How to Redo Furniture: Easy DIY Ideas to Transform Pieces

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Discover easy and affordable ways to update furniture and give your old pieces a fresh new look. Transform your home decor with these simple DIY tips and creative ideas.

how to redo furniture old buffet

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When it comes to furniture over the years, I haven’t been afraid to get my hands a little dirty— but within limits.

Jordan builds, while I love a great painting project. He knows that I am always looking for old furniture to makeover. I enjoy it– and the house looks just a little less cookie-cutter. And on a budget! How could he ever disagree??  [For the record? Often.]

And I’m here to say that if this busy, no-skill mom can make ugly old furniture beautiful, so can you!

Updating old furniture can be a fun and cost-effective way to refresh your home decor. Whether you have a cherished heirloom or a thrift store find, a few simple updates can make a world of difference! Today, we’ll dive into various techniques to breathe new life into your furniture, from painting and refinishing to reupholstering and accessorizing. Get ready to transform your space with these creative and budget-friendly ideas!


buffet furniture makeover

Before You Get Started Modernizing Your Furniture

Before embarking on your furniture redo journey, it’s crucial to assess the current state of your pieces. Start by closely inspecting the structural integrity; ensure there aren’t any loose joints or major repairs needed.

Evaluate the surface for any existing finishes, such as paint or varnish, and consider how they might impact your chosen redo technique. Take note of unique features or intricate details that could be enhanced or highlighted during the transformation process. This initial assessment will guide you in selecting the appropriate redo method and set realistic expectations for the level of refurbishment needed.

Remember, the key is to identify the potential in your furniture, whether it’s a solid wood dresser or a charming vintage chair, and envision the possibilities before diving into the redo process.


Old Furniture Pieces that You Can Update

Looking to modernize or outfit your home on a budget? Be on the lookout for these types of items the next time you are on Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade or OfferUp apps.

  1. Wooden Coffee Table:
    • Potential for sanding and staining or a creative paint makeover.
  2. Dining Room Chairs:
    • Ideal for beginners to practice basic upholstery or a fresh coat of paint.
  3. Laminate Dresser:
    • A great candidate for painting or decoupage to transform its appearance.
  4. Wicker Chair:
    • Perfect for experimenting with spray paint or updating the cushions for a modern look.
  5. Metal Bar Stools:
    • An opportunity to explore metal-friendly paint techniques or change the seat material.
  6. Bedside Tables:
    • Small enough for a quick makeover, such as a stylish paint color or decoupage.
  7. Old Bookshelf:
    • Transform with a bold color, decorative wallpaper backing, or a distressed finish.
  8. Vintage Sideboard:
    • Explore advanced techniques like two-tone painting or intricate stencil designs.
  9. Mid-Century Modern Desk:
    • A classic piece that can be revitalized with a sleek paint finish or new hardware.
  10. Upholstered Bench:
    • Practice reupholstering with a simple bench, and experimenting with fabric patterns.
  11. Cane-backed Chair:
    • Update with a contemporary paint color or replace the cane for a modern twist.
  12. Antique Vanity:
    • Ideal for more advanced beginners, with the potential for intricate detailing or a distressed finish.

These furniture items offer a range of styles and materials, providing beginners with diverse opportunities to experiment with different redo techniques, from basic painting to more advanced upholstery and intricate detailing.

9 No-Fail Ways On How to Redo Furniture

The next time you find scroll past an ugly piece in Facebook’s Marketplace, a Buy/Sell group, or even if you’ve been meaning to finally do something about a piece in your home, I wanted to share 8 ways you can update a piece of furniture!

And all are relatively easy. They’ll cost you your time and muscle power, but that’s about the extent of it.



How to remove paint and varnish from wood furniture!

1. Strip the Paint and Add a Clear Wax

If you’re a complete lover of all things wood, this may be your best option. Skip if your piece of furniture isn’t real wood, or is made of particle board. For our buffet makeover, I stripped the entire piece using this paint stripper.

Once you have your entire piece stripped, use a natural wax to bring it back to its best days. I like to use clear wood wax because not only does it protect the wood, but it shows off its natural colors. Keep reading below if you want to add a darker color.


This DIY wine rack is perfect for holding 2 bottles on a table top! Simply use your Kreg Jig and a few other tools to build it for just a few dollars!  #wine #DIY #home #winerack #homeproject


2. Paint It

Jordan will probably roll his eyes at this one, but I love painting everything I can get my hands on. My go-to paint is always Fusion Mineral paint. It makes beginners like me have projects that look amazing. I used FMP for the bottom of my beloved buffet makeover in Midnight Blue.


Related Fusion Mineral Paint Posts You Might Like:

You can read all about my Fusion Mineral paint review above and also see 13 Fusion neutrals next to each other if you’re debating between colors!

old walnut stain


3. Stain It

Right behind painting, I love making over the furniture with stain. But be warnedtest out your stain in a small spot to see how the stain takes to your piece.

While we have a favorite stain, we know that it can look very different on different types of wood. To overcome this, we will stain our piece 2 different colors to give the shade we love so much.

You can choose to buy your stain from any big box retailer or you can make your own! I’ve never made my own recipe, but you can find several great ideas here.

Staining a piece versus painting furniture is definitely a personal preference! You can find warmth and modern tones of stain, just like you can go classic all-white paint or something bright like yellow.

