Drab to Fab: 10 Fantastic Furniture Makeovers

Whether they involve repainting, resizing, or retrofitting, furniture makeovers are very popular in the DIY world. While original finishes and old-world style certainly have merit, there's a special thrill in giving new life and purpose to tired, old pieces. Design bloggers and style seekers alike, especially those who are thrift minded, waste conscious, and project oriented, know this excitement well. They gather supplies, identify key materials, and work doggedly toward the dramatic, much-anticipated reveal. These restyling magicians relish each furniture makeover challenge, bringing their ingenuity and hard work to bear as they transform yard sale bargains, flea market finds, and family hand-me-downs into relevant, covetable home furnishings for today.

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  1. Belgian Beauty


    When executed with patience and the right solutions, painting a chair’s upholstery can be as successful as painting its frame. By mixing a textile medium with latex paint and lightly sanding between thoroughly dry coats, Jilly, of the blog Jilly & Mia, created a pair of functional, wipe-down kitchen chairs with a hip, laid-back Belgian vibe.

    Jilly & Mia Blog

  2. PVC Glam


    Epic DIYer Mandi Gubler of Vintage Revivals saw decorative value in a budget-friendly length of PVC pipe, which she proceeded to cut into half-inch slices and used to decorate the drawer fronts of a thrifted dresser. The textured array, fixed with a few hits of glue and dressed in several coats of Krylon Classic White Gloss spray paint, cost little yet made the piece look top dollar.

    Related:  5 Things to Do with... PVC Pipe

    Mandi Gubler/Vintage Revivals

  3. Baby Beauty


    When first-time nesters start planning their charming nurseries, that horsey but functional glider tends to be a major style roadblock. DIY mom Liz Marie, however, took the glider from clunky to funky by painting the frame a sunny yellow and slipcovering the cushions in crisp white cotton. 

    Related:  5 Things to Do with… Baby Cribs

    Liz Marie Blog

  4. Pinwheel Pomp


    In Furniture Makeovers (Chronicle Books, 2013), prolific furniture restyler Barb Blair of Knack Studios gets down to business with 30 before-and-afters that celebrate bold painted stripes and other geometrically inclined designs. Case in point: The pinwheel motif, a classic, energetic pattern executed in two or more colors, infuses an old coffee table with lots of zest.

    Related: 10 Style-Setting Coffee Tables You Can Make Yourself

    j. Aaron Greene for Furniture Makeovers/Chronicle Books

  5. Made in Shade


    A new paint job can take years off an outdated piece. Just witness how Barb Blair used a graduated Creamsicle palette to rejuvenate an old-fashioned, unremarkable chest of drawers. The ombre effect lends itself well to a piece with three or more drawers—the result ends up looking much like a giant paint chip—and requires little paint per drawer. This striking chest made the cover of Furniture Makeovers.

    Related: Dressing Up the Dresser: 11 Clever DIY Transformations

    j. Aaron Greene for Furniture Makeovers/Chronicle Books

  6. Twin Bed Transformation


    Artist Lesli DeVito of My Old Country House scooped up a pair of twin beds for $25 and slated them for her teenage daughter’s bedroom makeover. With a coat of soft gray paint and a vibrant printed fabric, DeVito turned the traditional sleepers from grandma to gorge. The completed room went on to win the Washington Post’s Kid's Room Contest.

    Related: Sweet Dreams: 10 Inventive Beds You Can Make Yourself

    My Old Country House

  7. The Blues


    For ombre enthusiast Meagan Tucker from Estuary Design, this chest of drawers (dubbed Tallulah, meaning “leaping water”) was an experiment in the shaded effect. Rather than run the color vertically as the drawers might dictate, rebel painter Tucker forged her own path across the vintage piece, using random, spiky brushstrokes that call to mind a mod flame-stitch vibe. She then outfitted the piece with bone knobs, which really pop against the blues.

    Related: Believe It or Not: 9 Incredible Faux Finishes You Can Do Yourself

    Megan Tucker from Estuary Designs

  8. Herringbone Hurrah


    Textured by BB guns in the '60s and camouflaged by sponge-painting in the '90s, a family hand-me-down finally earned heirloom status in the able hands of third-generation Beja of Howdy Honey. After stripping the decorative finish, Beja taped off a herringbone pattern and selectively colored in with Annie Sloan chalk paint, creating a design that preserves the spirit of the piece's adventurous past.

    Cara Cooper for Howdy Honey

  9. Size Matters


    Sometimes a furniture makeover is simply a matter of rethinking proportions. For example, when Julie Holloway’s client pined for a unique coffee table, the Milk & Honey Home designer countered with an upsized proposal: repurpose a butcher’s table. This solid wood piece, imbued with nostalgia and a lovely patina, just needed a little taken off of the legs to fit its new spot.

    Related:  11 Ways to Use Salvaged Wood in Your Home

    Jennifer Kesler for Milk & Honey Home

  10. Shelve It


    Julie Ryan envisioned a new life for an old steamer trunk and enlisted her husband to help turn the neglected behemoth into a useful corner bookshelf. Once the outside was cleaned and the inside gutted, they lined it with ticking, fit it with shelves, and screwed on cute little feet—and, in the end, earned bragging rights to an unusual, repurposed DIY creation.

    Related:  5 Things to Do with… Old Barrels

    Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss

  11. Outdoor Oomph


    Taking cues from classic red-and-white patent spectator pumps, designer Cheryl Maeder of Gardenhouse Decor turned a shapeless settee into a chic, tailored perch. The aluminum frame, stripped and sealed, now has an industrial appearance, and the cushions, dressed in a spiffy symphony of outdoor and marine-grade vinyl, are sure to weather years of trends.

    Related:  Outdoor Storage: 10 Smart Solutions for Your Deck, Porch, or Patio

    Cheryl Maeder for Gardenhouse Decor

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