6 Creative Examples Of Repurposing Old Items

old weathered wooden stool with wood shavings across top

If you can see alternate uses for everyday objects, repurposing is for you. Artists do it all the time. They seem to appreciate the world in a way that others do not.

Luckily we can train ourselves to think of smart and creative uses for things we might otherwise take for granted.  

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how people have created new from the old:

1. Index Card Boxes – Old index card boxes or pharmacy drawers – typically metal units with large numbers of very shallow drawers – make perfect places to store loose tea. A friend in Cambridge, Massachusetts who is a tea fanatic, has each drawer neatly labeled with the type of tea it contains. It’s so stylish that it looks like it has always been a feature of her kitchen and she uses this loose tea container many times a day.

Boxes and drawers like these make great storage places for anything small, including sewing materials or nuts, bolts, and nails.  

open decorated recipe cardstock box with colorful patterned paper inside

4 homemade gift tags made from scenery photos attached to brown paper wrapped gift and twine

2. Last Year’s Calendars – The beautiful photographs from last year’s calendar can make great gift tags this year. Simply cut out the photographs with scissors, write the names of the giver and receiver on the back, along with any special message you want to convey, and then tape this to your gift using the corner of the photograph.

Alternately, you could use crafting scissors that create an attractive, patterned edge when you cut rather than straight lines. Using a hole-puncher to make a hole in the corner of your new gift tags would allow you to tie a ribbon to them for some added flair. Tape the ribbon to the gift and you’ll have a very attractive, personalized, and inexpensive gift tag made from an old calendar.

In addition to making gift tags, you could also cut out calendar photos to make great notebook covers, bookmarks, and collage material for children’s projects.

3. Crochet Table Runners – Crochet table runners are popular decorative items, but if you’ve had enough of one consider finding a new use for it rather than throwing it away. Hung on the wall by your mirror, a pretty strip of crocheted material is an ideal place to hang all your earrings in pairs. The many holes, which are the signature style of crochet, are very effective when used for hanging small objects.

Not only will you be able to choose your earrings without digging through a pile to find pairs, but you will also have created an attractive wall hanging.

4 different colored dreamcatchers used as earring holders hanging on wall

homemade chalkboard and bulletin board hanging with jars and purple accented items

4. Old Window Frames – Window frames, especially those with multiple panes of glass separated by wood, make excellent photo frames.

They also look great painted and hung on the wall as decorative items, especially if the wall is papered or patterned.

5. Filing Cabinets – In the digital age, we have less and less paper to store in cabinets. A waist-high filing cabinet can be transformed into a useful kitchen cart in three easy steps. First, repaint the cabinet an attractive color of your choice. Be bold. Then, glue a butcher block or chopping board to the top, making sure that it’s about the same size as the top of the cabinet. Finally, use a drill and screws to attach casters to the four corners of the bottom of the cabinet. When you’re done, you’ll have a rolling kitchen cart, with ample storage for kitchen items.

old filing cabinet made into a blue outdoor barbecue island

dark leather old fashioned suitcase made into cubby cabinet sidetable shelves

6. Old Trunks – Trunks and suitcases make wonderful storage places. Some old trunks can be turned into extraordinary coffee tables with storage space. Vintage trunks make great locations for shoes.

Another great use for old trunks is for sorting and storing items you intend to donate to others.

Repurposing and Donating

Through repurposing and donating, our homes become more open, more spacious, and more fun. The ideas above hopefully got your mental juices flowing.

Make it fun by repurposing items with your spouse and kids. Encouraging children to give away toys and other items they have outgrown, no longer need, or no longer want can help them develop a skill that will be useful for their entire lives. You can even create a reward system for the person who can come up with the most creative uses for unwanted objects around the home!

If none of the alternative uses you brainstorm hit the mark, then there’s always the option to donate. Schedule a free pickup (use button below), which supports veterans of all wars and welcomes donations of toys, clothing, and small household items.