worn out armchair
image: Dewayne Neeley

Sometimes the best duds come in a worn out package—when it comes to furniture at least. You can fill your home with furniture that fits your distinct style by giving slightly shabby pieces that you already own a do-it-yourself facelift.

Don’t have any items you want to replace? Have a little fun scouring flea markets, thrift stores and secondhand shops for bargain finds with cute decorating potential. Maybe the paint’s peeling on that vintage dresser, but does it offer unique details like a curvacious silhouette? The fabric on that stool might be looking a little threadbare, but maybe it has sturdy, detailed legs holding it up. Look past shabby exteriors and you’ll spot furniture with promise.

Found the makings for your revamped furniture? Turn that worn out gear into your new favorite pieces with these four revamping techniques.

Slick on the Paint

end table
image: amiefedora

If your furniture is lookin’ a little less shabby chic and a little more, well, just shabby, a coat of paint will perk it right up. Creams and whites are always a safe bet, but if you want to really bring that tired dresser or end table into modern day, paint it a crisp green, butter yellow or tart blue. Set your newly painted item in a room with a neutral palette to make it stand out. You could also dilute the paint with water to create a more muted wash.

Don’t forget to paint your new duds eco-style. Choose low- or zero-VOC paint. Volatile organic compounds in conventional paints can cause a range of health issues including respiratory problems, headache, itchy eyes and nausea. Some have even been linked to cancer, and kidney and liver problems. Opt for a healthier, more environmentally friendly option.

Cover It Up

Don’t think a coat of paint will do the trick? Turn a worn out dresser or old table into one fabulous piece of furniture by covering it in vintage wallpaper, maps or even old newspapers. You could use new wallpaper, but why do that when you can easily dig up budget-friendly wallpaper samples, half rolls and scraps from secondhand shops? Don’t forget to finish the look with a coat of environmentally-friendly varnish.

Don’t Recycle, Reupholster

photo
image: ooh_food

Giving a piece of furniture a decorating overhaul can be as easy as swapping out the fabric. “Reupholstering? Easy?” Depending on the piece of furniture, reupholstering sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. Changing out the fabric on your couch could get tricky, but stools, dining room-style chairs and even some armchairs—no problem.

When you reupholster a furnishing yourself, you get to choose whatever fabric you like—a funky pattern, a creamy linen, hounds tooth, stripes. Get creative! All you need for your reupholstering project is your new (or vintage!) fabric and a staple gun. Simply remove the original fabric, arrange the new fabric in place and staple as you go. You may need a friend to help you hold the fabric in place. You can do it, you eco do-it-yourselfer!

New Hardware

Give an old-fashioned dresser, nightstand or end table a smart new look simply by changing out its hardware. Fresh knobs or pulls can do decorating wonders to an outdated piece—and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a screwdriver. If you really want to go earth-friendly check thrift stores, secondhand shops or Etsy for vintage hardware.

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