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July 16, 2013

Quick Guide to Repurposing Furniture

by Kim


If you read my Top Home Décor Trends for 2013 post, you will remember that painted furniture is a hot trend right now. You can’t be a fan of Pinterest, Etsy or Houzz without noticing the fascination with upcycling, refurbishing and repurposing old furniture.

Upcycling utilizes materials that would have been left behind such as barn wood, steel, old doors and gym floors and outdated furniture. Many creative artisans are building new sustainable furniture from materials that would have landed in the dump.

For those of us who are not quite that industrial, we can join the upcycling craze while adding unique, one-of-a-kind style to a room by repurposing old furniture with a new coat of paint and updated fabric.  I have been amazed and inspired by all the Pinterest pins I have seen where Pinners have taken a boring Ikea dresser or outdated nightstand and turned it into a contemporary show stopper simply by painting it a great color and replacing the drawer pulls. Not only does the refurbished piece add one of a kind personality to the room, but it also keeps outdated furniture from ultimately ending up in the landfill. Reupolstery classes are popping up at local colleges as more and more homeowners take an interest in updating old chairs with colorful, contemporary fabrics.

Recently my daughter and I set out to try our first DIY refurbishing project. Having just moved into a small downtown condo and being on a tight budget, she needed a space-saving TV console and desired something bright and funky.  Perfect time to try our first upcycling project!

Find your material

There are many places you can look – garage sales and Craigslist are my favorites for finding repurposing treasures.  It didn’t take us long to find an outdated credenza on Craigslist for this project – solid wood by Henredon, and the perfect size for $50 –steal!

Repurposing Furniture project step one: old credenza from craigslist

Before: Old Credenza 

We searched Pinterest and found many how-to pins that gave us the basic guidance and confidence we needed. Off to Lowes we went to purchase brushes, sandpaper, primer, Valspar interior semi gloss and Valspar Antiquing Glaze.

Prep your furniture

We started by removing the tarnished hardware and lightly sanding the cabinet.  You want to remove any old finishes on the surface, without over-sanding.  Lightly sanding the surface before painting prevents peeling and cracking later on – don’t skip this step!

Prime your surface

Next, we added one coat of quick-drying primer. Primer helps fill in cracks and holes in the surface you are painting, and protects the wood from water damage.  We also didn’t want the wood to absorb all our paint!  A good rule of thumb is to try to match the type of primer to the type of paint you’re using – for example, if you’re using a latex-based paint, you’ll want to choose a latex-based primer.

Paint your furniture!


Repurposing Furniture Project: After one coat of paint

After one coat of paint

Now for the fun stuff: adding paint! We used two full coats of paint, then added glaze. We found it very important to let each coat of paint dry a full day before applying the next. We were alarmed when we added the glaze – it is very brown and very streaky and we thought we had ruined the project!  Good thing is the glaze dries slowly, allowing you to rub off as much as you like and create interesting effects. We rubbed most of it off, leaving more in the cracks and crevices. This is when it really took on some personality!

Add the finishing touches

For a more distressed look, we did a little sanding on the corners let the original wood color show. With gold and brass being another 2013 trend, we decided to keep the cabinet pulls instead of replacing them.  We used Brasso to remove the tarnish on the antique brass cabinet pulls, bringing them to a beautiful shiny brass sheen.

Using an extra large drill bit, we drilled holes in the inside back of the cabinet to plug in the cable and DVR equipment and Voila! An inexpensive, unique, refurbished piece of furniture was born!


After: Our repuposed tv stand is contemporary and unique!

After: A unique, contemporary TV stand is born!

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Kim is a window treatment and drapery certified designer helping clients in Ottawa and surrounding Ontario communities find the perfect window treatments for their homes. She has more than 14 years of experience in interior design and window coverings.

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