Trash to Treasure Furniture Makeover

by Diane Henkler on 06/16/2010

I am one of those people who is not afraid to stop my car on the side of the road to pick up other peoples cast-offs.  I enjoy the process of a good trash to treasure furniture makeover.   I find the hunt very adventuresome and love transforming my finds into functional pieces.  Best of all – it doesn’t cost me a thing.

I found this hollowed out dresser in a field on the way to the supermarket.   Lovely, isn’t she?  She has nice lines.  I saw potential.


Trash to Treasure Decorating

The transformation begins with a trip to the dollar store for 17 white plastic baskets.  I would have loved wicker baskets, but 17 of them would be a bit pricey for my budget.

White Organizing Baskets

Also needed:   my computer, printer, and card-stock to make some labels.  I  chose a font size that would fit in the label holders I found years ago.  I cut out a piece of acetate from a transparency sheet to use as my see-thru cutting template.

Transparency template cutting guide

Vintage looking label holders and labels I made.  If you don’t have any label holders you can see my post on how-to make wipe-off labels.

label made on computer

I used a pair of pliers to attach a label holder to the front of each basket.

metal label holder

I cut plywood to fit into the hollow dresser to create shelves.  There were 8 sections and a small lip where the drawers used to be that I screwed each piece of plywood into.  I then gave it a coat of white paint.  This is a rough piece.  Even after sanding and buffing the front edges still looked raw with the plywood and screws showing.

Before and After Furniture Makeovers

I cleaned it up as best I could and figured it is going to go in my mudroom so it doesn’t have to look perfect, just functional.  Lots of sanding needed.

Before and After Furniture Makeovers


Trash to Treasure Decorating: After

Trash to Treasure Decorating Before and After Furniture Makeover for Mudrooms

I also bought white thumb tacks at the Dollar Store and used two different colors of ribbon from my stash to hide the  ugly front edge of the dresser.   I measured the ribbon and placed the purple on top of a wider white grosgrain.  I attached the ribbon to the dresser with the thumb tacks.  I think I am going to add more tacks, so it looks like nail-head trim, but I ran out.  I will need to take another trip to the Dollar Store to get more.

ribbon and tack detail on trash to treasure

ribbon and tack detailing

This dresser sees a lot of action as it is right in the door from our garage where we enter the house.   It is where we place keys, mail, library books, handbags, backpacks, etc.  I have the baskets labeled – Sunglasses, Goggles, Sunscreen, Mittens, Hats…the things we use on a daily basis that I want easily accessible, but I don’t want to see laying around.

After Trash to Treasure dresser

dollar store basket organizing

Decorating with the dollar store

I love how it came out.  Not too bad for something I found on the side of the road.

Trash to Treasure After


Budget Furniture Makeover


{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda @ A La Carte June 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

What a great way to use something someone threw away. I love how it turned out and I would love something like that with all the baskets for my napkins and linens I use for tablescaping. Great idea!


2 Melanie June 17, 2010 at 1:58 am

This is AMAZING!!! You have a very creative eye to get that from an empty dresser in a field! Thoroughly impressed. I wish I had space where we enter the house to put something like that, it’s always a pile of stuff just inside the kitchen. Well, nice job:)


3 Suzanne June 17, 2010 at 2:00 am

Fabulous redo. What a great place to store your stash!


4 Beth June 17, 2010 at 3:20 am

That is an amazing transformation! Awesome storage potential!


5 MHills June 17, 2010 at 8:09 am

Absolutely Amazing…. That is just fabulous. It looks to pretty.


6 mindy June 17, 2010 at 9:32 am

You are awesome! That looks wonderful. What a wonderful thing to have in a craft room. PLUS, you reused trash and made the world a bit prettier.


7 Diane June 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Hi Mindy-
M favorite projects are the ones that I re-use, re-purpose, or re-cycle. I love coming up with attractive, yet functional ideas with trash and cast-offs – and as you mentioned making the world a bit prettier at the same time.


8 Rondell June 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

This is just wonderful, what a great idea, you could even do this in any room of the house! I’m now a follower, now I have to go check out some of your other projects that you have done!



9 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions June 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

What a great piece! I like it with the tacks you have on there now. It looks like you even have room to add a few more baskets. Great vision!


10 Becky - Clean Mama June 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

Great redo! I love the ribbon :)


11 PeaceLoveTerri June 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

Fabulous, fabulous job! I love it!


