Cardboard to CountryYour first couple years out of school, you're lucky to have food, let alone a table to put it on. That's why most of us pick up a cheap number from Ikea. Use the table top as a base and fasten 1x4's with wood glue. A little stain and poly and you've got a real dinner table.
This style of stool is everywhere - from your favorite cocktail lounge to high-end furniture stores - except anywhere that sells affordable seating.
Ikea sells the "Dalfred" stool shown in the corner, but for some reason it's got a dinky foot-wide seat. Feels more like a stool for a plant than your butt.
Screw a $12 wood pine round from Home Depot to the current seat, stain it, and your breakfast bar looks hundreds of dollars more impressive.
Removable Fireplace Upgrade
Just because you can't paint doesn't mean you can't add color. Create focus and a warm feel for a boring fireplace by tacking spray painted bead board to the front.
MDF beadboard – which is essentially really hard cardboard with the indentations molded in – is $20 for a 4' x 8' panel and a can of spray paint is a few bucks. Since it's lighweight, only a few small nails are needed to hold it in place.
Measure your fireplace, get Home Depot to cut it for you, paint it, nail it, and you're done - all in an afternoon.
Economical to Industrial
Take your standard Ikea floor lamp gathering dust in the corner and turn it into a modern industrial fixture.
Vintage Military Table
Revitalize a boring desk or table (here, the same Ikea model I used to add wood to) by spray painting the top with hammered-metal spray paint. After it dries, use sand paper to scrape light, long lines the length of the table to simulate a brushed metal texture. Redo your desk for $6.
Plastic Knob to Leather TabFold over a strip of leather and secure it with a roofing nail to replace cheap looking drawer pulls with a classic, sturdy look.
If These Walls Could ReadBring some dimension to your walls by reusing an old book end as a floating shelf. Screw the end to the wall, tape the bottom flap of the bottom book to the underside of the book end, and stack until happy.
A TV Table That Isn't An Eye SoreThe TV table is no stranger to the twenty-something man's living room. We eat on it while watching a movie. We put our laptop on it while we're watching the game and "working". We stash drinks and all of the remotes and game controllers on it. It's an essential part of the modern man's living room. But it doesn't have to be ugly. Replace the top with a stained wood board, and add some character by painting the base. Easy as pie – now you can get back to "work".
An Old Army Stool
All stools are surprisingly expensive. And when you're just out of school, the cheapest is usally the best we can get. The stool on the right worked well for a few years, it was cheap, modern, and allowed people to sit at the bar. But as the rest of the place evolved, the cheap stool started to stand out. Remove the plastic seat, spray paint the base, rotate it 180 degrees, add a new foot rest made out of a piece of scrap, and screw on a stained wood round like the other stool renovation. Now you've got a stool that stands out - in a good way.
New to wood staining, or want to learn how to redo your other furniture? Check out, "How to Refinish Old Furniture: Decorate Your Place on the Cheap!