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Redesigning Old Furniture: 4 Steps for Any Project

Redesigning Old Furniture Graphic

Have you always wanted to redesign an old piece of furniture? Do you feel like you are finally ready to tackle the project but don't know where to start? Choosing a type of paint, finish, and even colors can be daunting. Every piece will be different and require different steps, but it's much easier to start with the perfect plan.

Step 1: Identify Your Style

What do you like? Seems like a simple question, but honestly it's not an easy answer most of the time. I have learned that not only does your style/taste change and evolve over time, but it's something that could take a while to identify.

When I first married my honey our style was what I call Motley Crue. Between his love for dark, oversized couches and electronics, and my love for a little bit of everything, combined with the enviable hand-me-down furniture, we found ourselves:

  1. Not truly knowing what our style was, and

  2. Not knowing how to pick the best of both, and join them together to come up with something we both lived and were proud to show off.

Here's a list of general decor/design styles. Of course there are so many the list could go on and on but these are some of the top trends:

  • Traditional - Classic styling incorporates elements from a variety of centuries. Mostly formal but with a comfortable feel.

Example of Traditional Style

  • Coastal - Just what is sounds like; "beach inspired" and known by it's use of soft aquatic colors and jute. Also referred to as Nautical or Cottage.

Example of Coastal Style

  • Farmhouse - A modern approach to a country style, rooted in French Provence. Known for its use of whites and neutrals, shiplap, raw woods, and exposed beams, this style is so popular for a casual look and easy in mixing with other styles such as modern, industrial, bohemian, Scandinavian.

Example of Farmhouse Style

  • French Country - European elegance meets rustic country and old-world character to achieve the graceful and inviting style of country French decorating.

Example of French Country Style

  • Mid-Century Modern - Specific to the mid-20th century, this style is simple clean and sophisticated. It's known by its refined lines and minimalist design.

Example of Mid Century Modern Style

  • Industrial - A reflection of the turn of the century industrial era this style is known for its use of metal (steel and iron), natural distressed woods, and exposed brick.

Example of Industrial Style

  • Bohemian - Rich in color, patterns, and textures and know for it's Moroccan, Southwest, and tribal influence.

Example of Bohemian Style

  • Modern - The new contemporary. Know by its minimal sleek design using a mix of polished metals and stone and known for clean lines.

Example of Modern Style

Step 2: Find Examples of Furniture You Love

Look for pieces and rooms that fit your style. Of course it will be much easier if you know how to classify your style (above). They don’t have to be make-over examples, but should be examples of how you would love this piece to look after you are finished redesigning it.

Where to look:

And here is a great tip: most of your favorite store website will also have their catalog available online so you don’t have to worry if your husband “moved” yours to the recycle bin…maybe that’s just a struggle in my house! Lol.

Pinterest is probably the best way to collect all your idea in one place. You can easily create boards and pin ideas to the appropriate board. It will help you weed through ideas, narrow your true "likes," and see the project in the "big picture." I also personally love to make collages with Layout from Instagram by Instagram, Inc.

Note the Details you love:

  • Colors

  • Finishes

  • Hardware

  • Etc.

Now you know your style and what you want your vintage piece to look like so the hard part it behind us.

Step 3: Consider Your Space

Your new piece will soon be integrated into your home. There are some things you will want to think about before making a final design decision.

  • Does the room match your style, or is this piece the first step in a whole-room makeover? If the room doesn't match the style, and you're not ready to redo the entire space, reevaluate the style of your makeover. Maybe look for inspiration with an eclectic style to start transitioning your "old" style to your new vision.

  • Is your piece the correct size for the space?

  • Does this piece function for the intended use? Will it need to be modified? i.e a dresser being used for a media console will likely need to be modified

  • What colors are already in the room? Does your new vision work with the current color palette or will you need to modify your design?

  • What is your design goal? Are you adding drama to a plain space? A dark jewel tone piece could be the perfect addition. Or are you wanting to create a light airy space? A light neutral design would be a good fit in this case.

Step 4: Get to Work on Your Furniture Redesign!

It’s time to get started! Every kind of furniture has different needs and every finish will have a different process (more on this in a future post!) but there’s lots of good info out there in the meantime.

Start broad (i.e. What type of paint should I use latex, chalk, clay, acrylic, milk) and then get more specific (i.e. which brand is the best choice for my project).

  • Watch YouTube videos - It's good to make sure you’re up for the task before you start. Once you’ve chosen your products I suggest checking out that specific brands website. There are lots of brands that provide wonderful tutorials on how they suggest their products be used. And it's important to follow their specific instructions.

  • Gather your tools - Make sure you have everything before you start. Try to make a list of all the things you will need before hand; there is nothing like being midstream in a project and realizing you need to make a Home Depot run because you forgot something.

Here's a mock list for a simple paint project with no staining:

Be patient and flexible - especially if it’s your first time! Remember this is an art. It will take time to learn and become comfortable.

For this reason I always suggest starting with a small pre project like a shelf, stool, even a small chair to get the hang of what you will be doing before tackling your piece of furniture.

You Actually Can Redesign Your Own Furniture!

Redesigning a vintage piece of furniture can be a fun, affordable way to lift a room and freshen your space. Identify your style so you can find the right inspiration, and make sure you consider how the new look will fit in your space. Now your first step will be to login or sign up for a Pinterest account. Pinterest is as popular as it is for a reason: Start a new board for your new project and start collecting ideas!


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