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Re-Purposed Furniture: Turn Something Old and Dated Into Something Fresh and New with Paint

Recycling furniture with paint is a hot trend in furnishings today, and if you’re even semi-handy with a paint brush, you can get a fantastic piece on the cheap. You might have a hand-me-down bureau or headboard that is downright ugly and dated, but with a bit of inventiveness, the piece can be transformed and get a new life as a brand new and elegant piece of furniture you will be proud to display.

Look for something that is solid and has good bones. If it’s wobbly or falling apart, it’s not worth reinventing it unless you spend a few pennies to have it repaired first. Unless it’s something that belonged to grandma and has sentimental value, just skip it and look for something else.

If you don’t already have something that you’d like to upcycle, you can scour flea markets, garage sales, consignment shops or other similarly inexpensive shops to score a piece worthy of a revamp. If you are new to furniture recycling, it’s best to start with a smaller piece, such as a wood chair or side table to start honing your skills.

Start by lightly sanding the piece to create a surface that new paint can stick to. You don’t need to remove the original finish entirely; you simply want to give fresh paint the ability to easily grab onto the top. If there are any scratches or nicks on the piece that you are not happy with you can simply do a bit a more sanding in those spots, but typically those imperfections (as seen in photo 1) add a lot of character so most folks ignore them and see it as good patina.

Choose a good quality water-based paint in your favorite color that will go with your existing décor. White is always a great classic choice for recycling a piece and gives a desirable shabby chic look, but you can pretty much do whatever you like and let your creativity soar. If a lime green chair is your heart’s desire, go for it! Give your piece at least two coats of paint, and allow enough dry time in between each coat. You can try chalk paint and spray paint on pieces as well

If you want to give the appearance of age or patina to your project, simply wait until it’s fully dried and then get a piece of sandpaper and lightly scuff the edges to give the appearance of wear. Let the color that is underneath your paint show through in spots that would normally have gotten a lot of use, such as in corners, edges or handles.

Dining chairs (as seen in photo 2) are a breeze to update because it’s as simple as a bit of paint and recovering the seat cushion with a fresh fabric. Simply turn the chair over and remove the screws that are holding the seat in place. Typically you will find that the material covering the seat is stapled on, so all you need to do is remove it and grab a staple gun and replace that fabric with one you love. Screw the seat back on and voila! You’ve got a brand new chair.

Unless you’ve got a lot of experience or a fat wallet, avoid furnishings that need to be fully reupholstered such as a couch or recliner. Something like this requires expertise to tackle and can get expensive, so it’s best to leave that to the experts.

The great thing is that if you don’t like how a piece has turned out, you can simply select another color and begin again; or if you get bored with the current hue of your chair, simply reinvent the piece again for a fresh new look.

All photos courtesy of the author.