Buying new furniture is not a fun experience. You can either go down the IKEA route; herded through a vast warehouse full of people and myriad identikit shelves, cupboards and tables, or seek out more unusual pieces, navigating between the fiendishly expensive and the decidedly naff.
If you've got pots of money, it's a different story, of course. But these days that's unlikely to be the case, and the green and thrifty world of repurposing starts to look very attractive. You could buy ready-repurposed furniture from Baileys, whose range is well worth checking out. But for inspiration, follow the jump for some creative ways that internet dwellers have spruced up old junk to make unique and useful furniture.
The current issue of Craft Magazine features a great way to 'turn accidents into art': making a mosaic table. The method of transformation here involves using cracked crockery to create a colourful and crazy effect. All you'll need is an old table that's destined for the dump, some old crockery and a clumsy disposition: more detailed instructions from the Guardian, here.
Marianne Kirby of Reclaimed Whimsy's 'button table' became a huge hit with crafters over the summer, and is a fabulous example of how a bit of ingenuity can transform a tired bit of tat into something really rather lovely. She used resin, which is where it gets seriously fiddly, but whether or not you want to replicate her technique, it's good to see something shiny and new come out of old scrap. Details on her method can be found here.
Salvaged shelving solutions
If you need more storage space for your vast library of eco reading-material, there's seldom any need to use new wood. Built-in shelves can often be made using components from other furniture, and are every bit as sturdy as shop bought sort: see here for some suggestions. Remember, every part of the shelf can be recycled: the shelves pictured here are held up by wooden 'brackets' taken from the inside of a cheap, canvas wardrobe.
All sorts of home furnishings can be put to good use in the garden once they're no longer needed in the house. Large sinks make particularly fine flower pots, but with a bit of weatherproof paint, you can turn many wooden furnishings into homes for your plants, too. I love the way this 'retired' chest of drawers has been turned into a colourful and unusual garden feature. Remember, you'll need to ensure that rainwater can escape from any furniture you bring outside: drill a few holes to avoid stagnation and rotting.
For more information on repurposing furniture, check out Decorating, Junk Market Style, a guide to sprucing up old furniture on Amazon. Alternatively, Baileys' Recycled Home has some awesome ideas you can either replicate or purchase...