Old Household Items You Can Repurpose Into Functional Patio Furniture & Décor

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Warmer weather invariably brings about the urge to freshen up your patio space, and with a little creativity, there's no need to buy anything new. If you're on a tight budget or reducing your shopping for environmental reasons, you still have options for updating your porch. Upcycling old household items isn't just the eco-conscious choice, it will also make your veranda décor all the more personalized. If you're overwhelmed by all the outdoor patio ideas to revamp your space, why not start with things you already have? We've rounded up some project ideas using old household items, repurposed into charming patio furniture and décor. 

There are plenty of cheap and clever ways to perk up your patio, but upcycling a household item might be the most affordable of all — it can even be free if you have the right supplies on hand. The following projects are easy to DIY, using tools and supplies that many people already have at home. Even if you have to buy some supplies, you'll still be giving old possessions a new purpose. If you're worried about items getting ruined by the elements, there are various ways to weatherproof indoor furniture for outdoor use. Give old household items a second life with these patio furniture and décor projects.

Make an adorable garden planter chair

Maybe you've recently updated your dining set or you have a rickety old chair in the corner of your living room. Here's how to give an old seat a new home. Use a wooden chair for this project — it's the easiest material to saw a hole into. Start with a planter that has a lip around the rim. Carefully measure the hole so the planter fits inside but is held up by the rim. The entire chair needs to be weatherproofed to hold up to outdoor conditions, especially the area where you made the cut. After painting or sealing, decorate the chair using stencils, découpage, or a free-hand design.

Old decorative plates can make a bright and colorful patio display

Do you have some decorative plates that you're not sure where to display? Whether they're chipped hand-me-downs or some fun vintage finds, one place where they can add a pop of color is on your patio. This inspiration photo from @quakerhillfarm uses an old wire plant stand for the display, painted to prevent rust. Keep in mind that outdoor conditions are harsher than indoors. You won't want to use prized plates or ones that are particularly breakable. It's also wise to move the plates inside during wild, windy, or very cold weather.

Incorporate old knick-knacks into patio décor

This idea is perfect for eclectic patios where you want to inject extra personality. If you have some knick-knacks that need a new home, such as statues, figurines, carvings, bowls, vases, or non-valuable vintage items, move them to your patio space. Weatherproofing is key to keeping items in good condition. Consider using waterproofing spray, polyurethane, or other transparent coats (depending on the material). However, a little bit of wear can make some decorations look charmingly rustic. You can also incorporate the décor in covered patio spaces, which will provide some protection against the elements.

Give a vintage box a new life as a patio planter

A vintage box can make a unique planter that gives your patio a more rustic, farmhouse look. This video from @lauracavehome shows the process of upcycling a vintage tea chest, but you can apply this idea to pretty much any type of wooden box. Weatherproofing with an oil or other water-resistant finish is a key step to prevent wood rot. A waterproof membrane helps keep the interior well protected. Rolling casters are optional, but they will make it easier to wheel the planter around when it's full.

Make a useful screened cover from an old lampshade

There is one downside to spending more time on the patio — more interaction with bugs. This project shows a creative way to keep flies off your snacks by upcycling an old lampshade. It involves taking the material off the shade and covering the frame with sheer fabric (so you can see your nibbles, but the flies can't get to them). An alternative to using sheer fabric is to upcycle a sheer curtain. Finally, add some decorative ribbon or trim so you can leave the cover out for decoration between outdoor parties.

Turn a lantern into a decorative succulent garden

Decorative lanterns are cheap and easy to find, and you may even have one lying around the house somewhere. Choose a lantern with a bottom section that has a lip, so you have a spot to put plants. Since succulents are prone to overwatering, you should drill drainage holes into the lantern base. If the lantern has a deep enough bottom section, you can also put a layer of rocks underneath the soil for extra drainage. Our succulents guide provides more tips for taking care of these hardy plants.

Upcycle furniture parts to create a plant wall

A plant wall looks stunning in any space, and it's one of the best methods to dress up a blank patio. An easy way to make a plant wall is to start with some kind of frame. Then mount this frame to the wall and attach some planters. For example, you can turn an IKEA table leaf into a plant display base. This hack from @camelotartcreations uses the side rails of an old crib, but pretty much any frame that's sturdy and has slats across it to attach the plants to will do.

Old furniture can go on the patio with a little preparation

Want to upgrade your patio seating area but don't have the budget for new furniture? A cost-effective solution is to upcycle your old wooden pieces. Indoor wood furniture can go outside, as long as it's prepped properly. This video from @bvintagestyle shows the key steps involved in coating a wood table with clear polyurethane. Outdoor conditions are harsher than those in your living room, so expect to do ongoing maintenance to deal with wear and tear. Indoor furniture will also fare better on a covered patio, protected from direct sun and rain.

An old chandelier can make a charmingly quaint hanging planter

This project creates an absolutely charming décor piece by upcycling a chandelier into a hanging planter. It's best to avoid using a chandelier with lots of breakable glass parts. Choose one with cups that are large enough for you to attach small planters. You'll need to weatherproof and paint the entire chandelier once the pots are attached to make it look cohesive. Any plants that grow well in small pots will work well for this project, such as colorful pansies or fuss-free succulents.

A side table frame can be upcycled into a plant stand

If you have an old side table, you might be able to turn it into a cheap plant stand. This project works with square metal side table frames where you can detach the top. Remove the tabletop and find a planter that sits nicely within the frame. If the planter doesn't have holes, drill a few in the bottom to ensure good drainage. Finally, paint the frame and the planter to suit your patio décor, being sure to use an exterior-grade product such as this Rust-Oleum spray paint from Amazon.

