Trash to Treasure Furniture Makeover

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Furniture makeover showing how to transform a piece of furniture found in curbside trash into a beautiful piece of functional furniture for your home.

I am one of those people who is not afraid to stop my car on the side of the road to pick up other people’s cast-offs.  I enjoy the process of a good trash to treasure furniture makeover. I find the hunt very adventurous 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.

furniture-before-and-after-trash-to-treasure-makeoverFurniture Makeover Using Dollar Store Baskets

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.

how to make tags and labels using your printer the easy way

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

how to make pretty labels using your computer and printer

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

how to attach labels to baskets and boxes

Variation: To see a way to attach a label without one of these label holders, click here: How To Attach Labels to Baskets and Boxes for Organizing

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 Furniture Makeover: 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

I love how it came out.  Not too bad for something I found on the side of the road. I love a good trash to treasure furniture makeover don’t you?

Trash to Treasure After

Budget Furniture Makeover

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  1. How would this work for a dresser made of particle board? I have two of them and I’d love to convert them to basket storage like this, or like those Container Store Elfa systems.

    1. Hi – It all depends on what the particle board looks like. If it is smooth and in good shape, you can add plywood shelves and then prime and paint everything. If there is laminate over the particle board – you will have to sand this first with 100 grit sandpaper to rough the smooth surface up a bit so the paint has something to adhere to. I would also seal any particle board that is not covered with laminate with KILZ Original primer. It is oil-based but dries in 30 mins. Using it will seal the particle board. If you use a water-based primer – the particle board may expand and you don’t want that to happen. Have fun making the dresser.

  2. I love this dresser. I’ve seen some dressers on the side of the road and was always wondering what to do with the gap from the old drawers. Thank you.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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:)

  5. 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 :))

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

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

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

    1. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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!

    1. 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 :)

      1. 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)

  11. 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 :)

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

    1. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

    1. 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

  23. 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

    1. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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

  29. 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!

  30. 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. :)

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

    1. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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!


  37. 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!


  38. 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”!

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

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

  41. 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.

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

  43. 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!

  44. 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!


  45. 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!

  46. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  48. 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!


  49. 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.

    1. 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.

  50. 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:)

  51. 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!