When you decide to replace your stove or refrigerator, what do you do with the old one? Most people just take it to the dump. But appliances don’t decompose – they will sit and rust for hundreds of years. If you’re lucky, there might be a recycling facility nearby. But there’s another option: why not give them new life by converting them into something new? Whether you want to save the planet, enhance home decor, or simply love DIY projects, consider repurposing before throwing those old appliances to the elements.
Old Refrigerator? Say Hello to Your New Couch!
Canadian designer Adrian Johnson came up with an excellent way of finding a new purpose for something that would have ended up in a junk pile — the FridgeCouch.
Your first impulse may be to just get rid of it once the replacement is installed. But imagine the possibilities of such a large, sturdy box. Just fill the hole with a car or truck bench seat and, voila, you have a new couch. This is an excellent low-budget project because most of your supplies can be easily found at your local wrecking yard. Be sure to carefully measure the fridge’s cavity before going to the yard so you get something that will fit perfectly the first time.
The open door at the back provides the back support needed to secure the seat. However, you will need support underneath the seat as well. Replace the fridge’s glass or plastic shelves with wood to create a more reliable (and better fitting) support structure.
If you will be using a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer combo, remove the smaller of the two doors and its hardware while leaving the other opened. Then install the seat as with the previous style.
If the freezer section is on the top or bottom, it can be converted into a side table by removing the door and hardware and covering the opening with a piece of wood, glass or metal. If you opt for glass, clean the freezer thoroughly and give the interior a coat of metallic or black paint for instant polish. If you want to go one step further, you can fill the painted freezer with thematic objects to give the “table” depth. You can vary this filling by holiday (ex: Easter eggs in April, spiders in October, tree ornaments in December, etc.) or by room theme.
Finally, all you have to do is paint it in the color of choice (use appliance paint for maximum durability) and add legs on the bottom if desired. Then sit down and admire your handiwork!
Yesterday’s Oven, Today’s Furniture
If your stove breaks or is getting replaced, don’t throw it away — you might miss out on another great DIY furniture opportunity! Old ovens can make interesting chairs and even a child’s bed.
First, remove the guts (coils, wiring, etc.) and, if you plan to use this as a chair, remove the top of the oven so the interior is open to the ceiling (this will take a little welding). Then line the interior, door, and sharp metal edges from removing the top with strong wood that can support an adult’s weight. Then add legs to the front of the oven door or a fold-out bar that will unfold when the door is open — it should work much like a fold-out sofa bed. The folding legs will provide the support needed for the oven door. You can use a small child’s mattress and throw pillows to act as cushions, or you can leave it at the wood, depending on your seating preference. Finish the exterior with your choice of wood paneling, upholstery, appliance paint, or even a tile mosaic.
Making a child’s bed is much the same as making the chair, except the top is closed. This area can be dark, so install a battery-powered night light or glow-in-the-dark stars to help little ones feel more secure. Finish with a comfortable mattress, blankets, and pillows.
Expand Kitchen Storage with Old Dressers
Kitchens hold everything from utensils to pots and pans to countertop appliances, and somehow it all fits…mostly. If you’re running out of storage space in your kitchen, you can build a super easy island out of an old dresser. The dresser drawers will provide the storage space you’re looking for as well as extra counter space. And if shelf hangers are added to the back, you can create an overhang for a breakfast bar!
The dresser will need an extra layer on top to protect it from knives, water, and other typical kitchen wear and tear. A waterproofed wood countertop in a butcher block design is a easy-install, affordable option.
The final step is to painting the dresser to match the decor in the kitchen — not the cabinets — making it the showstopping centerpiece your handiwork deserves to be.
Like Dioramas? Grab a Microwave
Dioramas can be much more than just an elementary school shoebox project. If you build dioramas as a hobby or want to get into it, grab an old microwave.
First, remove the front door and cut the power cord flush with the appliance. If possible, remove it entirely. Then thoroughly clean the interior until there is no grease remaining.. If you want a rotating element as part of your scene, keep the plate. Finish it off with wood or appliance paint on the interior and your choice of decoration on the exterior. Then, get to work on your diorama!
Presto! Shadow Boxes
Have a couple old aluminum pots or pans on hand? They may not be appliances, but you can turn them into charming mounted shadow boxes for pictures, trophies, small family heirlooms, or knick knacks. By grouping two or three similarly styled pots together, a cohesive piece of wall art can be created.
If you want to paint the pan exterior or interior, do that first. Appliance paint sticks well to metal and should be used for best results. Keeping or removing the pot handle is your choice, but can complicate the process.
Then, measure the interior circumference of the pan. Cut a length of velvet or felt accordingly and glue securely on the the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure not to create any lumps or wrinkles.
If you want an open shadow box, you’re almost done. Simply add mounting hardware to pieces to the pot and to the spot on the wall where you want to mount it, and let set before hanging.
If you want a closed shadow box, place whatever it is you want to display in the pot first and anchor with superglue. If you like the rustic look, cover with a section of chicken wire, cut to size, and use clear glue to fix it in place. If you prefer a simpler, more refined look, cut clear Plexiglass to fit slightly smaller than the opening of the pot and glue in place.
Next time you find yourself looking at a broken, old or worn-out appliance or piece of furniture, ask yourself how you can repurpose it. If you want to try one of these projects, but don’t have any old appliances to use, call your local appliance store to see if they have any broken-down appliances that you can use. Up-cycling is trendy and is easy for DIY newbies as well as pros. All it takes is a little imagination and the drive to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece of home art.