Taking the time to give old furniture a new lease of life is a great way of bringing pieces with some history and character into your home, while also adding your own personal touch to them. And if that’s not enough of an excuse to give it a go – recycling old furniture also helps the environment by reducing waste and avoiding the need for new items to be produced.
While the reasons for giving your furniture pieces a revamp are plentiful, most of us may still hesitate when it comes down to how to do it and where to start.
Here’s some quick and affordable tips, tricks and ideas for how you can revamp old furniture. Best of all they will create something totally unique for your home.
Don’t skimp on the prep
Although it might be tempting to save time and energy by cutting straight to painting or decorating your chairs, table, or dresser, don’t. In the long term, skipping the basic preparations may mean you’ll have more work later on, by having to remove the after-effects of your rushed handiwork before starting all over again.
After giving your furniture item a thorough clean with any household cleaner – or better yet, a power-washer if you have access to one – set to work stripping any old or flaking paint from it. You may also need to sandpaper it down to ensure that the resulting surface is smooth and ready for the next step.
Pick your primer
Much like skipping the preparation, painting directly onto the piece without applying a primer first could well result in extra work and expense down the line, such as adding another coat (or three) of paint.
Some forward-planning and research is needed here too, however. Certain primers are required according to the type of material you’re painting, such as wood or metal, while others differ according to what kind of paint you intend to use on top of it. Make sure to buy the right kind for your project by following the guidance supplied on the primer tin, as well as that of your local hardware and paint store.
Set the space with the right tools
It’s a good idea to purchase and collect all the tools, equipment and products you might need together before you start, in a well-ventilated, sheltered place where you can safely and comfortably work on the project. This will also mean you won’t have to move the piece while each layer of product dries.
Think ahead to the various phases your project will go through before it’s finished, especially as regards having enough of each of the products you’ll need to cover all necessary surfaces of the piece. It’s better to have too much, than not enough, and risk uneven coverage on your piece as you make the mad dash to buy more.
Choosing the right brushes is just as important as the products themselves – don’t rely on cheap or old bristle brushes to get the job done, as bristles could fall out and embed themselves in the paint or leave unsightly streaks. A new set of brushes purchased with the project in mind may just make your revamp job quicker, easier, and have a far higher-quality finish.
Adding a lick of paint to your furniture piece can instantly update it, while also adding a pop of colour to your space.
One of the most popular ways to radically change the colour and look of a piece is to use chalk paint, particularly on wooden items that fit well within the vintage farmhouse ‘shabby chic’ design style. Application is simple, but it will need to be sealed with a clear or dark furniture wax to prevent flaking or chipping.
Other than traditional furniture emulsion, you could also try spray paint. With a massive range of colours available, this is a great option to make a statement piece in one afternoon – although it’s advisable to follow an online tutorial to learn the best technique and avoid drip lines.
Try your hand at découpage, stain or wax
If you have a different look in mind for your piece, there are many ways other than painting that you can use to achieve it.
Not far removed from the technique used in papier-mâché, découpage is a fun way to make your item of furniture entirely unique. Découpage involves cutting out pictures, book pages, maps, or pretty much anything on paper and gluing them to an object, before coating with layers of varnish. Even better, most of the materials and tools you may already have at home, with only a few specialist items such as the varnish required otherwise.
Alternatively, you could go for simply staining or waxing the piece to show off a wood pattern underneath. If you choose either of these options, it’s best to test your stain or wax in a concealed spot on the piece first, however, to check what the end result will look like.
Dial up the hardware
If you have several items of furniture that you would like to unite in one space, like your bedroom, you could even consider replacing certain parts of your furniture items in order to create a more uniform look.
A good way to do this is to swap the legs of each of the pieces (if they can be removed) so that they will all share the same style of legs. This will give them more impact, and create a wonderful cohesive look.
However, the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective method to instantly revamp any furniture piece is to replace the hardware. Switching the knobs, handles, or hinges can add a ton of personality, and means your design options are practically endless.