Jul 24, 2012

New life for old furniture.

When you have a dated looking curio, table, dresser, hutch or other piece - not an antique - what can you do to update it? The construction is likely very sturdy, with dowels and dove-tail versus staples.  Even if the style isn't what you have in your home but you can't part with it, here are some ideas to re-use and re-purpose.

1) Change the color. Paint and stain are simple ways to change pieces.  This brown oak armoire became dining room curio with an ivory interior (and glass insets may be next in the doors) and a distressed paint finish. Whether you add distressing or paint antiquing is up to you.  Do a finish that works for the style of your home and that you feel comfortable with. Keep in mind that some distressed finishes will hide mistakes you make, and even help make a very damaged piece look fabulous!

2) Decoupage. Don't forget fabric and paper.  They are easy ways to transform furniture. Covering door and drawer fronts with decoupage fabrics and decorative papers create tremendous changes very quickly. Don't do the entire piece; instead, cover the door insets, drawer fronts, or even just the top and sides. 

3) Change the details. Add, remove or change design details like moldings, legs, and embellishments. If you can do it, making the legs larger or smaller can also change the height; you can transform coffee tables into desks that way!  

4) Change the function. Use an old dresser as a sideboard. Take out the drawers and use them as shelves in another way (see previous blogs for examples) and place baskets into the drawer spaces.  Here, a brown and shabby 9 drawer chest becomes a dove gray storage unit for crafts and toys in a family room. 

5) Re-finish. More challenging but the results can be amazing. This piece was a painted dresser with floral embossing.  After stripping and staining, it's a classic chest.

6) Change the hardware. Such a simple way to make a new statement.  Take the painted wooden knobs off and do something dramatic or interesting.

7) Stencil on a design.  It's easy to add a pattern or drawing to a plain piece with stencils. If you're artistic you can even draw your own.