Creative Recycling: How To Revive An Old Chair

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 

Once structurally repaired, we used a decoupage technique to cover this chair with old comics. Perfect for a child’s room or game room.

>>Up Next: Paint + Fabric

Here’s another chair, brought to life with some vibrant pink paint and a funky new fabric on the seat pad.

>>Up Next: Varnish

And another with a more traditional approach – sanded down and revarnished and reupholstered.

We think these chairs look fabulous. What do you think?

If you want to revive some used furniture for your home, find out how we transformed these chairs from trash to treasure.

Making and mending things in this way is incredibly good for our health as human beings. Think of the buzz you get from being able to say “I made that” or the pleasure of receiving a gift that someone has taken time and trouble to hand craft for you!

So if you’re ready to give those dining chairs the boot, stop! Think again and give them a new lease of life and whole new look.

 About the Author: Clare Flynn is one of the co-founders of, a website dedicated to living sustainably and creatively. Flynn believes you get more out of life when you make and mend – the desire to make things is hardwired in humans and we’re a whole lot happier when we do that.

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Author: Scott Cooney

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