There is something extremely gratifying in taking something you don’t use or that’s unusable and turning it into something great. Furniture DIY projects such as the repurposed dressers in our list below take time and you have to enjoy the process as well as gain tremendous satisfaction with a finished product. It’s not just about the money because the time spent is a lot and you may very well be able to make more money doing something else.
That said, generally you’ll save money repurposing furniture, but it can’t just be economics that motivate you. The bigger picture is that it’s really cool to fill your home with your own projects. Over time, the place becomes truly yours as you enjoy the many items you crafted, repurposed, built, enhanced or refinished.
Growing up my parents were into antiques; they purchased antique furniture that had seen better days and then refinished it themselves. We made many trips to La Connor, WA to a place called Nasty Jacks to buy antiques in need of refurbishing. Over the course of 20 years their home was filled almost entirely of furniture they had refinished.
Moreover, it was really nice furniture. My wife and I have the good fortune of having some of it in our home now. My wife has also put her own stamp on our home refinishing some furniture and it looks great.
It give our home a unique touch; not just filled with the same old furniture everybody else has from the same old furniture stores. The potential is endless. But you have to start somewhere and in this post we feature 11 different types of repurposed dressers.
FYI, “repurposed” means changing something so that it serves a new function. This is distinguished from “refurbished” which is fixing something up but retaining the original purpose. This gallery sets out “repurposed” dressers; not refurbished.
1. Old Dresser Turned into Bench with Storage
Old, junky dressers in need of a facelift or dramatic overhaul are not in short supply. Go to most half-decent garage sales, and chances are there’s an old dresser sitting on the driveway. In my neck of the woods alone there are dozens of dressers for sale for reasonable prices.
This DIY video tutorial shows you how you can durn an old dresser into a storage bench with a twist. Half the dresser is retained (but nicely refurbished). The other half is chopped up a bit to make space for a convenient bench.
This is quite a cool foyer piece.
Watch the video:
2. Dresser Turned into Kitchen Island
Okay, I’m not nuts about the blue, but that’s an insignificant detail. It’s the concept that’s cool. You can paint the finished product whatever you want.
This repurposed dresser into kitchen island cost a whopping $175. That’s not bad for something so functional and potentially aesthetically pleasing in your kitchen.
Check out how to do it… watch the video:
3. Old Dresser Turned into Shelves
This is a great way to add storage to your closet. However, it need not be placed in a closet. Your new shelf from old dresser could be placed anywhere.
You can never have enough storage. This particular transformation simply required removing drawers and adding some paint. It didn’t require structural changes, which makes turning a dresser into a shelf not an onerous project.
That said, there are a series of steps involved. Read more…
4. Dresser Turned into Bathroom Vanity
This type of project takes more work as you change the dresser structurally, especially the top to accommodate the sink. This is one of my favorites on this page because you can’t get more useful than a vanity which is used daily. I also think it looks fabulous.
After all, you have to admit that some DIY projects, while cool and fun to do, don’t result in the best looking stuff. That’s not the case here. Not only do you get a sink, but it comes with built-in storage via the lower two drawers.
As a tall person, I really appreciate the height of this vanity, although you may in some cases need to lower a dresser so that your vanity accommodates most people. The standard height for a bathroom vanity is 32″. Since this particular project is somewhat involved, you’ll want to check out the various steps.
5. Dresser Drawers Turned Into Floating Wall Shelves
Here’s a super clever way to get more use out of an old dresser. Most repurposed dresser projects focus on the main dresser structure, but here’s an example of how you can use the drawers. While I’m not nuts about the print outside and inside, the concept is wicked smart.
Painted white or some singular color would look amazing and these floating shelves could be placed anywhere. Moreover, this is a super simple DIY project that wouldn’t take all that long to complete. Floating shelves aren’t all that cheap so this is actually one of those economical DIY projects where a little time results in something very useful.
6. Old Dresser Turned into Handsome Living Room Console Table
Wow! Just look at that transformation. I’ll take the refinished furniture item over the original any day of the week. I think most living rooms or family rooms would be enhanced with that console table/shelving unit.
It could also be used as TV stand. Opening up the middle row of shelves was super smart giving it the contemporary style it has. Of course the dark paint makes it look great too.
The takeaway here I think is how removing some of the drawers in an old dresser can really transform it into something. You simply need to add a shelf where the drawers were, but that’s not an impossible task. Once that’s done, it’s a matter of new hardware fixtures (i.e. knobs) and a paint job.
Speaking of hardware fixtures, that’s another key takeaway here; notice how the new fixtures really make a big difference. Fortunately their inexpensive and relatively easy to put on.
7. Dresser Turned into an Amazing Bench
This is a very polished repurposed dresser. It doesn’t look junky; in fact, the finished project is one you’d be happy to pay a lot of money for in any furniture store. This bench would look great in a foyer, mudroom, play room, kids bedroom and even a family room.
This project involves a good number of steps since it’s hacking up the original dresser quite a bit. Once the structure is changed into the bench skeleton, it’s time to paint it and you’re done. I like that the finished project is painted white.
One change I would make is updated hardware on the drawers, but other than that it’s fabulous. One brilliant aspect of this project is the beadboard effect on the back of the bench. It gives it some texture and makes it much more interesting than if it were flat.
