10 Ways to Make Cinder Block Furniture (That Doesn't Look Totally Terrible)

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Cinder block furniture is something we tend to associate with college apartments, along with inflatable furniture and futons and cheap reproductions of Van Gogh's The Starry Night. But cinder blocks have two chief advantages over other building materials: 1. they're cheap, and 2. they're really cheap. Plus, you don't really need to nail them or drill them or any other such thing, because they're so heavy they'll stay in place all on their own. And the best news of all is that cinder block furniture doesn't have to look terrible. Really. Check out these ten examples:

P.S. We've written in the past about clever ways to use cinder blocks outside, so in this post, we're focusing on DIYs for inside the house.

Pictured above: different sizes of cinder blocks, stacked together, make for a stylish nightstand in a tiny Manhattan apartment with a modern feel from Dwell. The clip-on lamp is a nice finishing touch, and complements the industrial vibe of the cinder blocks.

This shelving unit reads 'industrial chic' rather than 'cash-strapped college student' because of a few simple design choices. The shelves extend just a bit beyond the cinder blocks in the front, while cantilevering out uniformly at the sides, and turning the blocks so that the holes are concealed when you look at the piece straight on gives it a more finished look.

(This photo is from a home designed by CSS Architecture: if you click the link, you can see the shelving unit from a few more different angles.)

This media center (from the home of photographer Larnie Nicolson) takes a different approach. For a look that's more casual but still not sloppy, the shelves are cut to just the right size to be flush with the cinder blocks, and adding an extra shelf on the bottom, although not strictly necessary, ties the whole thing together and gives it more of the feel of traditional furniture. We love the idea of embracing the shapes on the cinder blocks by using them to display treasured objects.

We love the idea of painting the inside of cinder blocks to add a little pop of color. These guys (spotted on 1001 Gardens) are outside, but this idea would work just as well with any of the interior furniture combinations pictured here.

Who would've thought? This cinder block platform bed looks surprisingly chic in a minimalist bedroom β€” and far more comfortable than you would imagine from a bed made of concrete. Spotted on Designtripper.

Here's another variation on the theme β€” this bed looks to be made from a wooden platform propped up on cinder blocks. These clever homeowners have used the voids in the cinder blocks to store shoes. Spotted on Design Sponge.

We love the look of a long, low shelf for storing books and resting artwork on. It provides a place to stash your stuff, but still leaves the wall above free and the room feeling nice and spacious. If you're unable to mount a shelf to the wall, why not use cinder blocks to create something similar, like Emma Dime did in her London studio?

Here's another little nightstand, spotted in Sophie & Isaac's Eclectic Minimal Home. The rough concrete blocks and thick wooden shelves fit in nicely with the room's minimal, modern feel.

Okay, you may be asking β€” where are the cinder blocks in this picture? Enterprising homeowners Alexis and Brooks came up with a clever solution for making good-looking furniture on the cheap: disguising the cinderblocks entirely. Here's how they did it:

To make it not look so makeshift, we stained the planks, and covered the cinderblocks with foam board covered with a graphic fabric. Most people assume the shelves are built-ins, so we love to show them the hidden cinder blocks.

This shelving unit (from the book Marrakesh by Design, via Houzz) keeps things interesting with cinder blocks with a decorative pattern. While we weren't able to hunt down this particular variety (anybody know where to find these?), we found these two decorative styles available at Home Depot. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Re-edited from a post originally published on 6.30.2014 - cm

(Image credits: Dwell; CSS Architecture; New Zealand Design Blog; 1001 Gardens; Designtripper; Design Sponge; Emma Dime; Bethany Nauert; Monica Wang; Houzz)