How to Give New Life to Old Furniture

Owning a home is expensive. If you want to update your home’s interior on a budget, there are affordable ways for homeowners to make impactful upgrades.

Whether you’re looking to make quick updates to sell your home quickly or simply want to change your home’s look to get more enjoyment out of your space, here are eight tips for restoring and modernizing old furniture that won’t break the bank.

1. Replace the legs

One of the easiest ways to quickly revive a tired piece of furniture is to swap out the legs.

Whether it’s a dresser, table, or chair, switching the hardware can instantly change your furniture’s entire look. Hairpin legs can add a midcentury touch, while chrome or wavy wooden legs can offer a modern twist.

If you don’t love the current height of a piece of furniture, new legs offer an easy and affordable solution.

2. Add wallpaper

If you love your grandfather’s old bookcase but feel a little uninspired when you look at it, consider enhancing it with a patterned wallpaper. Floral prints can make a piece of furniture look more moody, while art deco patterns can add a whimsical flair. Contemporary patterns can keep your furniture looking classy and elevated, while subtle patterns offer a hint of intrigue.

If you’re afraid you won’t like the new look, peel-and-stick wallpaper is a low-commitment option  that is easy to remove. If it’s stuck too strongly to the wall, use a blow dryer or heat gun when you grow tired of it.

3. Apply new stain

For wooden pieces in need of attention, consider sanding them down and applying new stain. You can touch up the color if you like the original finish or change it altogether for a new look.

Sand between coats, and always use a polyurethane to protect the stain and add a finishing shine. This will also help protect the finish if you decide to sell your home and need to move the piece to a new location.

4. Apply a fresh coat of paint

Old wooden furniture can add richness to any home decor scheme, but if you don’t feel comfortable restoring it, painting is an easier way to salvage your furniture. You should still lightly sand any rough edges to ensure an even coat, but other than that, you don’t need any tools besides a good brush. Plus, painting over furniture is easy to do again and again if you want to change it a few years later.

5. Swap the hardware

Small details can make all the difference, and switching the hardware on a piece of furniture can have a dramatic impact. Ditching the old cabinet pulls and replacing them with a bold pattern or modern brass option will create an entirely fresh look.

You don’t have to spend a lot to switch your knobs either. If you already like the shape or style, you can spray paint them a different color. There’s even metallic spray paint in gold, silver, brass, and copper hues, so you can get a metallic effect without the large price tag.

6. Reupholster fabrics

If you love the shape of your antique chair but never use it because the fabric has seen better days, consider new fabric and cushioning options. You should work with a professional upholsterer to have your furniture recovered, but you can tackle smaller projects — such as wooden chairs — yourself. Simply remove the old upholstery, replace the cushioning if needed, and add new fabric. Use a staple gun underneath the seat to hold the fabric taut.

7. Add overlays or decals

If the old furniture you’re dealing with is too plain for your taste, consider adding decals or overlays to add texture. Many online artists on Etsy and Amazon sell custom-sized decals and overlays so you can find the right fit for any piece of furniture. This can work well on drawers or cabinets.

8. Add tambour

For furniture that has a big stain or needs a complete makeover, consider adding tambour details. Tambour is a style of paneling in which small panels of wood are placed closely together to form a striped pattern. You can find custom-cut tambour or cut and space pieces yourself. Use a nail gun or wood glue to install it, and stain or paint the paneling to match your furniture when you’re done.

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