“Do It Yourself” or DIY is a trend that is increasingly becoming popular across the world, due to the low cost and higher scope for customization. This trend ranges from small things like greeting cards to larger projects such as DIY Trailer houses. 

The most common representation of DIY tends to happen in furniture upcycling. Due to the increasing price of high-quality furniture and changing styles of interior design, it is easier to resort to DIY to self-style old furniture instead of buying new pieces. 

Here is a list of some projects that can be done to upgrade the furniture.

1. Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint is a matte finish that provides a smooth, durable finish to furniture. It is preferred over regular paint because it does not require any prep before application, other than cleaning, and can easily cover cracks and bumps, a great asset when working with old furniture. 

The paint is also water-based and the excess is therefore easy to clean. Official chalk paint is sold by creator Annie Sloan, but different varieties can be bought elsewhere. This is not to be confused with chalkboard paint, which creates writable surfaces when used. 

The finish can last for a long time, but an additional coat of wax can be applied to seal it for longer. 

A more detailed guide can be found here – https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/home-painting/how-to-paint-furniture-with-chalk-paint/ 

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Before Painting_©www.livelovediy.com
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Chalk Paint_©www.pinterest.com
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After applying Chalk Paint_©www.livelovediy.com

2. Wallpaper

The fun part of DIY is the freedom to use any material that fits, so it makes sense that the vast range of wallpapers available is increasingly being repurposed to be used as a finish for old furniture. 

Leftover pieces are perfect for the smaller areas of cabinets and tabletops to be covered, and have the added advantage of producing new, interesting surfaces that can easily be changed as per the color palette of the room. 

The wallpaper can easily be cut to the required dimensions and glued to the selected surface. 

Find out more here – https://quadrostyle.com/blogs/home/everything-you-need-to-know-about-wallpapering-furniture

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Before Wallpapering_©www.thehomesihavemade.com
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Wallpaper is added to Individual Parts_©www.thehomesihavemade.com
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After Wallpapering_©©www.thehomesihavemade.com

3. Decoupage

Decoupage is the quintessential DIY method, so of course, it extends to sprucing up old furniture. Decoupage is the process of cutting and gluing pieces of material, generally differently patterned paper but occasionally fabric, gold leaf, etc., to create a collage effect. This process takes longer than wallpapering, but allows for a great deal of customization and produces a more unique look to the room. 

The paper or other materials are cut to the required shapes and then carefully glued onto the selected area. The varnish is carefully applied between layers. The varnish is then sanded at the end to ensure an even surface. 

More details can be found here – https://www.wikihow.com/Decoupage-a-Table

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Decoupage produces a smooth cohesive finish_©www.trendcrafts.com
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Decoupaged table_©www.hgtv.com
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Decoupaged chair_©www.allroundhobby.blogspot.com

4. Distressing

Occasionally the aesthetic of a space requires a more ‘antique’ look that still looks pleasing to the eye. The idea of distressing therefore gained prominence, where the visual imperfections on old furniture can be better controlled. 

The original paint is first partially removed, and then materials like wax or petroleum jelly are used to create imperfections in the new paint coat being applied. Wood is the best material for this method, though other materials can also be distressed in different ways. 

The main point of concern is to ensure that the distressing looks authentic, without going too far. 

A more detailed process can be seen here – https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/how-to-distress-furniture 

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The Distressed Cabinet_©©www.abbottsathome.com
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Distressing the cabinet with sandpaper and petroleum jelly_©©www.abbottsathome.com
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A4103- 20 DIY Projects to upgrade your old furniture-Distressing

5. Edge Banding

Edges are an often-neglected part of furniture upgrading, but often simply cleaning up the edge can have a major impact on old furniture. Edge banding refers to thin strips of plywood or PVC that can be glued along the sides of the furniture to protect the edges. 

Since the edges are often the first evidence of wear and tear, replacing the edge banding with new strips is often highly effective in creating a simple but clean upgrade. 

