Upcycle your old living room furniture

Decorative table

Sometimes, all it takes to make old furniture like new again is a little elbow grease, some creativity and a little help from garage and estate sales.

Breath new life into old tables

Instead of tossing that old coffee table or end table, upcycle it with a coat of paint and some created, found or purchased art.

Step 1: Prep the base

Sand down the table in preparation for painting. Always go with the grain and never use power tools on wood. You'll have to use two or three grades of sandpaper, each finer than the first. Start with grade 3/0 as a general rule (go straight to 4/0 for softer woods like pine or poplar). Work up the grades, using 4/0, then 5/0, then 6/0.

paint canStep 2: Stain or paint

Now you're ready to restain or paint your table. If you're painting, consider using a coat or two of primer before the paint goes on. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying another.

Learn to stain hardwood floors >>

Step 3: Give it some flair

Measure the top of your table carefully and order glass or plexiglass to cover the top. This will cost somewhere around $100 (for real glass), depending on the size of your tabletop. Don't forget to ask for or purchase clear rubber dots for the corners of the table. They'll keep the glass from sliding and protect the painted wood from the glass.

You'll also want to pick up some decorative artwork. You can find prints and photos at garage or estate sales, make prints from quality pictures on the internet (make sure you use good-quality paper!) or create your own unique art.

Learn more about thrift-store decorating >>

Close-up table

Go with a theme. If you're repurposing an old living room coffee table for use in your hubby's new man-cave, for example, look for photos, prints or other flat items themed with his favorite team's logo and colors. We've gone with a vintage advertising theme here.

Place the artwork on the table until it looks the way you want it to. You can go with an abstract (thrown about) pattern or keep it neat and orderly with a grid. Move the photos and prints around until they're exactly the way you want them.

Now it's time to top it with glass (don't forget those rubber dots!). If you're careful, there's no need to permanently affix your prints to the table. That way, you can rearrange them or change the theme of the table as desired. With the help of a friend if necessary, carefully and slowly place the glass over the tabletop so there's no overhang an any one side. If you mess up, don't slide the glass, as this will move your prints. Pick it straight up, adjust and try again.

Watch: How to decorate with recycled items

Learn how to reuse items when decorating. This can be both green and budget friendly. On SheKnows.com How To, we learn the art of using off-the-wall items for giving your space that extra pop.

More upcycled decorating ideas

How to make a lightbulb vase
Upcycling meets crafting: Pinterest edition
DIY Mason jar soap dispenser


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Comments on "Upcycle your old living room furniture"

Tina September 30, 2012 | 7:37 PM

Sometimes recycling or finding a way to spice up a used piece of furniture is totally the way to go. I had been wanting a new couch FOREVER, to say the least. Finally, knowing that we're on a budget, I decided to steam clean all the cushions (makes a HUGE difference) and get some cute, decorative pillows for it. Now, I LOVE the couch! And saved a fortune!

Jessica September 30, 2012 | 3:25 PM

Love this! I'm a huge fan of recycling my old furniture and making it into something new. I've painted dressers, stained nightstands, and refinished bookshelves. There's no point in purchasing something new if you can re-do your old stuff for a fraction of the cost. Thanks!

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