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How to Breathe Life into Old Household Items

reupholster_chair - old household itemsWe sometimes shop around for items we think we need when we have exactly what we want lying around the house. Rather than buying something new, think of how you could give your old household items new life! Who knew recycling could be so fun?

Here are just a couple of project ideas to save you money by refurbishing what you already own.

Refurbish a Dresser

If you need a new dresser or chest of drawers, look around your house or on sites like Craigslist before you shop for a brand new piece of furniture. You may find a dresser that looks bad on the outside, but is well-built and easy to refurbish!

  • The first thing you should do is make sure your dresser is clean, especially if you picked it up at a yard sale, Craigslist or even on the side of the road! Scrub it down, take the drawers out and make sure you actually want to put things in the dresser.
  • If the dresser is painted, you should strip the paint next. You can buy paint stripper in a spray can to make your work a little bit easier.
  • Once the dresser is stripped of its paint, sand it down. You can use an electric sander or sand paper: Just make sure you choose the right type of sander for your project.
  • Next, choose the color you would like to paint your dresser. Prime the wood, let it dry, and paint it the color you want.
  • Finally, choose some new hardware for your dresser and reassemble it!

Safety Tips: When you use paint stripper, be sure to use gloves to protect your skin. Also, use the product outside, for good ventilation. As you sand down your dresser, wear goggles to protect your eyes from dust and debris.

Reupholster a Chair

Chairs can be fairly cheap and simple to reupholster. For this project, you’re simply modernizing an office or dining room chair. It’s easy to do!

  • First, you will need to gather your supplies. Once you have your chair, you should buy two-inch-thick foam to create a new seat cushion. You will also need fabric, a staple gun, staples and a knife.
  • Remove the seat from the chair.
  • Measure the dimensions of your chair and using those numbers, cut your fabric and foam to size.
  • Next, layer your supplies so you can staple the foam and fabric to the seat of the chair. Lay your fabric down first, center the foam on top of the fabric and center the seat on top of the foam. Use your yardstick to make sure you center everything accurately.
  • Working one side at a time, fold the fabric up and over the side of the seat. Starting in the center of the edge of the fabric, staple it to the seat. Keep a couple inches of space between each staple.
  • Once you’re done stapling your fabric and foam, reattach your chair seat to the chair.

Safety tips: You’ll use your knife to cut the foam to size. Cut away from yourself and use one smooth motion, rather than cutting the foam little pieces at a time.

Refinish a Bike

Do you have an old bike that maybe spent one too many times out in the rain? You can easily refurbish it if you have the right materials. It doesn’t have to be expensive either!

  • First, you will disassemble your bike. Take pictures so you know how to put it back together!
  • Tape the areas of the bike you don’t want to paint and sand down the parts you do want to paint.
  • The easiest way to paint a bike is powder coating. This can be done by a professional. Powder coating will add paint color quickly. After the paint is applied, the bike frame will be baked in a special “oven.” This whole process protects your bike from rust, dents and scratches.
  • Once your bike frame is painted, cured and cooled off, stash it in a dry location to keep it looking nice.

Safety Tips: As you sand down your bike, be sure to wear a mask. You don’t want to swallow metal!

Don’t be afraid to tackle these projects. By revitalizing old items you are preventing it from taking up space in a landfill. Refurbish old household items and have fun finding a new place in your home for them!


Megan Nichols enjoys discussing environmental issues and other scientific discoveries on her blog, Schooled by Science.



Megan Ray Nichols
Freelance Writer

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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