9 Ordinary Decor Items You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Repurpose, According to Interior Designers

updated Apr 14, 2021
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Credit: Reid Rolls

Make no mistake about it: adversely impacts the environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generated a total of 292.4 million tons of trash in 2018, which equates to an average of about five pounds per person every day. 

Sadly, the bulk of our trash usually winds up in a landfill, where it decomposes and over time and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the air. That’s why it’s so important to repurpose and reuse home items whenever possible, which can help slow the effects of global warming and sustain the environment for future generations.

Good news: There are all sorts of furniture and decor accents that can be repurposed around the home; it just takes a little imagination. From console tables transformed into bathroom sink cabinets to blanket boxes turned into side tables and more, these nine unexpected items might have never crossed your mind as things to creatively reuse, but designers made them work, and you can, too.

Credit: Linda Allen Designs

Console tables

If you thought console tables were solely reserved for living rooms and entryways, then you’d be mistaken. In a recent project, interior designer Linda Allen of Linda Allen Designs repurposed a vintage Moroccan console table into a stylish sink cabinet. “I’ve always enjoyed how cool spaces can end up by repurposing items,” she says. Any console with cabinet or shelf storage would make for a great bathroom vanity; just be sure the material is suited to withstand a humid environment and the occasional splash of water.

Credit: Marika Meyer

Secretary desks

If you’re sitting on an old secretary desk at home, interior designer Marika Meyer of Marika Meyer Interiors says you can remake it into a sleek storage cabinet with nothing more than a new coat of paint. “It is so easy to update a vintage secretary with a coat of fresh paint and some detailing,” she explains. “There are so many beautiful pieces out there that might just need a little refresh to be right at home again.” Push one of these guys into a corner and pull up a chair, and you’ve got a readymade WFH nook, too.

Credit: Rebecca Hay Designs

Blanket boxes

Believe it or not, interior designer Rebecca Hay of Rebecca Hay Designs says a few empty blanket boxes can moonlight as side tables for small spaces, like the one she created in a recent client’s home above. “Some pieces have an emotional connection,” she explains.  “Rather than throwing them out because they don’t fit in your new space and design, consider repurposing them so that they can continue living in your home and creating more history.” You could also try a stack of vintage suitcases or crates in this same configuration. Not only do you get a unique, one-of-a-kind end table or nightstand, but you also get space to store whatever items you’d like to keep handy in this spot.

Credit: Heather Hawkins courtesy of Studio Ten 25


Don’t let the worn finish of an outdated bookshelf fool you. Interior designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25 says with a little TLC, you can turn an old bookscase into a sleek and sophisticated sideboard-inspired storage shelf, just like she did in the above photo. “This bookshelf was a dingy yellow color and was collecting dust in the garage,” she says. “We gave it a fresh coat of white paint with a gold detail on the edges, acrylic hardware, and repurposed it as a display shelf in our client’s dining room, since the space wasn’t large enough to add a full-sized sideboard.”

Credit: Linda Allen Designs

Pendant lights

Before you throw out a good-looking pendant light that no longer works, Allen suggests transforming it into a one-of-a-kind lamp shade. In a recent project, Allen did just that, using her imagination to turn an antique metal pendant light upside down to create a custom lampshade for a client. “Yes, the shade is simply an upside down light fixture,” she explains.

Credit: Rebecca Hay Designs


For a cool coffee table setup that supplies ample storage opportunities, Hay says to look no further than an old trunk. “Oftentimes the quality of older items is better than new,” she explains. “You can take an old but solidly-built storage trunk and simply refinish it to give it an updated look.” Trunks are also great options for end of bed storage, too.

Credit: Isabel Ladd Interiors

Leftover lumber

If you’re stuck with some unused lumber from a home DIY project, interior designer Isabel Ladd of Isabel Ladd Interiors says you can turn it into a wall-mounted storage display in no time. “You can take wood leftover from a construction project and repurpose it into a shelf to hold baseball gear or other hangable items,” she explains. “Just notch out pieces to hold baseball bats and groove lines to keep balls from sliding off.” 

Credit: Becky Shea Design


If you’re under the impression that dressers are only good for stashing clothing items, then interior designer Becky Shea of Becky Shea Design says to think again. “I love using dressers as media storage because they can corral everything from blankets and books to gaming systems,” she explains. “This is a great way to make a storage solution shine in a room it’s typically not intended for.”

Credit: Rebecca Hay Designs

Chest of drawers

For a storage-friendly bedside setup that doesn’t skimp on style, Hay recommends employing a used chest of drawers in lieu of a traditional nightstand. “I love the look of mismatched nightstands and using an old chest of drawers on one side,” she explains. “It gives you loads of surface area for a lamp and your bedtime reading.”