Before-and-After Furniture Makeovers

traditional yellow upholstered chair with white desk
Thrift stores and garage sales are ripe with budget-friendly finds, but often what you score secondhand needs a little TLC. Take a look at how we transformed common thrift store finds into wow-worthy furnishings.

Before: Fussy Desk

Too many ornate and fussy details makes this French-style desk a candidate for a modern makeover.

After: Modern Face

Bright orange paint minimizes intricate details and brings this desk into modern fashion while silver details add sparkle.

Before: Stuck in a Timewarp

With an interesting shape, but unfortunate upholstery, this wing chair was a diamond-in-the-rough, waiting to be rescued.

After: Fresh and Modern

Fresh white paint enhanced the cane panels and the chair's wood frame. Gray-and-white ikat fabric replaced gold velour. When picking fabric for an upholstery project, pay attention to scale. Because this chair is tall, it easily handles a larger scale print. 

Yes, you can actually paint upholstered furniture and give a tired piece a brand new look. Learn how, plus what type of paint to use, and the secrets to success.

Upholstery Makeover with Paint

Refresh a dated upholstered chair with paint. Don't believe you can do it? Watch and see how a special kind of paint gets the job done.

Before: Nondescript Dresser

With a great modern shape, the dull finish on this dresser was dragging it down.

After: Personality-Packed

To begin, remove drawers; then prime and paint dresser casing glossy white. Remove hardware, sand original finish off drawer fronts, then apply desired stain. (We used four coats of Minwax Dark Walnut.) For the herringbone detail, align middle drawers face up on work surface and secure herringbone stencil with painter's tape. Use a 4-inch roller to apply paint, blotting excess on a paper towel before lightly rolling over the stencil. Repeat until desired saturation is reached. Remove stencil and let dry. 

Project by: Carrie Waller, Dream Green DIY

Convert an entertainment armoire into a kitchen storage for cooking and baking.

Baking Cabinet

See how to transform a basic cabinet into a fun baking station and storage unit for your kitchen.

Before: Dingy Chair

A gorgeous silhouette was just begging to be rescued from icky upholstery and a boring brown finish.

After: Bright Perch

A graphic black-and-white chevron fabric on the cushion put a playful twist on the chair's classic frame, while lipstick-red paint on the frame emphasizes the chair's shapely curves and pretty details.

Before: Six-Sided Sadness

Lurking in basements everywhere, these wood hexagon side tables were a staple of 70s decor, but are now relegated to dusty corners and thrift store selling floors. Are they beyond redemption? Hardly. Click to the next slide to see why.

After: Thoroughly Modern Pouf

A fresh coat of paint and a fun upholstered topper are the secrets to this piece's revival. First, sand, clean, and prime the table. Then, cut 1/2-inch-thick plywood to measure 1/2 inch smaller on all sides than the tabletop. Next, cut four layers of batting to match plywood top. Cut a fifth layer of batting and one of fabric, both 3 inches wider on all sides than the plywood. Stack four batting layers on the fifth; center plywood on top. Pull batting around the plywood; staple on back. Repeat with fabric layer. Place cushion on table; screw through underside of table to attach pouf. As an added bonus, give the tired hardware a fresh outlook with glossy paint.

Want to update a piece of furniture, but don't want to overhaul the entire thing? Try this simple approach with paint.

Easy Nightstand Makeover

A furniture makeover doesn't need to be a complete overhaul. See how simple and easy can have a major impact.

Before: Easily Overlooked

The beautiful traditional lines of this buffet were overshadowed by a blah finish, and the ornate hardware made it look fussy, not classic.

After: Showstopper

Take painted furniture a step further with all-over, eye-catching color as well as painted details. Prep the piece by sanding, cleaning, and priming. Coat the dresser with enamel semigloss paint. (We used Valspar’s Enchanted Forest.) For the freehand outline, use a small paintbrush dipped in white enamel semigloss paint or try a white paint marker. A steady hand is a must, or you can follow a straightedge or apply painter’s tape. Choose decorative areas to outline to show off the dresser's curves. We replaced the intricate hardware with sleek metal pulls and knobs for an extra dose of customization.

Painting furniture gives an old piece a new look. Here's how to paint furniture and get great results.

Paint Furniture Like a Pro

If you're ready to paint a piece of furniture, don't do it without watching this video. Our step-by-step tricks show you how to paint furniture correctly. 

Before: So-So Chair

Boring brown upholstery wasn't doing this chair's beautiful carved frame and great shape any favors.