Use an old dresser to make a vintage plant display

As we mentioned above, indoor furniture can find a home outdoors. Old shelves and tables are obvious picks, but you can even upcycle an old cabinet. This project from @cooneynest shows just how charming one of these projects can look. You can waterproof the cabinet and leave it as-is for a rustic vibe, but to make it eye-catching, this one is painted bright pink. You can use the cabinet as storage to stash away garden tools and other outdoor items or fill the drawers with flowers for a stunning display.

Use empty cans to make pretty containers or planters

This video from @hometalk demonstrates a clever way to turn old cans into small planters. Use bigger cans for this project, like large chickpea, bean, or diced tomato cans. Some paint, a drill for making holes, patterned paper, and a layer of exterior Mod Podge (available on Amazon) can completely disguise the fact that this project is an old can rescued from the recycling bin. The finished project is a multi-purpose container. Drill holes if you want to create planters, or simply use them as vases or storage containers for small tools and outdoor accessories.

An old bathtub makes for a massive, character-filled planter

Plants in a bathtub. It's an odd combination, but it instantly adds character to an outdoor space. If you're renovating your bathroom, you might be wondering what to do with an old freestanding tub. Getting rid of it can be costly, so why not turn it into a work of art? Place it where you want the garden to be (it will only get heavier once filled, so start with the tub in place). Fill with soil and add your plants of choice. We love the look of this cheerful and low-maintenance succulent garden, but you can also opt for ferns, flowers, herbs — you name it.

Use a filing cabinet to create a modern planter

A bathtub planter has a certain charm that works well on eclectic patios, but it might not fit with modern décor. If you're after a contemporary look, use an old filing cabinet to create a modern planter. The finished project looks as sleek as a trendy container but costs a fraction of the price. You can paint it whatever color you'd like. For extra protection, finish off your filing cabinet with a clear waterproof coat, like the Rust-Oleum Matte Clear Enamel ($7.98 from The Home Depot).

An old nightstand can transform into an outdoor bar

Your old wooden nightstand might just be the perfect piece for a small patio bar. This nightstand upcycle is reminiscent of a bar cart, but with more of a farmhouse feel thanks to the wood and carved details. Paint or stain the nightstand to your liking, and make sure to finish with a waterproof clear coat. You can also update any knobs or handles to give the nightstand a new look. It might be a small bar, but it's the perfect option for a summer refreshment station.

Bring an unused clothing rack outdoors and use it for hanging plants

Whether you've done some decluttering or you've moved into a new place with larger closets, clothing racks do sometimes outgrow their usefulness. Why not bring an old rack outdoors to make a movable plant display? Paint or seal the rack to prevent rust or rot (most racks are made of metal or wood, so choose a method that works with the material). Then, place it outside and use it to display hanging plants. The rack adds height and dimension to your patio plant setup, without requiring you to mount anything to the walls.

Old dingy indoor shelves can become a decorative patio feature

Do you have an old display shelf that's seen better days? Instead of tossing it, why not move it out to the patio? This is a way to repurpose a shelf that might not suit your indoor space, but that's still too nice to relegate to the dump. If there's already some wear and tear, you're probably not too worried about it becoming damaged outdoors. However, it's still worth painting or sealing the piece before you put it outside to slow down any further rust or weathering. This also gives you a chance to customize the look, try out a daring paint color, or make it match the rest of your patio furniture. 

A plastic bucket can become a cheap planter

This project idea works for buckets of all sizes, whether it's an old beach bucket or a kids' storage bin. This DIY uses textured paint for the base and has a stenciled pattern painted on top to help hide the smooth plastic surface and make it feel more like a decorative planter. You can follow this video from @d.i.y.bri to make your own textured paint by mixing paint and baking soda. Or, opt for a pre-textured product, like the Rust-Oleum Stone Creations Spray Paint, available on Amazon.

Make indoor cushions water-resistant for patio use

Outdoor cushions can cost a pretty penny. If you want to update your patio seating area without breaking the bank, you can repurpose some indoor cushions instead. As @lifewithleeanne shows, it's as easy as spraying them with a waterproofing product like Scotchgard Water and Sun Shield ($8.98 from The Home Depot). Treated indoor cushions won't be as hard-wearing as proper outdoor cushions, which are made from tougher upholstery, so you'll probably want to bring them in during wet weather. But with a little extra care, they're a great alternative to pricey exterior cushions. 

A wine bottle stake vase is easy to make and looks beautifully bohemian

Of the many ways to upcycle empty wine bottles as décor, one of our favorites is to create a flower vase. While you can just place your vase upcycle on a patio table, here's how to take this DIY to the next level. Tie the wine bottle onto a tall wooden stake and drive it securely into the ground by your patio seating area. Install one or two in eye-catching spots or stake a row of them to create a border of charming vases that you can fill with blooms and greenery of your choice.

An old box spring can be the frame for an outdoor gate

Buying a new gate can be pricey. You can make your own using an old box spring. A single-bed box spring frame might be roughly the right size to turn into a garden gate. If it's a little tall for your needs, use a saw to cut it down to height. Some chicken wire, a coat of paint, and new hardware — and you've got yourself a gate. This DIY version might not be as secure as some metal gates, but it will do the job of separating garden and patio areas.

Seal a bench for outdoor use

Give an old bench a new home outdoors. This video from @our_upcycled_life walks you through the steps to upcycle a bench that was destined for the dump, cleaning it up and sealing it well for patio use. You can use the finished bench as a seating area, of course, let's say next to your upcycled patio bar with your weatherproofed indoor cushions? Or if you have enough seating, use it like a side table or as a display area to place plants and patio décor.