1. Paint. This may seem like an obvious way to transform a piece of furniture. Last summer, I painted my desk and my trashcan. It was a bold way to make-over something that was really plain. I also splatter painted another table (photo below), that I use for demonstrations. If something spills...it isn't a big deal.
2. Paper mache. The lamp beside my desk is from Ikea. A few years ago my cat ripped a big whole in the side. It sat, torn and destroyed for a long time before I got the idea to paper mache the surface....which fixed the rip and created an amazing design. Everyone who enters my room marvels at the lamp.
3. Fabric. I found an awesome cut of black and white material and I adhered a long strip of velcro along the top of the fabric and the top of one of my shelves. Now the material covers a really cluttered looking bookshelf.
4. Mosaic. Below, you can see a dresser that I covered with mosaic tile. The drawers are a little heavy....but they are great for storage. The tile shards are actually from broken, glazed student-made pottery. Repurpose and reuse!