So you’re looking around your place and it seems to have developed dark under eye circles, it’s so tired. Or maybe your budget is fasting and you’re saving your calories for essential things only. Maybe you’re thinking of the environment and how our rampant consumerism is destroying the planet. Maybe you just love creative projects and you’re looking for the next one.
There are lots of reasons why you may choose to create a custom furniture piece from secondhand finds instead of buying something shiny and new. Personally, I’ve refurbished for all of these reasons for many years, and I’d like to pass along a bit of inspiration for those you who are low on funds, eco-conscious, creative, or all of the above.
Don’t underestimate the treasures to be found on bulk trash day. While driving through my neighborhood one morning, I found this hideous outdoor table out on the swell waiting for the trash heap.
As you can see, it doesn’t look like much. It was actually a little embarrassing lifting this filthy thing into my car.
But when it comes to refurbishing, you have to dismiss everything that you’ve learned about what has value. Look beyond the dirt and you’ll see a very classic and cool shape with lots of potential.
This table is made of fiberglass which makes it great for outdoors, but I wanted to create a look that could work inside or out. So, I decided to keep the base white and add some color to the top.
A coat of high gloss white spray paint and you can see the difference already. A few months back when I worked on this project, I was going through a phase where a very particular shade of yellow had captured my heart and I used it on everything.
When spray painting, be sure to start spraying just off of the furniture to avoid thick pools of paint at the starting point. And although it takes more time, aim for multiple thin layers of paint instead of trying to finish with one or two coats. This way you’ll avoid streaks, drips, and uneven coverage. Just have something else to do to occupy the time it takes to dry and walk away.
Outside it becomes a cute little table for morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Indoors it becomes a furniture piece that no one else will have. I love having pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. Now let’s just say that this piece was just too ugly to see the light of day. Are there any solutions?
Because I already had a coffee table and just felt like getting my hands on a project, I sold this piece to a woman who loved the color and was actually designing her new apartment around the color yellow. And I can promise you that she got this piece from me for much less than she would have found it in a store.
This next piece I found at a thrift store for $5. It was an awful dingy off-white, beige-ish color, and I honestly wasn’t sure what it had been used for. But I had more yellow paint, so on it went. I liked the potential for practical use and the old-fashioned lattice work on the sides.
There’s no reason why painter’s tape can’t be reused over and over again. So long as it can still adhere, I just peel it off of my projects and wrap it around the roll again.
There’s no shame in doing what’s best for your budget and the environment.
I decided to keep some white on this piece to highlight the details and keep it fresh. I like to think of it as grandma chic. What do you think?
It took a bit more effort to ensure that the white paint wasn’t spraying onto the yellow and vice versa, but I think it was worth the effort. I mainly used a piece of cardboard box to work as a protective shield for the parts that were already painted and dry.
With simple projects that only require paint, you can make them as easy or complex as you’d like. Some other ideas for this piece could be to Modge Podge pretty paper on the shelves, or attach hooks underneath the top shelf to hang wine glasses for a bar cart. You get the idea.
Here’s one more project that only required paint. Please excuse the sucky picture quality.
This mirror and shelf started out a brassy, gaudy gold color. The sort of thing you saw in your immigrant aunt’s house. The same house with the plastic covered furniture. Some of you know what I’m talking about. A fresh coat of paint has given it new life, and a better station in life, right next to my from door.
The lesson: Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to spend a lot of money, or any money, to make your home nicer. Many of you probably already have paint in the house and own stuff that would look a lot more interesting if you just refreshed it. Don’t forget to check out secondhand stores. Look past the griminess of a piece and focus on the lines and design. And the next time that your neighborhood is having bulk trash pickup, hop into your car and have a drive around.
Tip: If you’re too embarrassed to pull up in people’s yards and start loaded their discards, go out the night before pickup when it’s nice and dark. But at the end of the day, don’t let a temporary feeling get in the way of you creating something beautiful for your home. You can do it! Get out there, ladies.
How do you feel about refurbishing old furniture? Have you dabbled? Are you a pro? If not, what’s holding you back?
My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?