It’s a thrill to turn something destined for the dump into a thing of beauty.
Maybe you already repurpose pieces or you want to start doing it. You could be repurposing for your own home or trying to sell repurposed pieces to add some income for your family.
I’m going to share some thoughts about where to find pieces to repurpose but let’s first talk a little about some principles of good pieces to repurpose.
One, make sure it had good bones.
Don’t waste your time on pieces too far gone or made of cheap material, like particleboard. My only exception to the rule is if you want something to practice on.
Two, don’t ruin perfectly good antiques.
I’m fine with repurposing antiques that are broken or will take a huge amount of effort to bring back to pristine condition. I repurposed a piano into a wine bar a couple of years ago, but the sounding board was warped from being accidentally left in the rain. I can’t bring myself to repurpose a beautiful old piano that just needs to be tuned or cleaned up a bit.
Three, keep in mind the size of the piece.
You must think about storage and how you’re going to work on the piece. Where will you work on it? Do you need more than one person to move it? Is your vehicle big enough to get it home or deliver it once it’s complete?
Four, always be on the lookout for smaller or partial pieces that can be combined.
For the longest time, I had a picture on my office wall where there was a console that had a shelf attached to the top of it. They were made of different kinds of wood and I’d like to make something like this someday.
Five, keep an inventory of leftover wood and pieces you can add to other pieces.
I have a variety of pieces of wood and parts on my garage shelves. I took apart a piano last year so I have all these pieces of brass and metal that I’d love to use. I’m also hoping to use old piano keys and hammers for small pieces of art or things like keyholders.
Okay, enough of that. Here are the places where I find the pieces I repurpose:
I start by looking in the Free section. The problem is you’re dealing with a whole metro area most of the time unless you narrow the search to the town you live in. But there is more competition, too, with other repurposers. You can set up an alert for the types of pieces you’re interested in, so you don’t get scooped by someone else.
If you’re a Nextdoor member you can look for free stuff in their For Sale area. I’ve found some things over the year. It takes a little creativity but there is less competition than Craig’s List. I have a couple of large boxes of pieces of walnut that I’m sitting on that I got from a guy about a mile from me. The good news is that you normally don’t have to drive to the other side of town to pick up stuff.
By the Side of the Road
On garbage day or the weekend, people will put out things that will go to the dump. In our neighborhood, people will put out things with a sign that says “Free”. Sometimes you must be bold and not worry what people think of you.
Friends or Family
Ask your friends and family on Facebook if they are trying to get rid of what you are looking for. Be specific about the type of things that you are trying to repurpose. Often you can get them for free.
The repurposed coffee bar in my living room is an old armoire some friends had in their storage unit. They were happy to free up some space, as well as see it converted to a showstopper.
Your Garage or Basement
You don’t have to search further than your home. Look in your garage or basement to see if there’s anything you’re not using that could be upcycled.
Here’s another thought: You could even use something you currently have in your living you don’t really love. Maybe it could be repainted or refinished.
Minimalism is getting a lot of press these days and removing things from your living area feels like a breath of fresh air. You should have things around you that you love. If not, repurpose and sell.
Yard Sales & Estate Sales
Once the warmer days come around, head out to the yard sales. You’re likely to get good deals if you can get to them early. Estate sales can be good, too, but they tend to have higher prices. Try for the second or third days when the prices are cheaper, and the estate salespeople are eager to get rid of stuff. Try to bundle so you can get the most bang for your buck.
I previewed an estate sale recently and bought an old trunk for $82 that I’m trying right now to sell for $250 after a good cleaning, semi-gloss polyurethane, and some hairpin legs to turn it into a coffee table.
I’m also going to go by at the end of the sale next week to bundle a bunch of things that I wanted but didn’t want to pay the retail price for.
I know there are other places to buy stuff, but this is where you’ll find 90 percent of the things you can repurpose into things to sell or use in your own home. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Save as much as you can. And don’t overspend on things you can’t make a good buck.