How to Save or Reuse Old Furniture

How to Save or Reuse Old Furniture
  • Opening Intro -

    In today’s economy, throwing away out-dated, broken or just plain ugly furniture and buying new replacements isn’t always an affordable option.

    Furniture is a necessity, not just a luxury, but when furniture gets old and tired, buying new items to fill your home can cost the earth.

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By Alex Levin

Canny consumers, however, know that purchasing new furniture isn’t always the way forward. More and more people are choosing to revamp their old furniture, or buy cheap tables, chairs, wardrobes and sofas from their local thrift shop and give them a whole new look and feel.

Often, the only difference between an ugly old seat languishing in the back of a charity shop and a beautiful new chair taking pride of place in your living room is time spent on refurbishment. Learning to look beyond the finish of a piece of furniture to reveal the construction, design and material underneath is really all it takes – plus a small financial investment.

Giving Old Furniture New Life

There are plenty of ways to give old furniture new life, and usually all that is required is a little forethought and a lot of imagination. Follow these steps to make the most of what you’ve got, on a shoestring…

  1. Evaluate your furniture. Look to see if it needs any repair, then fix it. You don’t want to paint a table that has a large crack in it, do you? Similarly, you’ll need to restuff that couch and fix that wobbly back leg before you start reupholstering. Remember, if you choose to stint on repairs now, you’ll pay for it later.
  2. Look at the finish. Many pieces of old furniture will need to be stripped then sanded before you can start a refurbishment project. Some, however, will be good to go.
  3. Purchase your tools and tricks. Want to paint a table bright orange? Get everything you need before you start, from a dust cover to protect the floor to the paint and brushes. You might also need to purchase a few safety items, such as goggles, depending on the project.
  4. Get a workspace. Can you paint in your back garden, or do you need to work in the garage? Decide where you want to carry out your project, and don’t forget to consider things out of your control like the weather and visits from your in-laws. Then, it’s time to get working!

Types of Projects

How you choose to proceed is up to you – and whether you want to make use of what you have or buy cheap charity stock and transform it is also a personal choice. Here are some basic ideas to get you going…

  • Old, dark, conventional pieces. Worried that your dark brown antique buffet table will look out of place in your new home – but you love the shape? Worry no more. Painting old furniture in bright, bold colors is the way to go. Paint the buffet table bright green, then add matching green cushions and a green couch throw. Blending together old and new is the recipe for success when it comes to making things work throughout your home. You might want to think about a motif that can run throughout a specific room or your entire home, a marine theme or shabby chic look, for example.
  • Wardrobes. Small wardrobes can be stripped, sanded and painted white for children’s rooms. Add colored knobs for a funky new look. What little girl wouldn’t love a white wardrobe with bright pink glass knobs in her room, or knobs in the shape of flowers or butterflies? The beauty part is that you can change the knobs as she gets older for a whole new look. Larger wardrobes can be painted to match the décor in your house – use shiny black gloss, for example, for a sleek new appearance. Alternatively, paint a wardrobe in bright colors – you can paint panels different shades, if you want – for a statement piece.
  • Reupholstering. Dusty old wooden-framed chairs can look sleek and new by painting the wood in a bright gloss paint, then reupholstering. Choose a color you like, then match the fabric. Keep in mind that if you actually want to sit on the chair, delicate fabrics won’t work. Most people want their home seating to be both decorative and functional, so pick accordingly. You’ll need ribbon and adhesive glue to keep it in place, as well as upholstery tacks and a staple gun.
  • Wooden tables, desks and cupboards. Refinishing is the key to success, and whether you want to paint or sand down to restore the original finish is up to you. Kitchen cupboards can gain a whole new lease of life through simple repainting, while desks can look completely different through a coat of gloss and a new stencil design. Stripping to the bare wood, priming and adding designs is definitely the new way to go!

Upcycling: Recycling Old Furniture to Make Something New

Taking old items and making something new can be more of a statement than simply adding paint. Have a few small filing cabinets and an old door? Turn the door on its side and create a functional, hard-working desk. Some people even turn discarded shopping carts into chairs – it’s all called “upcycling” and it’s the latest trend in green home improvements. Here are a few upcycling ideas:

  • Turn plastic bottles into chandeliers
  • Make an Adirondack chair from old baseball bats, or from an old wardrobe
  • Turn an iron into a bedside lamp for that unique, retro look
  • Transform a claw-footed bathtub into a couch or planter
  • Make a functional, modern-looking coffee table from a discarded dishwasher drum

Refurbishing old furniture is a lot easier than you might think – and is also a lot of fun. Once you get the hang of it, you might even think of selling your creations to the public. Something as simple as repainting the legs of an out-dated wing chair and reupholstering it in a contemporary duck egg fabric can add value to an object and make it a lot easier to fit in with today’s modern surroundings. Have you inherited Granny’s antique sideboard? Modern paint can transform it into a conversation piece your friends will covet.

Making use of old furniture is not only the cheaper option when it comes to redecorating, it also keeps products out of landfills and is better for the environment. Repainting also is a fantastic way to mask imperfections, and allow you to hold onto furniture that previously you would have thought of throwing away. Whether you choose the French shabby chic look or paint dark pieces in bold, primary colors, you’ll be doing your wallet a favor – and the planet as well!

Author Information

Alex Levin is a writer for Lance Surety Bonds Associates, a bond agency offering hassle-free construction bonds.

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