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How to give your furniture a facelift

Selena Dehne is a marketing and public relations manager for JIST Publishing, freelance writer and life-long Hoosier. She covers home, entertaining, and holiday topics for SheKnows.com and FabulousLiving.com. Selena has also published do...

Tips for furniture transformations

Buying new furniture can certainly be exciting, but so can transforming the look of pieces you’ve had for years, acquired from loved ones or stumbled across at yard sales and flea markets. In fact, it can be particularly gratifying to create a one-of-a-kind piece — especially when the makeover costs very little and continuously earns “oohs” and “ahhs” from guests visiting your home.

Handpainted dresser

Here are some simple, budget-friendly ways to give old furniture a fresh new look.

1Paint it

According to Gail Green of Gail Green Interiors in New York, the most obvious facelift you can give a piece of furniture is to paint it. "I said 'paint' as opposed to 'repaint' because the item doesn't necessarily need to have been a painted surface before. That is, one can paint metal, Formica, wood -- almost anything," she explains.

Dawn Mohrmann, owner of Hydrangea Home, says neutral shades -- white, cream and gray -- are most common for furniture makeovers. "They are easily coordinated with other pieces in the room," she notes.

Keep this in mind, but don't rule out bright, bold colors just yet. Mohrmann also says that a chest of drawers in a bright color, such as red, yellow or blue can make a great artistic statement. "Choosing the paint color for the piece will really depend on the rest of the room. If there is already a lot of color and pattern in the space, then neutral would be the way to go," she explains.

2Change the hardware

Sometimes a subtle change or two can make a vast difference in the overall look of the piece of furniture you're trying to transform. That's why changing the hardware is an easy, inexpensive way to get the results you want. According to Mohrmann, "If the hardware on the piece is in good condition and you like the lines, just spray-paint them. Oil-rubbed bronze is a great look on a distressed piece. Glass knobs add a little 'chic' to your furniture. You may choose to purchase new hardware, which can be found at your local hardware store. A store like Anthropologie is a favorite of mine for unique hardware to really give your furniture a 'new' look."

3Embellish it with fabric or wallpaper

Looking for a clever, colorful way to jazz up a boring bookshelf, cabinets or drawers? Then you'll love Mohrmann's next suggestion. She says, "Wallpaper in a floral or graphic pattern looks beautiful on the back of a bookshelf or on the front of cabinet doors or drawers. If your room is calling for a little pattern or color, this is a great way to go. Just a little paper and some decoupage glue can really transform your piece."

4Add a slipcover

If you can't bear to part with a beloved sofa or chair, consider putting a slipcover on it. According to Steve Guilmet, a representative from the slipcover business Stretch & Cover, "There are many benefits to having a new slipcover for old or used furniture. The first is giving your furniture a new and crisp look with your color scheme in mind. Slipcovers rehab your old furniture, hiding stains and small holes. They are washable and you do not have to give up that 'broken in' and comfy sofa, love seat, lounge or chair. You can keep your own furniture and dress it up in style with easy care and an easy price."

If you're worried the slipcover will look too bland on its own, Guilmet advises you to invest in a few throw pillows to complement the room's accent colors. "Throw blankets to match are another great accent. Both of these accessory ideas are great on the budget and give your room color and eye appeal and let your personality show through," he explains.

5Repurpose it

To breathe new life into a piece of furniture, you may not need to make many changes to it at all. Instead, consider using the piece in a new, creative way. For example, Heather Cote of Stylish Solutions Interior Decorating, says, "Turn a chest of drawers into shelves. Just take out the drawers and use a piece of wood to create a shelf where the drawer used to be. Add some baskets if you still need closed storage. An old dresser can be made into a bathroom vanity with a bit of work: Cut a hole in the top for the sink and make a bit of space inside for your plumbing. A dresser can also become a window seat. Remove the legs and cover with it with a cushion."

For further inspiration, check out the Better After blog. There you'll find a wealth of before-and-after transformations, which include everything from tables and chairs to dressers and desks.

DIYHome how-to

How to paint furniture

Handpainted furniture can add personality and style to any room in your home. Whether you want to buy painted furniture or learn how to paint furniture, these tips will help.

More guidance on furniture

Fun and funky furniture finds
How to repaint furniture
Shopping for furniture: Price vs. quality

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