4 Tips for Rejuvenating Old Furniture

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Sure, that old wooden rocking chair might be covered in nicks and scratches and the butcher-block kitchen table is dotted with a rainbow’s worth of paint splashes, but that’s no reason to kick them to the curb.

Bruce Johnson, professional refinisher for more than 40 years who has penned several books and many articles on the topic, says that people too often give up on good, if old, pieces of furniture.

“Antique dealers make a good living by hitting yard sales to find perfectly good pieces of furniture that people have gotten rid of for no good reason,” Johnson says.

Instead, roll up your sleeves and try these three tips to gives your older furniture a new lease on life.

  • Be creative with paint: Painting an entire chair or table can be hard, messy work. But Robin Beam, director of education with national retailer AC Moore Arts & Crafts, says that those who are creative can use touches of paint to spruce up their faded furniture. She suggests using a paint pen and doilies to dot rocking chairs, tables and chests with eye-catching designs.
  • Add zing with decoupage: Beam also recommends decoupage, the art of decorating items by gluing colored paper, photos or scrapbook pages on them, This technique adds visual interest to an otherwise boring piece of furniture. Decoupage works especially well with wooden children’s furniture, she says. All you need is the decorative paper and a decoupage glue and sealer such as Mod Podge.
  • Highlight the flaws: Don’t view those nicks and scratches as flaws; they provide character and a sense of history. Johnson suggests applying wood sheen and stain (some products combine these in one tube) to add color to the nicks and scratches in wooden furniture, giving it an attractive antique look.
  • Keep it simple: Johnson says that the first rule of rejuvenating old furniture is, “Do no harm.” So, if possible. avoid stripping old furniture or antiques with harsh chemicals, which can seriously damage these pieces. Instead, Johnson recommends simply cleaning old furniture with a commercial wood cleaner.

Tags: furniture, refurnish, repurpose DIY, budget