Furthermore, though edge banding is usually selected to match the color of the furniture, selecting a different color can help accentuate the furniture. 

A guide for replacing edge banding can be found here- https://salvagedinspirations.com/applying-edge-banding-to-furniture/

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Adding edge banding_©©www.woodshopdiaries.com
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After edge banding has been added_©©www.woodshopdiaries.com
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Adding edge banding of a different colour_©©www.homelane.com

6. Slipcovers

Slipcovers are loose protective covers that can be easily put on and taken off furniture. They can be used for most types of seating and are popular due to the ease of cleaning and storage. 

Slipcovers can help transform a piece of old furniture into a more modern interior feature. The fabric is measured and stitched together to fit specific furniture pieces, though looser slipcovers can also be created, based on preference. 

An example for an ottoman can be found here – https://heytherehome.com/diy-slip-cover-ottoman/

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Chair slipcover_©©www.slipcovermaker.com
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Ottoman slipcover_©©www.bebraveandbloom.com
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Ruffled slipcovers can be made_©©www.farmhouseonboone.com,jpg

7. Adding Molding or Trims

Crown moldings on wardrobes and bookcases often help frame the space and add an air of sophistication to the room. They also help to make the shelves seem more built into the room. 

Adding trims to lower cabinets or beds also have the same effect, giving old furniture a more classical look that adds a more timeless aura to the room. This method of upgrading does require a certain degree of expertise in cutting the material in the required shapes, but the result is worth it. 

The detailed method can be seen here – https://www.truevalue.com/diy-projects/post/home-decor/crafts/update-bookcase-with-crown-moldings

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Cabinets before adding moulding_©©www.centsiblechateau.com
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Cabinets after adding moulding_©©www.centsiblechateau.com
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Adding trim to cabinet doors_©©www.prettyhandygirl.com

8. Ikea Hacks

IKEA is a popular brand for DIY furniture, so it makes sense that it has spawned a large number of hacks and ideas to use the inexpensive furniture available in the most effective way for interior design. 

From mixing and matching different products, to adding new finishes, to adding doors, IKEA allows a great deal of customization that lends itself to creating the ideal furniture piece to match the aesthetic of the room.

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Simple furniture lends itself to customization_©www.ikeahackers.com
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Mixing and matching different shelves_©www.idealhome.co.uk
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Adding doors to bookshelves_©www.flikr.com

9. Mirrors

Mirrors are often used to make rooms feel bigger and brighter, as do most reflective surfaces. They also add a sense of sophistication and elegance. Mirrors and reflective surfaces are increasingly being used to enhance old furniture in DIY projects, either as an unbroken surface, such as tabletops or as a mosaic of pieces to add a sense of texture. 

All that is required is a clean piece of furniture, some mirror pieces, and glue. Reflective paint can also produce similar effects. 

An example can be found here – http://www.lindsayannbakes.com/2018/12/video-diy-mirrored-nightstands-hack.html 

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Before Adding Mirrors_©www.lindsayannbakes.com
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Coating with Metallic Paint_©www.lindsayannbakes.com
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Gluing Mirrors_©www.lindsayannbakes.com
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After Painting and Adding Mirrors_©www.lindsayannbakes.com

10. Refinishing

Refinishing is the most effective method of upgrading old furniture, and also one of the more time-consuming. Refinishing requires a thorough removal of the old finish, a subsequent sanding of the surface, and finally application of the new finish after sealing the surface from moisture. 

This method is usually preferred for wood and produces a rich, vibrant effect that highlights the natural beauty of the material. 

The detailed method is available here – https://www.homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-refinish-furniture/9ba683603be9fa5395fab90140efad1a

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The original cabinet_©www.merrypad.com
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The original finish is removed_©www.merrypad.com
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The refinished cabinet_©www.merrypad.com
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Mythili Nair
Author

Mythili Nair is an aspiring architect and lifelong student. She loves to discover the various ways architecture impacts culture, society and experiences, and firmly believes in sustainability and inclusivity.

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