Updating Furniture

Instead of buying a new piece of furniture, consider giving your current furniture a facelift.

Slipcovers, pillow covers, decorative pillows, blankets artistically draped, paint, new hardware, new accents, all these things can be used to give a new life to pieces you already own.

Here are some examples of a quick color change. My couch’s pillows I covered with various pillow cases I ordered from Etsy. Two of these have pocket type closures and one has a zipper closure. Two of the choices were customizable. This is also an example of covering the couch: we used a king sheet since I couldn’t find a slipcover that would fit the frame. It didn’t look that amazing, but it did serve its purpose.

This is an example of a quick and easy fix for flat cushions. As you can see, the dogs squashed the back pillows of the couch into fairly flat and deformed shapes. I ordered some fill replacement from Amazon and made them look as good as new. The bottom of the pillows just zip open and I was able to move and mold the fill to fill the space. This is certified memory foam, but if you don’t want to use any kind of foam (typically a plastic), you could try scrap fabric, cotton fill, old pillows or clothes, anything you think may hold the shape you like. I refilled the back pillows eight years after purchasing the couch, and two years later they still look just as good as the day they were refilled.

Here is an example of a china cabinet from one of my best friends, photos courtesy of Nancy Cotton Wendt. She changed the paint color and the hardware. There is wood putty and such that you can purchase (or see if a neighbor has some you can use) that can fill in the holes from the original hardware. You can sand the putty down flat, prime, and paint. Don’t forget that free low VOC paint, the City’s ReBlend, is available in three colors at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center. Other paint may be available in the little store they have on site, but that’s first come first serve and you never know what colors or paint types may be available.

Also check your neighborhood boards and social media, a lot of times people only need a bit of paint for a small project and are happy to pass the rest along. I changed the metal color of a bankers lamp [similar to the one pictured above left (photo courtesy of Barb Pfaff Calhoun)] from gold to silver (pictured above right) and a neighbor was happy to take the rest of the silver can for improving their dumbbell set. We had a red door phase a few years ago in the neighborhood and several neighbors were able to paint doors and outdoor furniture with one set of paint and primer.

Don’t forget to check with your neighbors and local business for help with repairs or reupholstering. Many people are happy to sew up some projects for you if you ask. Many people have tool guns they’d be happy to lend out. I have an upholstery staple gun that I’ve used to recover a footstool and fix cording around furniture and benches. I know people who have strong sewing machines for dense fabrics like medicine balls, wool and denim. My mom has a fabric gun that installs snaps on things and you can pick different snap sizes. You can buy dye and change the color of fabric. I changed my fabric shower curtain from white to green and went through several phases of shades of green since I had dye left over.

Don’t forget to check out furniture consignment stores too. The furniture is in really great condition or they’ll help you sell your furniture. There’s lots of styles and pieces to choose from and you can try them out in the store.

What upcycle or revitilize projects have you done to give furniture a second (or more) life?