Instead of shopping the same furniture stores and outlets that all your neighbors use, why not try something a little different? By choosing vintage furniture pieces and giving them a face lift, you’ll not only be able to showcase your DIY skills and creative sense of style, but you’ll also likely have some unique furniture that was also made far better than most modern day furniture.
Start by scouring yard sales, thrift stores, consignment stores, and craigslist ads. You’ll be surprised at how often some fantastic furniture is donated or even thrown away, simply because it has a few scratches or an outdated finish. A little paint can bring out all the magnificent lines of those vintage treasures.
Look for furniture that is well-built, sturdy, and doesn’t have water damage. A little water spotting or slightly damaged veneer is okay, but a dining room table that survived a flood and has had the veneer top ripple and separate is probably going to be more work than it’s worth.
Look for a piece that has some ornate scroll work, turned legs, or other feature that you can highlight with paint or stain. You don’t necessarily need multiple matching pieces if you’re looking for two nightstands or a set of dining chairs. As long as the pieces don’t have clashing styles, you can unify them with your paint scheme.
Once you get your piece home, wash or wipe it down well, inside and out. Let it dry completely before you begin your work. When it’s dry, sand the finish lightly to give the paint something to adhere to. If there are deep scratches or damaged veneer, you can fill that in with wood filler, then let it dry and sand it smooth.
Use a good primer if you’ll be painting, especially if there are any dark marks or stains on the furniture that you want to cover up. Kilz is a good brand. If you’re not going to use paint, you can get right on with the staining. A really nice combination may be a wood stain for a table top, while painting the rest of the table. One example is a deep walnut stain for the table top with a gorgeous aqua paint for the body and legs of the table.
When your primer is dry, apply your paint, making sure not to miss any nooks or crannies. Think carefully before you paint the sides of drawers. It can cause sticking. If you do, be sure to let it dry as well as fully cure before re-inserting the drawers. Most people skip painting the insides of the cabinets, but painting the cabinet interior could make the interior cleaner looking, and make it brighter and easier to find items inside it.
When the paint is dry, you may want to lightly sand it, wipe it down, and go for another layer. Or you may want to try another layer in a different color, if you plan to use faux distressing techniques. To distress your furniture, you can lightly sand any raised scroll work or add small dents or scratches to impart an aged look.
If you want something that appears to be a modern reproduction, then leave the paint as it is and enjoy the decor style twist that your unique furniture provides.