How to Change a Piece of Furniture for Less Than $30

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Look around your place... I'm willing to bet you have at least one piece of furniture you are not truly in love with and would love to replace. Am I wrong? I don't know about you, but new furniture every time I get a whim isn't really in our budget. So, just make due with what you've got.
Perfect example: Remember my art studio/guest room? I have a fabulous space for creating art, but I share it with a queen size Murphy Bed, which was housed in this brown beast of a cabinet. I. hated. it. Take a good look and tell me... isn't it huge? Isn't it very brown?Isn't it boring? Not a very inspiring piece in an art studio, you would agree.
But now, I love it. Just slapped some White semi-gloss, changed the handles, added some framed out cork board and now I've got a much happier space. Total cost: $25


Here's another piece that I changed. My mother-in-law's castoff. Once stained brown with a needlepoint seat - just repainted a gloss white and recovered the seat in a fun geometric. Total cost: $8


Antique Farmer's Cabinet that used to be my nursery changing table? Now painted a vintage yellow with black undertones and added glass hardware. Total cost: $20.

Pottery Barn mirror bought on clearance for $10 due to the hideous color... I primed & painted it and now it looks great in my room. Total cost: $5

The key with changing furniture is this... paint! Don't be scared of it. Just find a color you like and go with it. If it doesn't work, just paint over it! My secret to good paint is to either use leftovers from other projects or buy a "sample size" of Sherwin Williams paint. It will set you back $5 (compared to buying a gallon at $25). 

Before you start to paint, it's a good idea to give a light sanding to remove any flaking paint or remove any sealers. No need for a sander, just a little arm workout. Just sand it for a couple minutes is all your really need. 

Primer is key on any painting project. I prefer to use Kilz2 which I always keep on hand. Just give it a layer of primer - if the original color is dark and you are going light, do 2 coats of primer. A painter gave me the tip that primer is cheaper than paint, so you'd rather do 2 coats of primer than 2 coats of paint. 

Let the primer dry (should dry very quickly). And then slap on your paint. Just don't glop it on... take your time and do it right.


For a piece that you want to retain that vintage feel, mix your primer with a color to create an undercoat. Here I used pink. Then for your top color just use the lightest hand to dry brush the piece (dip the brush in the paint and wipe off most of the paint so your brush is almost dry). The first color will show through and help make the piece look like it's been worn off through time.


The farmer's cabinet has an undercoat of black with the yellow painted on top.

Choose hardware that fits the feel you want for your piece - handles can completely change the look of a piece, but you don't have to spend a lot. Restoration Hardware & Anthropologie have fabulous things, but they tend to be expensive. You can usually find the same hardware at Lowe's or even Target (love those Target knock-offs!). 

Tell me, do you have a piece of furniture you've converted somehow? Or would you be willing to try to change a piece yourself? Let me know! I'd love to hear about your projects!

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