5 Ways to Update Old Furniture

The following post is from Myra of My Blessed Life:

source: rehkamplarson

Old furniture is beautiful.  Many pieces are sentimental – passed down from generation to generation. Others are rescued from thrift shops, estate sales and antique shops. The quality and character that old furniture is amazing. Each piece was made with a finesse that the factory produced pieces made today just can’t beat.

It is very common for older furniture to have water damage, a chipped finish and worn upholstery. Often, repairs and updates to old furniture can be done yourself.  Here are a few ways to update old furniture.


If you want to keep a piece’s beautiful wood grain, but repair the dings, scratches and finish, then refinishing is your best bet. Whether stripping the old finish off, sanding and cleaning, or staining and waxing, the process can be very time consuming, but it’s not a difficult process.


At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the process of refinishing a piece of furniture. So, paint is my furniture makeover tool-of-choice.  If you are a furniture painting newbie, then research is key to success. It is important to use an oil-based primer to block stain from coming through. You can use latex paint over the oil-based paint.  Distressing and waxing is always a nice touch to give painted furniture extra character and charm.  Another paint option is chalk paint which is becoming very popular because it is better for the environment and is very user-friendly.

source: miss mustard seed


Besides painting, using decoupage on drawer fronts and table tops is a fun way to add extra interest and texture to furniture.  Sheet music, wrapping paper and scrapbook paper are great options for decoupage.  If you’re looking for an easy way to cover up furniture blemishes, then decoupage is the way to go!


One of my favorite details to add to a furniture makeover is a stencil.  Stenciling is easy and cheap because you just need a stencil, paintbrush and paint.  It does require a little patience, but the results are spectacular. Last Summer, I gave a laminate nightstand a makeover with spray paint, and I then added a decorative stencil to the top.

source: fabulouskblog


Replacing the upholstery on a piece of furniture can completely transform it. Whether you choose to hire the job out or do-it-yourself, re-upholstering furniture is often a great option – especially if the furniture is well made.  Recovering dining chair seats is a simple process that I’ve done over the years.  Re-upholstering a chair or sofa intimidates me, but I know it can be done. I plan to try my hand at a chair re-upholstering project soon.

I hope you’re inspired to look at older furniture in a different way.  Just imagine how great a piece can be with a little extra updating love.

Out of these five ways to update old furniture, have you ever tried any?

Myra has a B.A. in Interior Design and is currently self-employed. When she’s not spending time with her little man, thrifting, creating, shopping or working on a project, Myra enjoys date nights with her husband and blogging at My Blessed Life.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I love these suggestions. I’ve never tried to makeover any furniture, but I have an end table in my living room that is ruined thanks to a bunch of water/iced tea spills over the years. Would these techniques work even on super cheap furniture?  think I paid $15 at Ames ten years ago (remember Ames?), so I’m not sure what kind of wood is even under there.

  2. I love the idea of decoupage. A trunk would be cool.

  3. I’ve enjoyed your article today!  I’ve stenciled and decopaged although not on furniture, and I have done the other techniques with furniture.  I’m currently taking an upholstery class at a local community college.  I had to stop buying thrift store furniture because I was running out of room!

  4. Hubs and I have refinished antique furniture, taken apart and reupholstered chairs like the one you show in this piece, and I slipcovered a few pieces.  Hubs has never liked to paint wood, but I think I’m winning him over with all the things I show him from by blog subscriptions, including yours!

  5. I am seeking an answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries! It has to do with re-making a high-back tufted chair…one with all the buttons on the back. I love the woodwork (carving) on this chair and just can’t bear to ditch it.  Couldn’t I just put padding over the tufting and make a smooth back? It would totally change the look, but as I said, I can’t part with the frame!!!!!! Anyone had experience with this?

  6. Hi Ellen!  I haven’t seen anyone do this, but it seems to me that if your padding/foam is thick enough it should work just beautifully. 🙂

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