how to repurpose furniture

How To Repurpose Furniture From Your Residence Hall

In Blog, Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse, solid wood, Wood is Good by Amos Kober

What should you do with your old furniture? That’s a question you can’t avoid when you’re planning for a new furniture installation in your residence hall.

But, for a lot of reasons, it’s hard to find an answer.

First, you’ve just gone through an entire process to select a furniture manufacturer. Then you have to make countless decisions to arrive at the best design, establish your budget, get buy-in, and evaluate the sustainability credentials of the new furnishings and oversee the delivery and installation.

It’s a long process to get to the point when you finally submit that purchase order.

And then, when all of that’s done, it hits you. You need to find a way to deal with all your existing stock of furniture that you’re replacing.

How to Repurpose Furniture – You Have Options

how to repurpose furnitureWhat you may not know is that you have some great options—especially with solid hardwood furniture. And not only that, DCI can help you do it with a clean conscience while offsetting your costs at the same time.

In essence, you can do the following:

  • Donate it
  • Resell it
  • Recycle it
  • Upcycle it
  • Throw it out

At DCI, we’re passionate about preventing waste and giving furniture a second life to keep it out of the landfill. And the beautiful thing is that, with a little planning, you can give wood furniture a second and third life.

That’s not the case with residence hall furniture that’s made with cheaper materials like laminated wood,which—although attractive—you can’t recycle or easily repurpose because it’s not durable, and it’s filled with toxic chemicals like formaldehyde.

Instead, you have to send it to the landfill where it literally sits for a thousand years since it can’t decompose.

Inspiring (And Ethical) Examples

In contrast, we work directly with all our clients to develop a tailored plan for getting rid of their old solid wood furniture in the most sustainable way possible.

Over the last several decades, we have repurposed enough furniture to fill over three hundred 53-foot containers. All of that was solid hardwood furniture that we diverted from the landfill.

1. Reselling & Reusing

where and how to repurpose furnitureAt Pepperdine University we coordinated the donation, resale, and reuse of their furniture. First, we delivered much of it to Habitat for Humanity ReStore for resale.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Then, we resold an additional 250 sets of Pepperdine furniture at a significant markdown to a small private school that needed furniture but lacked funding.

That was a major win-win. Pepperdine profited financially, they disposed of their furniture ethically, the private school got furniture it couldn’t otherwise afford, and the biosphere was spared more waste. You can read the full Pepperdine Sustainability Case Study here.

2. Upcycling

In another example, DCI works in ongoing partnership with the University of New Hampshire on an upcycling project. We upcyclingbecause it’s good for the environment and it makes economic sense. What is upcycling? According to Wikipedia:

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

In essence, DCI furnishes the UNH residence halls with brand new hardwood furniture that is fortified with upcycled internal components from furniture that we installed on their campus over 25 years ago. Read the full case study here.

3. Donating

We have also worked with the armed forces to repurpose furniture after performing our installation. We coordinated the donation of furniture to Goodwill from Naval Base Point Loma and Nellis Air Force Base.

In each case, we worked closely with representatives within the government to identify charities and coordinate the donations.

So if you are in the planning phase of your installation, remember that you have options. If you’re working with DCI, we’ll work with you to develop a tailored plan.

If you are working with another manufacturer, make sure that they help you keep your old furniture out of the landfill. And if possible, give it a second life.


To set up an order today or to talk with one of our representatives, you can write to us here or call: (800) 552-8286.

You can also learn more about our industry-leading FSC CoC certification, our MAS certification, and our green materials sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, and our unique zero waste Vertical Integration Process (VIP).

Download DCI’s Sustainability Pledge.