Have I mentioned how much I love restoring furniture?
It’s the easiest way to make a custom piece that is for you– and you can do it in one weekend!


A Busy Moms review of Fusion Mineral Paint. Click to see if this paint is good for beginners!

Download your furniture refinishing shopping list right here! You can keep track of supplies and planning your step all in one place!



4. Add Furniture Wax

If you have a piece that is stripped already or just could use new wax, consider adding a darkened wax to it. First, clean your piece and follow any prep directions for your wax.

When I painted my buffet a few years ago, I topped it off with Espresso Wax from Homestead House. It made the entire piece look a little darker and less perfect. I wiped wax across the entire piece and wiped it off. I left a little extra wax where it would naturally ‘age.’


5. Clean It!

Sometimes, all your next project needs is a good scrubbing.

You may already have a favorite cleaner, but I like using Simple Green for most outdoor / non-wood furniture. Lauren from Bless’er House showed pretty impressive results when she cleaned her new trash to treasure find!

If you have a power washing system, you may be able to get even better results (on the stuff that can handle it of course).

The next time you see a buy/sell post with old furniture, think of the possibilities with just some elbow grease! No paint or wax needed!


spray paint collage

6. Spray Paint Secondhand Furniture

I think of spray paint as being the final option for making over great furniture. The biggest reason? While it’s incredibly cheap, I struggle to avoid the drip lines. And honestly, Jordan is way better at being patient with spray painting than I am.

However, a can of spray paint can do wonders to the furniture you already have on-hand! You can choose to make a piece bright and shiny statement piece, or you can even use matte spray paint to make it look aged. 

The fun part about spray paint is that there is usually minimal prep work and you can be finished in an afternoon. Pick a punchy color for small pieces like tables and plant stands! Wouldn’t this color look great all year long?

Spray paint options are so large that this isn’t your dad’s bright red color anymore.

If you’re ready to tackle a big spray painting project, I’ve found this How to Flawlessly Paint Spray Furniture tutorial super helpful.


7. Add New Hardware

If you find yourself liking the color of a piece already, but think there’s something about it that seems outdated, consider swapping out the hardware.

You can add lots of personality from stores like IKEA, Amazon, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, or even Lowe’s.

For less than a few dollars a pull, swapping out hardware can make a big impact without taking too much work.

Create your own two tone furniture project in only a few steps! Perfect for busy moms!

8. Swap Out the Legs

Add a little extra pizzazz by changing out your piece’s legs. Before you do this, turn your piece on its side to see what it would take to remove the current legs. If it looks simple enough, you can buy fun hairpin legs, modern legs, or even some craftsman style legs online. Take this opportunity to change up the piece’s height to make it fit your space.

Need more convincing? This article shows 19 Before & Afters to show how much impact swapping out furniture legs can do for your piece!


updating upholstery on chair

9. Reupholster Your Favorite Pieces

Modernize existing furniture by re-covering the fabric on the furniture you already own. Older pieces have terrific bones, but designs from the 80s or 90s may not fit your decor style. This tutorial on beginner guide on upholstery is really helpful. If you have a bigger project, I recommend asking for a local upholstery reference in your local Facebook groups! 



how to redo furniture idea list

How to Redo Furniture FAQs for Beginners:

Can I redo furniture without any DIY experience?

Absolutely! Many projects cater to beginners. Start with simple techniques like painting before progressing to more advanced methods.


Create your own two tone furniture project in only a few steps! Perfect for busy moms!

What tools do I need to get started?

Basic tools include sandpaper, paintbrushes, and a staple gun. As you progress, you can invest in additional tools based on the techniques you want to explore.

Our DIY favorites:

Is it possible to redo upholstered furniture without professional help?

Absolutely! Tutorials and step-by-step guides make reupholstering accessible. Choose a simple project like a dining chair to start and build your skills from there.

How do I choose the right color or finish for my furniture?

Consider your existing decor and personal style. Neutral colors are versatile, while bold choices can make a statement. Experiment with paint samples before committing.

Can I redo furniture on a tight budget?

Absolutely! Thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces offer affordable furniture. Additionally, DIY supplies can often be found at budget-friendly prices from Amazon, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.

Now that you have these 9 ideas for updating old furniture, you can make a piece fit perfectly in your home in no time. The next time you feel compelled to make something with your hands, find an old chair or buffet and start cleaning! Secondhand furniture doesn’t need to look drab, modernize it today.

Don’t forget to download your furniture refinishing shopping list right here! You can keep track of supplies and planning your step all in one place!


sign off keeping it simple, Brittany


how to update furniture

DIY dresser makeover
old furniture makeover

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  1. It’s great you talked about the many different ways to be able to give old furniture a second chance at life, like giving it a new coating of paint or otherwise refinishing it so that it looks like new again. Another thing to watch out for while refinishing furniture is that you can practically get away with redecorating it without having to worry if it’s going to look ugly or not. If I had the chance to get some refinished furniture then I wouldn’t mind scattering some around the house to give it a much more homey look.

  2. I love this idea of updating old furniture with new fabric and paint! It’s a great way to update a room without having to spend a lot of money.

  3. Great ideas! I love the idea of repurposing old furniture and giving it new life with some simple DIY projects. It’s a great way to save money, reduce waste, and add your own personal touch to your home decor. Thanks for sharing these easy-to-follow tutorials!

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