12 Going Jane June 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

I love all the storage! What a great find! :) Stopping by from HOH


13 Elle Sees June 17, 2010 at 11:58 am

WOW! So creative.


14 Yanet June 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Great job! It’s just amazing what can be done with Dollar Store stuff (and A LOT of imagination). Love the vintage lables.


15 Amanda@The Hand Me Down House June 17, 2010 at 1:22 pm

This is SUCH a wonderful idea! Great thinking! I absolutely adore the purple ribbon on the front — it almost makes the whole thing! Ingenious!


16 Diane June 17, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Hi Amanda-

My original plan was just to paint the dresser, but the edges would not get smooth. I came up with the ribbon as a “fix” to hide the rough front and it turned out to be a great finishing detail. Sometimes the best ideas happen when you least expect them.


17 Autumn@The Fickle Hobbyist June 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Oh my word, I LOVE this!! I kind of want one in my craft room now. What a fabulous transformation.


18 Amanda June 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm

This turned out really great! What a good idea!


19 Lisa June 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm

It looks great! What a cute idea to reuse something someone threw away! Can I ask where you got the label holders? I’ve been looking for some like that.


20 Diane June 17, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Hi Lisa-

I got them some time ago, but I think it was at Ikea. They came in packs and were very inexpensive. There is a catalog/ website – Van Dykes Restorers. The carrry items needed to restore furniture and they carry similar ones- you may want to check it out.


21 krista@thegatheringplacedesign June 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Wow! Love this! Good thinking with the dresser and those labels are so cute! I am looking for good storage ispiration…thanks:)


22 Teena June 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I really like this idea, it would go great in my craft room! Happy Transformation Thursday <3


23 Heather June 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Wow! You had to have some vision for this one and you certainly made it a show-stopper! I love all of the organization! Well done and it looks fabulous!


24 erin k June 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm

you are my freakn’ hero! i have been threating to throw my son’s (found on the side of the road) dresser out the window for months. i HATE the thing. the drawers all stick and the bottoms are busted out of 2 of them ….. i am seriously doing this. TOMORROW!



25 Katie June 18, 2010 at 12:29 am

Wow – what a great transformation and SO frugal – I LOVE it and it’s right down my alley. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!


26 Donna Hollingsworth, RN June 18, 2010 at 12:34 am

Love it!!!!! So creative and inspiring!!


27 Sue June 18, 2010 at 12:57 am

WOW! What an amazing transformation!!! Beautiful!!


28 Connie June 18, 2010 at 1:41 am

Brilliant and very frugal. Nobody would ever guess that you bought those baskets at the Dollar Store.


29 Kathy June 18, 2010 at 4:29 am

I’m super impressed, turn out great and frugal!


30 Tricia Anne June 18, 2010 at 6:55 am

That is so clever and cute!


31 Marilyn B. Hughes June 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

WONDERFUL! You did an awesome job. Congrats.



32 xinme June 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

You did an amazing job! My husband and I both love re-purposing other people’s cast-offs:) After all, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!”

Just a mini-suggestion based on our experiences with a similar set-up — you might want to consider putting felt pads on the bottom of your baskets so all the sliding back and forth doesn’t wreck the paint on the shelf :)

Just a thought that you may have already had yourself — I just didn’t notice that detail in your description above.


33 Diane June 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thanks for the great tip! I have felt pads on my furniture – so it makes total sense to do this on the baskets.


34 Kim Johnson Gross June 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

I LOVE what you did with the dresser. You are incredibly creative. What an inspiration!


35 Cara June 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I love it — what a great way to transform someone else’s castoffs into a functional organizational tool. Great job!


36 Ann June 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Most excellent project and totally do-able! I’ll be looking at those horrible thrift store dressers in a new light thanks to you.


37 Kimm at REINVENTED June 18, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Looks great, I wish I had the space for something like that in my mudroom! Love the labels on the baskets. This would be a great project for my weekly linky party “Trash to Treasure Tuesday”!


38 Rachelle S. June 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

This is great! I have so many projects like this that I need to do! You did a great job with this!


39 ashley June 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

What an amazing transformation! This is so practical and useful in so many ways.

come link up with my link party at Fabulous Finds Friday. This is def a fabulous find in my books!



40 Linda@Coastal Charm June 18, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Well…this is one “COOL” curbside treasure! Luv the idea you had for her…also luv those shutters! Hop over and show her off at my NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAYS PARTY…hope to see her there:) Hope you have a FUN weekend!