After: Double Dose of Style

Not one, but two fabrics, refreshed the set of dining room chairs, as did a fresh coat of white paint. Using a durable vinyl or leather on the fronts ensures longevity and easy clean-up, while placing a less durable, but fun, fabric on the back adds something a little unexpected. 

Reupholstering a chair can be a bit of a challenge, but these tips and tricks will show you how to successfully reupholster a piece of furniture.

Ready to Reupholster?

Watch this first. These secrets to success will help you navigate your project.

Before: Tired Dresser

If a dresser like this is too traditional or stuffy for you, wait until you see what a little color can do.

After: Vibrant Hues

Citrus hues give this highboy a color-block update. Select one semigloss paint color for each drawer and a darker shade of one of those colors for the casing. The thrift store piece was missing knobs, so we added white porcelain ones after giving them a custom upgrade using Sharpie markers. Before installing the knobs, we made the freehand flower design permanent by baking the knobs in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Before: Entertainment Center

With the advent of flat-screen TVs and digital streaming, the need for bulky TVs and stacks of tapes and DVDs has also gone by the wayside, leaving imposing entertainment centers collecting dust. But with plenty of built-in storage, these gems can find a new purpose elsewhere.

After: Entryway Organizer

Equip an entertainment center for entryway organization. Remove doors to create open shelves. If the backing is beat up and flimsy, replace it with a new board. Paint the unit (use a bright color for the interior for extra style points). Hang a 1x4 inside and attach coat hooks to it. Add a boot tray to catch dirt. Equip shelves with baskets for storing seasonal items such as scarves, flip-flops, and sports gear. Mark them with tags. Transform a side wall into a message center with dry-erase paint. Hang a wall pocket file for important papers and attach a key rack.

Before: Plain-Jane Armoire

A roomy armoire is ripe with storage potential, but a few custom additions and tweaks can turn it into something even better.

After: Smart Serving Station

Cutting the doors in half and moving hinges made room for a beverage bar with storage cabinets underneath. Crown molding on top and scrolled molding on the bottom add a touch of class. The new cool blue color is calm and relaxing. A divided shelf added to the open top provides bonus storage for dishes, glasses, and books. X shelves in the lower cabinet are perfect for bottles and rolled linens.

Before: Shapely, Yet Drab

If dark and heavy finishes aren't your style, but you love the shape of a piece, a coat of paint and easy embellishments will make it sing your tune.

After: Bright and Fun

White paint gave this coffee table its fresh face and simple decoupage elevates it to one-of-a-kind status. To get the look, fit sheets of scrapbook paper (we used a lace motif) to the tabletop, cutting as needed. Remove the paper and number the backs to remember the positioning. Working in small sections, apply decoupage medium to the tabletop. Adhere one sheet of paper. Apply decoupage medium on top and repeat with the rest of the paper. After the paper is adhered, apply two coats of decoupage medium, letting dry between coats.

Before: Boring and Basic

Cracked, cheap upholstery was bringing down the fabulous clean lines of this chair.

After: Triple Play

New paint and fresh upholstery are standard furniture makeover plays, but an additional slipcover hits a home run.

Before: Tired Design

You loved that iron headboard at the time, but is it ready for an update? Rather than starting from scratch, cover it up with an upholstered cover.

After: Refreshed and Invigorated

An upholstered plywood board softens the look of this old iron headboard. What's the project's secret to success? Steel straps, used for supporting conduit and pipe, a common hardware store supply.

Before: All Worn Out

Don't overlook ragged furniture at thrift stores. Many forlorn pieces are just gems, waiting to be rediscovered. Take this tired French armchair, for example.

After: Fresh and Fun

New paint and an upholstery job transformed this chair from blah to beautiful, and strategic trims hide the striped fabric's raw edges. After painting the chair, staple an oval of fabric to the chairback and trim excess fabric. Hot-glue flat braided trim around the fabric oval to hide the staples. Cover the seat with the same fabric, and hot-glue the braided trim around it. Finish with by-the-yard nailhead trim from a fabrics store; it is easier to work with than decorative nails and ensures perfect spacing.

Before: Dismal Dining

Dining room chairs abound at thrift stores and many come with a nifty little secret: The seats can be removed for easy re-covering.

After: Delightful Dining

Yellow paint and fabric brighten this thrifted find. What's our seat covering? A pillow cover! Choose a sturdy-fabric pillow cover slightly larger than the seat. (Ours is a 22-inch cotton twill square.) Remove the seat and wrap the pillow cover around the seat and staple it underneath. Reattach the seat to the chair.

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