Let’s face it, buying new furniture is expensive. So expensive, in fact, that I’ve never actually done it (besides couches, because I’m not awesome/crazy enough to DIY a couch). There is also the problem that new furniture is, well… boring. To me it all looks the same and basically has zero personality. A great (and super cheap!) solution to this is to redo old furniture. But what do you do with your ratty old thrift store furniture once you get it home?
1. Paint it a fun color
The simplest and most dramatic way to give your furniture some personality is to paint it a bold color. I know, it’s scary…at first. But the chances are that you will love it, and your fierce new furniture will become your favorite things in your house. And if it doesn’t…then you can just paint it again. That’s the great thing about painting furniture, it’s cheap and easy to change.
2. Paint it white
If you’re a neutral loving kinda gal, or if bold colors just aren’t your thing, then you can never go wrong by painting your furniture white. It’s crisp, clean, and matches everything.
3. Don’t paint it
This kinda goes again the whole idea of the post, but I love natural wood. I think each room should include some natural elements in the design, and a beautiful piece of wooden furniture is the perfect place to do that. I actually don’t have a ton of examples of this, but I am currently on the hunt for two vintage dressers that I can use and leave beautiful and natural.
Natural wood furniture posts – farmhouse table
4. Paint part of it and leave other parts wood
This is one of my favorite ways to redo furniture, it gives you the best of both worlds. Popular ways of doing this is to paint everything but the top, paint everything but the drawers, or to just paint the drawers and leave the rest wood.
5. Add a design using stain
This technique gives beautiful results and is surprisingly easy. All you need is a flat surface, a few colors of stain,and some painters tape.
Stain design posts – union jack coffee table
6. Stencil it.
Stencils are a great way to add interest to your furniture. They are simple to use, fairly inexpensive, and can be used many many times (on more than just furniture!).
7. Hand paint a pattern
Maybe you don’t have a stencil, don’t want to spend money on one, or just can’t find one you love. You still have lots of options! If you have a steady hand and a little artistic talent you can just hand paint a design onto your furniture. Even if you have no artistic talent you can do something like I did on my toy box – that design is done with a pattern I printed off the internet, transferred to a cereal box, and traced.
8. Give it the dirty cowboy treatment
Yes, the Dirty Cowboy Treatment, you read that correctly. This is my own twist on distressing furniture and you can GO HERE to read a full tutorial. If you don’t want your furniture to look pristine and new, but don’t want to look like it’s been through a hurricane then this is the look for you.
9. Distress it
I’m not huge on distressing furniture, but I do like to give my my pieces a very slight distressing,…mostly because my kids are going to dent, chip, and distress it anyway, so I might as well be prepared. Distressing is incredibly easy to do, you literally just take sandpaper and sand the parts of the piece where paint would wear off after time (raised areas, corners, near handles, etc). You can do this lightly with fine grit sandpaper, heavier with gritty sandpaper, or you can take and orbital sander to it and distress the living daylights out if it…your call.
10. Add textured wallpaper
This is another very easy way to add some subtle personality to your furniture. You can purchase the textured (and paintable!) wallpaper at hardware stores or you can buy it on Amazon. It’s simple to apply, I just used mod podge, painted it to match, and caulked the edges. For a full tutorial you can read the post below.
Textured wallpaper posts – crappy $5 table
11. Upholster with a fun fabric
Evidently for me, “fun fabric” means blues, greens, and white, haha. I like what I like! If your furniture needs some new upholstery then be bold and grab something fun. Look at that rocker, for example…. it wouldn’t be nearly as awesome if it had been upholstered something solid or neutral.
12. Upholster it with a dropcloth
Yes, a dropcloth…like the scratchy fabric thing that you buy at hardware stores to catch paint. It makes a great material for furniture… it’s thick, durable, neutral, and relatively inexpensive. It almost has a natural fiber look, and if you throw it in the wash it actually comes out quite soft.
Dropcloth furniture posts – barstools
13. Add something unexpected
Add something to your furniture that wasn’t there before. In the picture above I used scrapbook paper to give my file cabinet a tiled herringbone look, and I added yardsticks to my kids stepstool (which I think looks awesome). You can seriously add anything -nailhead trim, expanded metal, pennies, buttons, new hardware, photos, mirrors, tiles, stones, fabric, washers….do I need to continue?
14. Give it a new purpose
Before you get rid of an old piece of furniture take a closer look and see if it can serve another purpose. Dressers in particular are great for this, they are super versatile. I made one into a bathroom vanity and I have sitting in my garage waiting to be transformed into a media center, but you could also use them as buffets, changing tables, benches, bookshelves, sofa tables, potting benches, hall tables, kitchen islands, and a variety of other things.
15. Combine any of the above suggestions
I’m sure you noticed that most of my projects were repeated a few times, and that’s because I usually do a few techniques on a single piece of furniture. The paisley stenciled table, for example, was painted a fun color, had natural wood, was stenciled, distressed, and dirty cowboyed. The hexagon leaf table was painted white, had a hand panted pattern, distressed, and glazed. Oh my gosh, glazed! I forgot to add that one. Surprise bonus way #16 – glaze your furniture. Haha. But really, just have fun with it. Break the rules., try new things you’re not sure will work, and make it yours.