In today's post, I thought I'd tackle a question I get asked all the time namely, “How can I update old furniture and bring it up-to-date?” If you're here, then you are obviously asking yourself the same question. Maybe you're just looking for ways to upcycle your old furniture and 'add a bit of spice' or perhaps you want to modernize your Granny's traditional dark brown furniture so that you can use it in one of the children's rooms.
Even if you just hate the look of your furniture but are broke and can't afford to buy new, this post contains plenty of savvy DIY ideas to help you upgrade, re-design or repurpose your old furniture and turn it into a forever piece that you'll love.
Whatever the reason, today we are going to take a look at some of the easiest ways you can update or revamp your old furniture and make it look more modern and new again.
Plan your DIY furniture makeover Project
When it comes to refurbishing old furniture for your home, embrace your unique style. Plan your DIY project well and create a design which complements your current home interior or if you are starting from scratch, how you eventually want your rooms to look.
The trick is, not to become intimidated if you've never painted or refurbished furniture before. With the right information and tools, pretty much anyone can update their old furniture with or without paint. Oh, and a little bit of time and elbow grease won't go amiss either!
Ways to update old furniture & make it look more modern
There are many ways to make old furniture look modern but before we plough ahead with design ideas there are a few things you need to think about before you begin.
Decide what needs updating
Take a good look at your old furniture and consider what it is that you don't like about this piece then, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the colour of the wood too dark or too light?
- Does it have missing, broken or chipped hardware?
- Would modern feet or legs transform the look of your furniture?
- Do the knobs and pulls need replacing?
- Is your furniture too fussy? Should you remove some of the trim or doors?
- Do you need to update your furniture on the inside, the outside or both?
- Will you need to refinish the metal?
- Does your old furniture have chipping paint, scratches or missing pieces?
Once you know the answer to these questions, you will have a better idea of how to give your frumpy furniture a modern makeover.
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Table of contents:
Because this post is so long, I've linked all the headings here. If you're only interested in one type of furniture updating process you can click the relevant heading below and jump straight there.
- Update old furniture with furniture transfers
- Update old furniture with decals
- Use baskets instead of drawers
- Update old furniture with wallpaper
- Update old furniture with liming wax
- Makeover old furniture with paint
Ways to update old furniture without paint
Updating old furniture doesn't always have to involve painting. Here are some clever ways to redesign and modernize your old dark furniture.
1.Update old furniture with furniture transfers
How do you use decorative furniture transfers?
Furniture transfers usually come in a roll and are very decorative. You can find various French-style or floral transfers which look stunning on dressers and farmhouse style furniture. You just place the transfer where you'd like it and rub it off the waxed paper onto the furniture. You can also cut the transfer to size if you only need to use a small part of it.
2. Update old furniture with decals
How do you apply furniture decals?
- Soak the furniture decal in warm water until the decal loosens.
- Carefully slide the decal onto the surface of the furniture and peel off the backing paper.
- Use a soft tissue or cloth to gently smooth over the decal and remove any water that may still be underneath.
- Leave to dry overnight.
- Add a layer of wax or varnish to protect the furniture decal so that it doesn't peel off.
Can wall decals be used on furniture?
Yes, I have used wall stencils on furniture. That said, I would only use wall decals on furniture which has a smooth surface.
Wall decals have a light sticky back so that you can remove them easily. If you use them on uneven or eggshell surfaces, they won't stick very well and may peel off.
3. Use baskets instead of drawers
Is your furniture missing a drawer? Simply replace it with a chic basket.
You could also just remove doors or drawers and use wire or wicker baskets in a dresser or hutch instead.
For more inspiration and ideas, see my Pinterest Board 'Update furniture with baskets'.
4. Update old furniture with wallpaper
If you ever wondered how to decoupage a chest of drawers with wallpaper? Here's how to do it:
- Use sandpaper or a sander to rough up the surface of the furniture.
- Apply wallpaper paste or Mod Podge to the area of the furniture where you want the wallpaper.
- Cut the wallpaper to size and apply it to the furniture.
How do you seal wallpaper on furniture?
This is just like decoupage so all you need to do is paint a layer of Mod Podge over the top of the wallpaper to seal it. The Mod Podge goes on white with a milky consistency but will dry translucent so you won't see it afterwards.
I've seen wallpaper used to wallpaper the back of a dresser or bookcase and the effect can be stunning.
For more inspiration and furniture wallpapering ideas, take a look at my Pinterest Board 'Update old furniture with wallpaper'.
Can you use peel and stick wallpaper to update furniture?
Yes! Using peel and stick wallpaper is a quick and easy way to update old furniture. The fact that it peels off easily, means that you can change up the style of your furniture whenever you feel the need.
I'm sure we've all had pieces of furniture which have made their rounds of the rooms in our homes from house to house. Peel and stick wallpaper is the perfect non-permanent solution for helping that furniture blend into its current home.
Do you think you will give your furniture a new lease of life with wallpaper?
5. Update old furniture with liming wax
Use liming wax to bring out the wood grain or give your furniture an aged or whitewashed look. Liming wax is also great for creating a dreamy driftwood finish.
If you've been reading this blog a while, you already know how to use liming wax but if you're new here, you can find out how I use it in the post, Riviera Maison inspired coffee table makeover.
6. Makeover old furniture with paint
How could I not mention this? You know, I'm a big fan of chalk paint and I've written extensively about my projects here on the blog so instead of writing about my furniture painting process again here, I'll provide some links for inspiration and DIY tutorials below.
Sometimes I'll distress furniture in the shabby chic style and sometimes I use a more classic finish.
You can see many of my before and after furniture redo projects in my last blog post: How to upcycle, refurbish & refinish your old furniture.
Now you know how to update old furniture
Now you know that just because you're stuck with hand-me-down furniture, it doesn't mean it has to stay dark brown or drab. There are many ways you can modernize traditional furniture.
Use your imagination to redesign your furniture so that it looks exactly like you've always wanted.
Don't forget to pin this for later!
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