8. Dresser Turned into Foyer Wall Table
And yet we feature another very clever dresser that is turned into a foyer console table. This was done mainly by adding legs to the dresser. Other than that the dresser remains untouched except for a paint job, which is done in a distressed manner.
I’m not wild about the distressed look, but it fits in farmhouse, rustic and cottage interior design styles. I think the choice of legs added is perfect; you have to glance twice at it to see that it was once a dresser. It’s a smart repurposing.
Takeaway: Adding legs to a dresser changes it into another type of furniture piece altogether. The sky is the limit here… think kitchen island or living room console table or go with the original idea and create a foyer console table.
9. Dresser Turned into Kitchen Island
Well, this is a no-brainer, isn’t it? I mean who doesn’t want a kitchen island if you don’t have one? If you have the space and clearance in your kitchen, transforming a dresser into a kitchen island is a brilliant idea.
This type of project isn’t for the faint of heart though. There are several steps which include adding a kitchen-friendly top. Aside from installing a new top, the dresser is the ideal piece of furniture to turn into a kitchen island because it already has the storage you seek if you don’t mind drawer-style storage.
One thing to look for when selecting a dresser is getting one that’s fairly tall. The standard kitchen island height is 36 inches. Of course you can veer from that a bit, but you don’t want to veer too much because you don’t want to hunch over when working in the kitchen, nor do you want to have to use a step-stool.
10. Dresser Turned into a Desk
The brilliance continues. I have to admit I’m really enjoying putting together this DIY post because I’m completely blown away by the ingenuity of what people do with old dressers. This example is no exception. Of course a desk is a brilliant idea for an old dresser.
I’m a huge fan of desks since I work at home as well as have my own office downtown. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a dresser to turn into a desk is to ensure that it’s the right height. Standard desk height is 28″ to 30″ for people up to 5′ 10″.
If taller, you may want the dresser to be taller. If you have a shorter dresser, an easy solution is to add legs. Since it’s your desk, you can make it as short or tall as you like.
This particular example requires some chopping up of the original dresser. If the dresser is wide enough, you could end up with drawers on both sides, but you definitely want sufficient room for your legs.
11. Dresser Turned into Baby Changing Table
My wife and I are almost past the diaper stage. We have a 21 month old to whom we’re introducing the potty. Hopefully the little guy figure it out quickly and so we can be done with diapers and changing tables. We have 2 kids and so a changing table has been part of our lives for several years.
If you’re just starting your family, your choice of changing table is an important one. But, like the example here, there’s no reason you can’t convert a dresser into a changing table. You’ll love all the drawer space because you can never have enough storage for babies and kids.
One thing I would change with this project is simply adding short edge/wall/guardrail around the perimeter of the top providing an extra bit of safety for baby while on top. Some babies move a lot and you’d hate for the changing pad to slip off the top. Even when you’re there 100% of the time, squirmy babies can surprise you.
But that’s easily added; the problem is it’s a more permanent change and so your dresser will forever become a changing table. With respect to the quality of the finished project, it’s amazing. The yellow is a good color choice for a nursery, which is fun to decorate in bright colors.
Like other repurposed dressers above, this example includes new hardware fixtures, which makes a big difference.
2 Tips on dresser size:
- First, is height. You want the dresser tall enough so you’re not hunched over. 36″ in height, or thereabouts will do.
- Second is depth: Changing pads are 16″ to 17″ deep, so your dresser should be at least that deep. Ours is deeper, which is super handy for placing other items on top such as diapers, wipes, etc.
Another tip is once your baby starts crawling, you’ll want to be able to secure it to the wall. We used steel brackets for most furniture. It kinda ruins the furniture, but we don’t care.
We have boys who pull on everything and so we opted for secure and if the furniture is ruined, so be it. Because safety is paramount with changing tables, other dresser choice considerations should be same for the main considerations when buying a changing table.
12. Dresser Turned into Basket Storage
When you need to get organized, basket storage can be the perfect solution. This dresser converted into basket storage is ideal for a playroom, sewing room, craft room or even garage. You can label your baskets and end up with a place for everything and everything in its place.
I love easy organization. The heavy lifting here is adding shelves to each row. Once that’s done, paint it up and go buy your baskets and organize your heart out.
Choice of basket will make a big difference to the appearance. Imagine the above with wicker baskets. While wicker baskets look better, they aren’t conducive to labels so if it’s labels you want, plastic baskets are the way to go.
It all depends on what you’ll use it for.
Here are some basket ideas:
1. Wicker Baskets
2. Foldable Fabric Baskets
3. Wicker with Fabric Inset
4. Plastic Baskets
5. Metal Baskets
13. Dresser Turned into Bookcase
Here’s an interest twist on repurposed dressers. This uses the drawers only, stacking them like blocks to create a bookcase. Super smart and not terribly difficult.
While I’m not wild about the pattern or color, the concept is great and is one I’d love to do. Once you figure out your configuration, you attach the drawers together securely and voila, you have a bookcase. You may probably want to secure this to the wall with brackets because I doubt it’s all that stable on its own, but that’s good practice for any bookcase.
Falling bookcases can be deadly.
Wrapping it Up
You have two approaches when repurposing a dresser.
- Existing dresser: If you have an existing dresser, you have to choose something that will work with that particular dresser.
- Buy dresser for specific project: If you have an end-product in mind, you can go out and look for a dresser that meets your needs.
Essentially it’s dimensions that are important since some furniture has standard heights and depths.