Linda is a seasoned writer and bedroom authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.
Five Ways to Decorate Old Furniture
Have you ever bought hand-me-down furniture pieces because you can’t afford something new? Luckily, you can make them good as new by giving them a makeover with paint! Paint is a great way to extend the life of quality furniture pieces. If the wood is in good shape and the piece is well built and solid, there’s no reason you can’t tap into your inner artist and recycle that old table into something special!
1. Aged Finish
An aged, distressed, or antiqued finish gives the illusion that the furniture is from another era. This weathered technique works with cottage, country, and traditional styles. One way to achieve the look is to use old-fashioned milk paint or chalk paint as a base coat. Finish the piece with a rubbing of dark paste wax to give it that aged appearance. Create areas of wear where it would naturally occur with a quick pass of sandpaper.
2. Freehand Designs
This is a fun option for the artistically (and not so artistically) inclined. Paint an original design on a furniture piece to give any room in your home a custom look. Start with a primer to create your furniture “canvas." Apply your base coat and draw a freehand floral motif, abstract, or landscape on a desk, headboard, or dining table. Use acrylic craft paints to bring the design to life. Don’t forget to protect your masterpiece with a clear sealer. Not a freehand artist? Reproduce your favorite design with tracing paper from the craft store.
3. Crackle Effect
Crackling, alligator finish, or crazed effects resemble old paint that has broken down over time. You’ll need a base coat, crackle medium, and a coordinating or contrasting topcoat. Apply a generous coat of crackle medium over the dried base coat to create large cracks. For fine crazing, apply a light coat of crackle medium. While the crackle medium is still tacky, brush on the topcoat in the same direction. This effect is perfect for a rustic dining room or kitchen.
4. Vintage Chic
White vintage chic furniture adds a comfy, casual feel to a coastal living room or cute cottage bedroom. Prime your wood furniture, then brush or spray on a bright or soft white shade. Rough up the finish with fine-grit sandpaper to give it a weathered look. Add a bit of age by using a wash of light brown glaze—it’s a fabulous way to accentuate intricately carved details. Protect the paint with a coat of clear or lightly tinted finishing wax.
5. Stencil Magic
A coat of paint and decorative stencils let you transform your garage sale find into a whimsical furniture piece everyone will love. Select smaller-scale craft stencils for this project—wall stencils are much too large and can overwhelm furniture. Pick a shape or design of your liking, and pounce the stencil in a shade that complements or contrasts with the base color. Stenciled furniture is a sweet addition to a child’s bedroom or playroom.
10 Tips for Painting Furniture
- Sand and wipe off the dust.
- It's best to sand and paint outside on a nice day or in a room with windows open.
- Use a canvas drop cloth or a plastic sheet so that paint splatters on concrete or floors.
- Take the pieces apart and remove the hardware so that you can paint flat surfaces, cracks, and corners.
- You might want to use a paint primer to create a smooth surface.
- To paint small furniture, purchase small sample cans.
- Use thin layers of paint, so it doesn't drip, and let it dry before adding the next layer.
- Color match the furniture paint at the hardware store paint counter so that you can coordinate your rug, curtains, or wall color.
- Often, you might choose the wrong color. You'll have to start over if you don't like the color tone.
- You can paint old furniture on a budget.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2020 Linda Chechar
Start a Conversation!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on April 11, 2020:
Rebecca, I do like the crackle also. It's so much fun to redo old furniture!
rebeccamealey on April 11, 2020:
These are such cool ideas for redoing furniture! I like the crackle. Boy, do I have lots of furniture that needs these!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 23, 2020:
Eman, glad you liked the painted furniture ideas!
Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on February 23, 2020:
So beautiful ideas for painting furniture. It is also very practical. Thanks, Linda for the tips.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 22, 2020:
Linda Crampton, these are delightful projects. Not everyone is artistic freehand. It's easy to use stencils and can create images with tracing paper. There are other painting techniques to create beautiful and distressed furniture!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 21, 2020:
You've shared some interesting ideas for painting and decorating furniture. I love the thought of using stencils or freehand design. I imagine that these techniques would allow people to be very creative. Decorating furniture sounds like a fun process!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 21, 2020:
Liz, it's a great environmental way to recycle these vintage wood furniture. The items you can to get inexpensive pueces from yard sales and make them quite decorative.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 21, 2020:
Donna, I'm glad you enjoyed the article about crafting painted furniture. The ideas are fun to create home decor. Have a nice Friday!
Lillee Rhose from Sparks, NV on February 21, 2020:
Lots of great ideas here, Linda. After I get moved, I will give some of these a try! Thank you for all the wonderful information!
Have a lovely day,
Liz Westwood from UK on February 21, 2020:
I have seen this done to good effect. It's a technique that fits very much with environmental concerns, as it encourages recycling. I am guessing that there is no substitute for being thorough and careful in the process of refurbishment.