41 Haley Davis June 19, 2010 at 1:05 am

Serves it’s purpose and looks fabulous too!! I think we ALL stop on the side of the road and get other people’s trash! LOL You did a great job!


42 Stephanie Cameron June 19, 2010 at 1:51 am

Wow! great job seeing potential in that! I’m glad you found some baskets that fit!!


43 randee June 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

that is such a great idea. it’s a lot easier to pull out a basket than a heavy drawer, too.

love your blog. it’s my first time here.


44 Katie June 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

It looks great! Love the addition of the purple ribbon!


45 Diane June 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I do love the color purple – all shades of it as an accent color. I even thought about using a different color on each shelf to match the shutters behind the dresser, but didn’t have the right colors on hand.


46 shelly@familyblt June 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

What a great idea! I have an old dresser I might try to do something similar with! Visiting from funky junk interiors :)


47 Julie June 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

This is GENIUS! Great job.

Thank you for linking up to Fab Friday this week.


48 Joy June 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

What a great find ! You’re so creative, I love what you did with it and adding the basket is so cute.


49 Julia June 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Such a great idea! I was just planning on doing something similar. Thanks for the great tips:).


50 Queen June 19, 2010 at 9:41 pm

WOW! Love what you have done with your space! I especially love the way you transformed the cabinets from oak to white and the armoire is to die for!
Queen Bee Studio


51 Cat@BudgetBlonde June 19, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Great idea! I absolutely love it – especially the vintagey label holders!!!


52 Sydney @memorableminutes June 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I love this. I long to have the space where I can pick up treasures like this and actually have a spot where I know I can use them, especially something like this that helps organize, because i try so hard to be a minimalist and conceal things, but when you are a creative type it is SO difficult. I’m saving this idea!


53 sara June 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm

that looks FABULOUS!


54 Mindi June 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I love this! I’m not handy or creative really but I’m so going to do it!


55 Candee June 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

LUV THIS!!!! I have an old dresser in my basement with some damage to the drawers and I had NO idea what to do with it……until now!!! Thank you for the awesome idea.


56 suzyq - atthefarmhouse June 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm

What a fabulous makeover!! I also love your timber doors above your new ‘treasure’! This is the first time I have visited – please pop over and see me in Australia.


57 Susan June 23, 2010 at 6:19 am

Love it! What a wonderful transformation! I’m amazed at how people can see the potential in items that others would pass by. Love the organization. :)


58 donna joy June 24, 2010 at 10:34 pm

great piece! i too have no problem picking up someone else’s cast-offs!


59 Ginger June 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I LOVE it! What a great idea! I am kicking myself for all the times I have driven past hollowed out dressers! I think I’ll be hitting the brakes now!


60 Tumaini July 1, 2010 at 12:48 am

Absolutely Fabulous!
I know what my next project is going to be.

Have you ever thought of turning this into a business???

My blog, Flippin’ Factory, features nothing but recycled furniture makers!!

Stay creative!


61 Julie @ Practically Spent July 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I think it’s GREAT!! Love the colored shutters, too, in the one photo.


62 cassie July 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

that looks great! what a fabulous idea and use of storage!


63 Casey July 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I have a dresser missing all the drawers that I want to do this too, I’m so happy to see it can look really great! I’m not so afraid to start working on it now! I never thought of all the baskets though, that it a great idea and I’m going to use it too


64 Denise @ I Am Creating July 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm

This is awesome and inspirational too. I want to do this because it would be a great way to organize toys.


65 Lori July 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

This has got to be THE most innovative projects I have ever seen. It looks awesome. You did a terrific job!


66 Anonymous July 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

It just goes to show that ANYTHING can be redone into a beautiful creation. Well done. I am rethinking everything now.


67 Melanie Ward July 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Oh my goodness!! I absolutely love it! I constantly feel the need to be more organized but in a fun and creative way. You have inspired me to create something a bit similar for my currently empty formal dining room. Wow!! One woman’s trash is truly another woman’s treasure.


68 Cariann August 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

WOW!! Totally has the Shabby Chic look and functionality. I see all kinds of dressers on freecycle and craigslist, but never would have though… Thanks for sharing!


69 creative triplet mom August 1, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Wow this is amazing. You did an awesome job. Love it.


70 Christy August 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

I love this post and put a link to it on the organizational page on my blog.


71 Lynda August 2, 2010 at 11:35 am

I absolutely adore what you have done to this old dresser. I have wanted to do something like this with one of my own, but didn’t know what to do about how deep it is. The idea of using the baskets is perfect for keeping things from getting lost in the abyss. Thank you for sharing all the pictures. Love it!


