dressers make ideal kitchen islands. Splash on some paint and a faux granite top if you’d like to have a handy kitchen island that you can use for extra counter space. Another good idea is to add some simple hooks on the side so that you can hang utensils.
- You can also turn old dressers into fashionable bathroom vanities, although you may need someone with plumbing experience to help install the sink properly.
- If you have a baby crib that you no longer need, you can turn it into a fantastic child’s desk. First, remove the door side. Secure the mattress base with some particle board and add stick-on hooks to hang things. Paint the particle board with chalkboard paint and the desk is perfect for kids to doodle or do crafts.
- With some chalkboard paint, you can turn an old coffee table into a toddler desk as well, especially if it has little drawers they can store things in!
- Old bookshelves and bookcases can be used for many things. Small bookshelves can be used as kitchen spice holders. For large bookcases, you can take the shelves out, add a tension rod, and create a miniature closet. Other ideas include creating a plant shelf, adding under-cabinet glass and bottle racks to make a wine cabinet.
- If your old dresser or nightstand is shot and there is no hope for it, you can still add small wheels to one or two of the drawers to create a roll-under-the-bed storage container to store clothes or items that you don’t use frequently.
Repurposing Other Household Items
Finding ways to reuse furniture is great, but what about some of the other stuff you have lying around the house? Well, there are plenty of ways to breathe new life into other items as well. Here are some more suggestions to help cut down your waste and create new, useful items for your home.
- Many people have legitimate reasons for needing to upgrade their laptop computers to keep up with software programs, even though their old ones are still functional. There are more than a few great uses for old laptops, but one of the most decorative is to make a digital picture frame out of one.
- When the coffee pot dies, you can still get use out of it by turning into a funky fish tank. Remove as much of the internal electrical components as you can so you can use the inside for storage space, add some gravel to the pot and small decorations if you wish, fill the pot with water—it makes a great goldfish bowl.
- Okay, not many people have old file cabinets lying around the house, but companies going out of business often give them away for free. You can repaint an old file cabinet, add some new knobs, and easily turn it into a handy dresser.
- Making quilts is a great Amish tradition, and the perfect use for old clothes that you no longer want or need. Other good variations of this idea that may be easier if you’re not up to quilting are making pillowcase covers or adding some stuffing and making small throw pillows for your chairs.
- Old cans can be reused too. Small tuna cans usually work best, but you can take any can with the top removed, file the sharp edges off with a metal file, clean them thoroughly, and use them as small organizers for things like paperclips or thumbtacks instead of buying desk organizers or plastic containers.
- Believe it or not, you can even reuse all those plastic bags that you get from the grocery store by making baskets out of them! It does take some sewing and cutting, but you can keep those bags out of landfills and create small baskets that are good for many purposes. Good tip: Use lots of multi-colored bags to make them more attractive.
Even little savings add up over time. There are so many different ways to repurpose things around the house that it is beyond the scope of any one article to cover them all. The two most important things are to be creative and to have fun with your projects. You don’t always have to run out the store to buy something just to have a rich lifestyle; you can often find things you need that are already at home. <click to tweet>
If you come up with a great idea for repurposing household items, leave a comment below.
About the Author: Tony Standin and his wife work hard to live a frugal life while repurposing as much as possible. Tony is also a personal finance specialist who enjoys helping others learn to spend less while enjoying life more!