Do-It-Yourself: Reclaiming Old Furniture

If you shop flea markets, yard sales, or thrift stores, you’ve undoubtedly seen some pieces of furniture and thought, “That must have been beautiful once.” If a piece is in good condition, it can be beautiful again, if you know how to draw out the beauty.

When looking at used furniture, consider these things before you buy:

  • Is it structurally sound? Wiggle it a little. Touch it. Shake it. Does it seem wobbly, does it warp when you move it? If so, you can probably find a piece in better condition that you can more easily work with.
  • Is it a good shape? Many people get so caught up in the condition or color of a piece, they forget to look at the shape. Most things about a piece of furniture can be changed, but without reassembling a piece, the shape is going to remain. If you like the shape, it might be worth the effort of working with.
  • Do you have a place for it? Ah, that’s the kicker! When you find a beautiful piece of furniture, it can be tempting just to grab it, but if you don’t have a place in mind for it, it will likely sit as an unfinished project in your home for a while!

Three Pieces of Furniture That Are Easy to Remake

From Better Homes and Gardens, here are three pieces that if you find them (and they match the above criteria), you should go ahead and grab because they’re fairly easy to turn into something beautiful.

Ottomans. Here’s the thing about ottomans: they are extremely versatile. Use them as a foot rest, use them as a small table, use them as a seat—they can be utilized in so many ways, they are a great piece of furniture to have in your home.

Don’t be too nonplussed by the fabric (1970s leather? Not so much!) because a quick slipcover can fix that in no time. If you like to sew, a slipcover can be made for a round ottoman in no time. If you don’t like to sew, look for a non-sew option—there are many amazing things you can do with a little fabric glue.

Any wooden piece. Bookshelves, tables, media carts, dressers—if they’re in good condition, a new coat of paint may be all it takes to turn an old, dated piece into something fresh and great for your home. Sometimes sanding is needed, sometimes just primer and a few coats of paint will do the trick.

You can take a wooden piece from old to new in one day with the right paint.

Anything you can repurpose. It’s hard sometimes to look at a vanity and think, “Hey, that could be a great desk,” but try to look at pieces that way. If you don’t like what it is but it’s a strong piece, think about the things it could become!

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