72 Suzanne August 6, 2010 at 8:38 am

I love this idea. I have a dresser in my garage that needs to get organized. I was really frustrated with having to open drawers for every little thing but now this is perfect. Thanks and you are soooo creative!


73 Abbie August 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Are you a wizard!?!?! Beacuse I would totally beleive it if you were! I just LOVE your blog! Can you come over to my house and re-do it?? LOL


74 Diane August 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

Hi Abbie-

What a nice compliment – you have made my day. I wish I could just wave a magic wand – that would be fun. Perhaps I should start doing on-line consults?
My best- Diane


75 Katharine September 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

Where did you get the label holders? They are so cool!!


76 Diane September 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

I got them at Ikea, although a few years ago. I am not sure they still carry them. You could probably do an google search for them. They came in packs of 6 and were only a few dollars. There is a catalog that might have something similar – VanDykes Restorers. They have a website. Tt might be worth checking there also.
My best- Diane


77 Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 9:41 am

Love the transformation…too bad I don’t have a place for something like that. I also love the colored shutters you have above your transformed dresser.


78 VickiS October 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

Love the transformation…too bad I don’t have a place for something like that. I also love the colored shutters you have above your transformed dresser.


79 Alexia October 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

LOVE! I really don’t have much else to say :)


80 Jennifer October 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm

What an amazing re-do. I know I would see that in a field and not realize the extremely useful & indeed beautiful organizational piece that it became. Splendid & inspiring.


81 Callipygian October 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

This makes me sigh a little sigh of satisfaction. Lovely.


82 Cricket @ A Thrifty Penny October 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I love this repurposing. I want a dresser for a TV stand. Your post may be just the thing to convince Hubby that I’m not crazy after all :-)


83 Cricket @ A Thrifty Penny October 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Oh! And I wanted to tell you that I’m linking up to your post so my readers could see what an amazing and creative transformation you have.


84 Living So Abundantly October 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm

That is incredibly impressive! You definitely have a talent. :0)


85 Tammy October 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I came across this as i was struggling for some sort of storage idea for all the kids mittens and hats ect in our new home. I cannot tell you how often i have driven past peoples junk waiting for the garbage truck! As soon as I see one im grabbing it and doing this! IT LOOKS AWSOME! only thing i would do different is use the canvas storage bins for a cleaner look but i want this sooo bad! Thanks for sharing!


86 Diane October 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hi Tammy-

I hope you find a dresser soon. It will probably show up when you least expect it. Canvas bins will look great. I wanted wicker ones Home Goods but they did not fit. Thanks goodness for the dollar store. When you do this, please let me know and I will post it.
My best – Diane


87 Katharine October 25, 2010 at 1:21 am

I have a trash to treasure post on my blog. I also got my item off the “street” lol. Katharine


88 Shelley December 20, 2010 at 12:36 am

This is for sure one of my top favorite ideas for repurposing! Congratulations on a EXCELLENT job! Now I know exactly what to look for to go in my doorway! Thank you!


89 Beth January 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm

This idea is so fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing! I blogged about it here:


90 Naja January 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for posting! I have been scouring the internet on how to use my old dresser and some shutters to make a hamper to hide our dirty laundry! This one gives me some idea of how to convert it. Thanks for posting!


91 Jamie February 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

That turned out wonderful. I featured it on my blog. Please be sure to check it out and grab a button. I love your work. You are so talented.


92 Sarah March 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

This is an awesome transformation! I would love this for our garage to put kids shoes and things in! Thank you for the idea! I see a lot of this type of thing in the spring and summer, so now to keep my eyes open!!! : )
Thank you for posting!


93 Nancy April 8, 2011 at 6:23 am

Love it!! How bout using something like this for a Buffet?? You could even make simple doors if that is what you wanted. Thanks for the idea!!


94 Suzanne McClendon June 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I think this turned out great. What a clever idea! I also really like the louvres that are on the wall above the dresser.

I am a new follower to your site and look forward to all of your great ideas!


95 MARY GRAY July 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Great job and an inspiration piece for me. I think that I saw a piece similar to this one this morning on the side of the road. It’s on a busy road though. I would love to fix it up for my daughter.


96 Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating August 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I love this dresser makeover! I’ve included it in my roundup of 12 ways to repurpose a dresser.

Thanks for the inspiration!!


97 Lorrie September 21, 2011 at 3:00 am

Just what I need!


98 Dana October 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

Love it! What a clever idea! Oh how I wish I had a mudroom….

