9 Ways to Give New Life to Old Shutters

May 21, 2013

For the DIY-minded, transforming the dumpster-bound into décor is a creative way to infuse your home with an eclectic character. So when it's time to replace the shutters on your home, don't just toss the old sets. Think about giving new life to those louvers with some off-the-wall repurposing. Here are 9 ways you can reuse retired wood shutters:

Home organization center

Without few additions, a shutter hung vertically on the wall can become a mail sorter (just stow envelopes between the slats) as well as an organization station that's ideal for a family kitchen or home office. Tuck the cardboard flap of a small notebook into one slot and slide pencils right beside for jotting reminders. Affix clothespins or binder clips to slats for tacking up important papers and pictures.

If the shutter is wide enough, you can even slide file folders into the openings (or screw a wall file pocket to the bottom for periodicals and paperwork). For even more functionality, give a coat of chalkboard paint so you can scribble messages onto the slats.

Don't like to look at a messy message board? Attach shutters to either side of a corkboard using hinges, so that you can close the doors on the day's chaos.

Need organization elsewhere? Outfit your shutter with hooks and bins like those from 3M's Command line, or hang shallow baskets from the slats using S hooks. Now you can control anything from jewelry or hair bows to kitchen utensils or craft supplies.

Shelving unit

Hinge together two tall shutters, then slide slim boards (or smaller shutters) through the slats to form ledges -- instant corner unit. Want to go higher? Use a shelf bracket and a short shutter to create a wall shelf. If hung in the kitchen, the slats will hold plates upright as a sort of plate rack, and you can screw small hooks to the underside of the shelf for storing teacups.

Art installation

Piece together a collection of reclaimed shutters in a variety of colors to create a unique textural art installation on the wall or a funky finish for the ceiling.

Media center

Remove every other slat on your shutter, lean it against the wall, and hang magazines over the remaining slats -- a perfect idea for keeping reading material at hand in those tight areas beside the toilet. You can also mount a small shutter on the wall (horizontally or vertically) and slide slim children's books between the slats.

Privacy screen

Hinge three to four tall shutters side by side to form a privacy screen that can be used to section off a garden "room," to hide unsightly outdoor fixtures (think air conditioning units or well pumps), or as an addition to your interior décor. Before connecting the pieces, ensure they are the same height (you may need to trim them down).

Cupboard

With a handful of shutters in a similar height -- and some basic carpentry know-how -- you can create a custom cupboard. Join three together (each corner forming a 90-degree angle) using pocket holes. Cut a top and bottom from a board. For a finished look, trim the top and bottom with molding. Attach a fourth shutter to the unit using hinges, and then install a door catch and knob. Depending on its intended use (say, as a linen closet inside a bathroom or as a side table), you may wish to add shelves or hooks inside the cupboard. You could also forgo the fourth door to form an open bookshelf.

Headboard

Join several shutters side by side and screw them to your bed frame as you would any headboard. Alternatively, if the shutters are as tall as your bed is wide, you can flip a couple horizontally and hang them from the wall, one above the other. Just be sure to use appropriate hardware and secure them to the studs.

Outdoor table

Screw turned wooden legs to each corner of a shutter to form a table. The slats allow rain to run through rather than pool on top of the piece, making it an ideal addition to your outdoor space.

Garden stakes

Disassemble the shutters and salvage the slats. When given a fresh coat of chalkboard paint, these make great garden stakes that can be relabeled as needed.

While many older shutters already have great character in the way of a peeling paint patina, you may wish to give some pieces a facelift for your project. Before painting, remove all of the hardware and the hinges. Wipe down the wood with rags and household cleaner, and then allow the wood to dry completely. Spray paint is ideal for getting into louvered grooves -- when painting slats, work from left to center and then right to center to gain even coverage.

Have you repurposed your run-down shutters in a creative way?

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate and contributes regularly to Home Depot's blog, where he provides advice covering everything from roman shades to casement windows.

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