Creative Recycling: How To Revive An Old Chair

Published on September 8th, 2011 | by

This is a guest post by Clare Flynn, co-founder of

Living a sustainable life isn’t about compromising and making do. It’s not about putting up with old, unwanted items. No! – one person’s discarded furniture can actually be another’s fabulous, unique customized piece. Never mind recycling – go for upcycling!

Shocking Facts About Furniture Waste:

  • Every year in the USA an estimated 9 million tons of furniture goes to landfill
  • Chairs are the most common item thrown away
  • US furniture sales represent around $80 billion
  • In the UK over 10 million items of furniture are sent to landfill each year
  • 3 million of these items of furniture could be reused
  • 4 million kids in Britain live in houses with broken or missing items of furniture where their parents can’t afford to buy replacements

Giving your unwanted stuff away and finding it a good home, using Freecycle or sending it to Goodwill, can make a huge difference to someone’s life.  But why not think twice before you buy new stuff yourself. Instead of hitting Ikea, why not hit your local recycle center or junk shop and see if you can bag yourself some tired old furniture to renew. It’s not just about reduce, reuse, recycle – we think there’s a very important 4th R – revive.

In the old pre flat-pack furniture days, items of furniture were built to last. Before we all fell in love with the consumer society, we bought things rarely and expected them to last. Lots of these old pieces are of quite solid and sturdy construction. Even if they’re now looking a bit shabby, tired, unloved and ready for the scrapheap, they’re just waiting for a bit of TLC and imagination to restore them to their former glory – or better still to refashion them into a whole new look.

We decided to rescue a set of chairs (see top image) that were on their to the landfill, and show how easy it is to transform them into unique pieces of furniture.

Thumb through the next few pages to see the results!

>>Up Next: Decoupage Chair 


Pages: 1 2 3 4

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.