Dana @


99 Janet October 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm

This is brilliant! I so wish I had a mudroom, too.


100 Brooke November 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

OMG! What a brilliant idea. Although I’ll admit I’m a chicken and couldn’t think of stopping and picking up someones trash. Knowing my luck they would come after me with a loaded shot gun LOL. But who’s to say you can’t find something just as great to use from a yard sale :)


101 Jamie B. January 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This is such a clever storage idea. I’m grateful that you have shared how you made it as well. I’m going to be on the look out now for an old dresser :) Hope it’s okay, I just couldn’t help but feature your clever storage piece on my new Frugal Home Decor blog here:

Thank you so much for sharing this!


102 Diane January 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Hi Jamie-
Thank you so much for the feature. XO I used to be shy about pulling over to the side of the road when I saw good stuff. When I realized how silly that was and how much good free stuff I was missing out on – I now stop when anything catches my eye. My husband and daughters will come home and tell me they saw something on such and such street and I may want to go look at it. I trained them well :)


103 Jamie B. January 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Hehe.. yeah, you do have them trained well! I am like you, I don’t mind pulling over one bit…. it’s just most times I don’t have enough room in the car :0/ I’m thinking a truck may be a good investment :0)


104 Teri Terrific March 5, 2012 at 3:33 am

I was brought up where there was ‘unlimited refuse’ day in Toledo, Ohio; people could put anything they didn’t want on the curb and anyone could pick it up. We also hit all the garage/estate sales, but my favorite was ‘dumpster diving’ and ‘dump digging’. I remember in particular getting a vintage crushed velvet gown with lace and a portable victrola record player in a dump. I really appreciate what you share on your blog!
I realize this is an old post but do you remember the font used to make these labels? I really like it!


105 Andrea March 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I love this! I push people to follow their passions and use their creativity in their every day work and you are such an example of that! I just blogged about you! lol


106 Kristin May 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Hi, I really LOVE the backdrop shutter on the wall. How did you do that & where did you buy them at?


107 Diane May 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Thanks Kristin – The shutters are from my childhood home. When my parents were cleaning out the garage they were going to toss them and I took them instead. They are wood and were white. I mixed glaze and paint and brushed it over a shutter to get the translucent effect. I painted each shutter in a different color. When the paint was dry I added a picture hanging sawtooth hanger to the back and simply hung them using picture hanging nails.

Check out yard sales and thrift shops to find wood shutters. They seem to always have a few. Lowes and Home Depot may even still sell new wood ones, but I think they mostly sell the lightweight plastic ones.


108 marie May 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

What an awesome makeover and a great how-to as well! Thanks for sharing. Love your blog…I just found it on Pinterest.


109 Ninnie June 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I love this…..Got my mind whirling with ideas!!!!


110 Terri September 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Way Cool


111 Devon November 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm

You could easily cover the baskets with fabric. Check out the below link… so easy!


112 Diane Henkler November 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Devon – what a great idea – they look terrific. My baskets are getting beaten up by a certain kitty that thinks they are for him to hide, chew and play in. If I can’t find new ones -covering them in fabric may be just what they need. Thanks for sharing your idea and post.


113 Amanda Lucas January 29, 2013 at 5:35 am

Fantastic project. Now that you have given instructions on how to re paint and get qualilty results, I ‘m on a mission to transform old furniture at home.
Thanks again.


114 Kristyn June 13, 2013 at 3:54 am

I absolutely love this idea. I am newly into repurposing furniture, clothes etc. and was looking for some unique ways to redecorate my home. You have given me some much needed direction. Guess I wont be throwing out the kids old dressers. THANKS :))


115 Stephanie October 12, 2013 at 11:33 pm

This is a wonderful idea. I love repurposing all the things we can.


116 Khara December 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm

You are SO smart!!! I’m SO inspired by your work!;) “Re-purpose” is my middle name…and you make it look GREAT! Thanks for sharing!!! I can’t wait till the holidays are over and I can get started…and the paper on top of the dresser with glass beads over the letters! Ugh!!! TOO fun:)


117 Louise April 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I totally need label holders! Lots of label holders! Where did you find those?

What a useful way to repurpose an old dresser. And I love the shutters on the wall above it.


118 Diane Henkler April 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Hi Louise -

I bought them at IKEA a long time ago. I do not think they sell them anymore. I would check out places like Staples and Office Max. I know Martha Stewart has a few different types of labels sold at Staples. You may find something you like.


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