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31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Repurposed Upright Piano

Once upon a time, there was a gorgeous upright piano.
The piano was played by a girl who chewed gum and wore bobby pins in her hair.
But the girl grew up and moved away, and the piano sat unused.
After many, many years of disuse, the owners decided it was time for the piano to go.
carved front upright piano
That’s where I come in.  I rescued this piano with the help of my friend and her enclosed trailer.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew that this piano held too much history (and too much beauty) to end up in a burn pile.
enclosed trailer
We travelled an hour to pick up this piano (and another) and hauled them home.  We begged for help unloading them, and the two gigantic pianos sat in my garage, untouched, for a few months.
Finally, I began disassembling (which is how I know the piano player chewed gum and wore bobby pins.) I still didn’t really have a plan, but that’s common when repurposing something like this.  I had to do more investigating before I would know what could (and should) be done. 
inside of piano
I called in reinforcements and unscrewed everything I could reach.  When I had the keys and hammers out, I decided that this piano, with its beautiful red and blue felt behind the strings, shouldn’t be destructed anymore.  I cut an oak desktop to replace the keys, and the piano desk was born.
repurposed piano deskupright piano redoold piano upcycled
I added a (removable) shelf at the top and used some under-cabinets lights to highlight the back.  Because of the layout of the strings, there is a gap between the back of the desktop and the inside of the piano, making it easy to drop cords (for a lamp, computer, or tv) down the back.  upcycled upright piano
The beautiful carved piece found a new home at the last HomeShed sale, and the lower panel will be my son’s headboard soon.  The pedals, keys and hammers are still for sale, as is the piano desk.
old piano desk
After removing so many parts, the piano is MUCH lighter, and rolls easily on the concrete floor in the ‘Shed.  But yes, it is still heavy.
There have been a couple people upset that I would “destroy” a piano this way, but this is my response (which I posted on Facebook in June.)  “I have to respectfully disagree. I rescued this piano from a burn pile and am now giving it a new life in a way that fits in with todays' lifestyles. Just because it's not going to maintain its original purpose and form does not mean that it won't be cherished and adored!”  I know there are different opinions on altering antiques – whether or not to paint solid wood is pretty controversial to some!  But I also feel confident that this piano will be beautiful and useful in someone’s twenty-first century home soon!

piano makeover
(By the way, the Piano Desk is for sale for $295 in Central Iowa.  No delivery, sorry.)

This post is part of 31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Vintage, Antique and Unique for your Home and Garden.

decorating with junk

To follow along with 31 Days of Decorating with Junk, enter your email address (top right) or become a fan on Facebook.
See you tomorrow!

i'm doing it! 
31 Days of Decorating with Junk Posts:

31 Days of Decorating with Junk Introduction
Farmhouse Style Front Porch 
Modern Farmhouse Design 
Repurposed Upright Piano 
Our Exterior Makeover Reveal
Adjustable Game Table Makeover (In a Ballard Designs Whitewashed Style) 
The HomeShed's September Sale & Fall Decor Inspiration 
Proof that I'm a HardCore Junker
My Gallery Wall
HomeShed Sale Preview and Christmas Inspiration
Cute Green Dresser with Chalkboard Labels
My Favorite Paint for Antique Furniture
Kris's Cabin Tour
Essential Tools for Repurposing
Making a Custom Glaze
Fixing a Stripped Out Screw Hole
How to Make Your Home Your Own
Spray or Brush?
Five from the Archives
Owning a Junky Business Part 1
Owning a Junky Business Part 2
1840 House
Simple Vintage Halloween
Five (More) from the Archives
Crib Spring Repurpose
Owning a Junky Business Part 3
Quick Chair-Do
Pallet Wall Art
Not So Junky Basement
Owning a Junky Business Part 4
31 Days Wrap Up

Shared at:
Metamorphosis Monday

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Cassie! I'm going to try to remember to link it up with you next week!

  2. I so wish I could have it-it is beautiful!

    1. If you come this way with a trailer, you could probably haul it home!

  3. If I didn't play my old upright on a regular basis (and plan on teaching my kids) - I would totally do this! What an awesome way to save something so beautiful (I hate to see old pianos just thrown away because they are too heavy, or never played, etc.)

  4. Great job!!! Love all the "guts" left exposed in it! Beautiful work.

    1. Yeah, the inside had so much character, didn't it!

  5. This is amazing. It looks like a piece of art. If you were in NYC your price point would probably be in the $1000.00 range.
    I just love it.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Maybe I should haul it across the country to sell it. ha!

  6. I am a music teacher and I LOVE this! Great job! Kelly

    1. Thanks! I thought someone who loved music might also love this!

  7. What an original idea! The desk is beautiful.

  8. Jaw drop... this transformation is SO stunning! I can barely believe you did anything to that piano, the after looks like it's always been! So amazing. Featured on I Love That Junk and various other places. :)

  9. A very unique ideal! Great job.

  10. I love to see things preserved, but if it can't be, I think it's great to find a new purpose for it, rather than it being destroyed. You had a GREAT idea to turn this into a desk, and it's beautiful. I have a link party called We Call It Olde, for antiques, vintage, and history-related posts, I'd love to see you there, this post is perfect for it. Tuesdays at www.wecallitjunkin.com -Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

  11. How beautiful! What a lovely way to preserve a unique piece

  12. Amazing idea! Looks very steampunk. Love it.

  13. Katie, what a lovely transformation for a cast off! I wish we were within driving distance of Iowa! I would scoop it up! 😊

  14. So cool, also any piano person worth their snuff would be happy to see this. Older pianos almost always require far more work than they will ever be worth to get them in good playable shape again. This is a great reuse!

  15. Beautiful! I love what you did. You can SEE the workings which most pianists would admire, I would think.

  16. Visiting from Sawdust & Embryos! I LOVELOVELOVE this! And I totally agree with your response to "ruining" this piano. You have given a beautiful forgotten piano and new life. Now I need to go find myself a piano!

  17. She's a beautiful desk!
    enjoyed seeing what you did with her.

  18. Ok, I am bookmarking your page. I love what you did, but I have a totally different vision. Do you still have the second piano? Let me see if you can see my vision. I want a bar. When it is closed up, it will look like a regular upright piano. The sound board and strings would have to go, I understand it gives character, but it makes it weigh a ton. The front panel instead of being removed, would hinge at the bottom and open from the top. Laying flat, perhaps restrained by chains? This would be used to make drinks on when it is open. On the inside, a board would make the interior surface flat for storage. Perhaps a couple of step type shelves on one side? So you can see bottles better? Stemware could be stored upside down from the top with slide in stemware holders. An ice bucket and bar tools could be stored opposite of the bottles. I live in CR, but I have a nephew with a truck in Ames. Plus nieces and nephews attending Iowa State to provide moving labor. How much would that set me back?

  19. I would totally love to have a bar made out of an old upright piano. Any chance of that?

    1. Roy - maybe! I have another piano in my garage!

    2. I have had a very old Bush & Gerts Piano sitting in my garage since 2001 when my son and I rescued it from the curb! It's beautiful but we do not think it is of much musical value. At first I'd thought about making a headboard from the front panel but felt guilty about taking the piano apart but with this idea of using the rest of the piano for a desk gives me a little encouragement!! Lovely project!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  20. This is a perfect solution for my mother's old piano which is no longer repairable or tunable. I cannot bear to part with it, but it is just taking up space. Thank you.

  21. Is the piano still for sale? If so, how might I contact you or the location it is at?


    1. Sorry, Danny, it's sold! There is a similar piece for sale at West End Architectural Salvage in Des Moines.