Design & DIY

5 tips to give old furniture a fresh look

Okay, let’s face it. The furniture we put in our cottages is usually a mish-mash of 70’s hand-me-downs, banged up antiques and old pieces we no longer wanted around the house. This can leave your space looking more than a little drab and sad. In order to get your cottage furniture out of its dreary time warp, here are some creative ideas to turn boring furnishing into beautiful conversation pieces.

Add a pop of colour

A coat of paint can do wonders for any old piece, but don’t be afraid to use multiple colours. For kitchen chairs, try painting each one a different colour. For a shelving unit with glass doors, try a light shade on the outside and a bright shade on the inside. It’ll add just a hint of colour that really makes the piece stand out. Adding floral or nautical themed stencils can also increase the country feel while distressing techniques can add a rustic antique effect that makes the piece truly unique.

Wallpaper can be your friend

While the days of wallpapering an entire room may be long gone, adding small accents to your furniture can be the perfect way to introduce some fun patterns and colours to your room. Adding wallpaper to table tops, inside bookshelves or the exterior of drawers is an easy way to make over the piece. For something a little more out of the box, try using old maps instead of wallpaper. It’s a cheap way to add a whimsical and worldly feel.

Add embellishments

If bright colours aren’t your thing, a simple way to add some flair is by adding some artistic details to your pieces. Change up the hardware on drawers, add antlers to a light fixture or use mason jars around your light bulbs. Get crafty and use your imagination—a small change can do wonders! 

Repurpose the old

Don’t throw away that old and broken furniture. With a little creativity and elbow grease, you can easily transform the piece and give it a second life. Old doors can be painted and used as headboards or tabletops (doorknobs and all). Another option is to attach the door to the wall and add shelves—it becomes a unique shelving unit that really adds texture to an otherwise boring wall. Scratched and stained tables can be turned into ottomans by cutting down the legs and covering the top with foam and a beautiful fabric while removing dressers drawers creates cool bookshelves. You can also take the warped mirror out of an armoire and replace it with a chalkboard panel. This is a fun detail that allows you to leave favourite quotes and short messages that really add a personal touch to the space.

Reupholster and refinish

If your furnishings need a little TLC, recovering chairs or adding slip covers to couches can really change the feel of a room. Neglected wood furniture can be brought back to life with some sanding and a new stain or varnish. The sky’s the limit for your DIY projects!

In each episode of Weekend Reno, now on Cottage Life, the Channel, designer Michelle Mawby has one weekend to turn a tired cottage space into a refreshed haven. She and her team send the owners packing while they pull out all the stops to overhaul the space. The owners return as the transformation is revealed—a space the owners can truly enjoy during their cottage stays.

Learn more: Weekend Reno