Secondhand furniture is inexpensive and can easily be upgraded. Here are some ways to update used furnishings.
Things You'll Need
- Brass Nailhead Trim
- Disposable Foam Brushes
- Chair Cushions
- Clean Rags
- Custom-cut Mirrors
- Glass Tabletops
- Paint Strippers
- Steel Wool Pads
- Table Runners
- Tiles And Supplies
- Wood-tone Crayons
- Mineral Spirits
- Rubber Gloves
- Old Newspapers
- Linseed Oils
- Drawer Hardware
- Multiuse Screws
- Safety Goggles
- Staple Guns
Sand lightly, or use a liquid sanding product, and then paint wooden pieces (chairs, shelves, tables, sideboards) where the clear-coated finish has seen better days. Painted 'antique' and faux finishes are popular; checkerboard and squiggle designs also are fun; or you may want to embellish that painted piece with decoupage.
Disguise a bad tabletop by having a mirror cut to cover the entire table, edge to edge. This works for dining tables and side tables, too.
Or you can hide a bad tabletop with a layer of ceramic tile. Use molding or sanded, varnished wood strips at the edges of the tile to fill to the perimeter of the table.
Reupholster a dining-table chair that has a pop-out seat. It's easy: Remove the old fabric and then cover with new fabric, using a staple gun to fasten it on the seat bottom. Make it taut but don't stretch it.
Cover up soiled or worn upholstery fabric on a dining chair by purchasing or sewing a new chair pad that ties onto the back of the chair. A chair pad with a ruffle on the front and sides usually hides the old upholstery completely.
Camouflage the blemished upholstery on a sofa or easy chair with a quilt (even an inexpensive moving-company quilt). Tuck it down deeply behind the back of the cushions.
Cover up the soiled arms of an upholstered chair or sofa by draping a pretty table runner over each arm.
Apply decorative brass-nailhead trim to hide nicked edges on wood furnishings such as tabletop edges and shelving.
Upgrade file cabinets, bookcases or Parsons tables by covering them with textured wallpaper (the type that mimics plaster friezes or pressed-tin ceilings). Then paint and glaze the piece - aged metallic finishes look spectacular on furniture.
Renew dull clear-coat finishes - varnishes, lacquer and the like - by cleaning with mineral spirits and possibly ultrafine steel wool; then apply a new coat of finish over the old (test first in an inconspicuous spot). This is a great way to save a picture frame or tabletop.
Revive an old trunk or cedar chest by scrubbing the exterior and lining the inside with wallpaper or by stapling in a tightly woven fabric, such as a new bed sheet. A flat braid can hide seams and corner imperfections.
Wrap a badly damaged lamp table or nightstand with fabric. The fabric can be fitted, almost like a slipcover, in a box shape for a rectangular table or draped over a round table; have glass cut for the top so that a nonwashable fabric won't be easily soiled.
Replace ugly, dated drawer pulls and knobs on a classically shaped chest of drawers, sideboard or similar piece.
Touch up small nicks and scratches on stained wooden pieces with special crayons (sold at paint and hardware stores) - or even an eyebrow pencil or shoe polish.
Tips & Warnings
- Altering the finish on any piece of furniture that might be a fine antique could reduce its value tremendously. Have a qualified person examine and appraise the piece for you first.
- Be especially cautious about upgrading old baby furniture. Crib slats on older furniture may be so far apart that they pose a strangulation hazard for the baby; old painted finishes may contain lead.
How to Update a Bedroom on a Budget
When money is tight, it is difficult to justify spending it on things that would make your home more beautiful. Your home,...
How to Renew Teak Wood
Finished teak usually does not need much care but unfinished teak may require care to renew the wood. Unfinished indoor and outdoor...
How to Mix Antiques & Modern Decor
Deciding on a style for your home can be tough. Often there are elements of many periods that may appeal to you....
How to Make a Room With Wood Furniture Look Modern
Regardless of your design efforts, sometimes a room with wood furniture, especially dated, antique or vintage-looking pieces, whispers -- or shouts --...
How to Renew My Sofa, Chair & Loveseat
As times change, so do furniture styles. That sofa, chair or loveseat you bought a few years ago might not be looking...
How to Renew Your Sofa
When you purchase a sofa, you are making an investment in a piece of furniture that will not only be the centerpiece...