Revive and Repurpose Furniture

An old footboard and headboard were painted and turned into a lovely flower box. (Photo by Ron Sesney)

An old footboard and headboard were painted and turned into a lovely flower box. (Photo by Ron Sesney)

Many of us have ugly, old, or hand-me-down furniture that we’d like to see transformed into something beautiful and useful, maybe even something completely different say, turn a dresser drawer into a pet bed, for instance. It’s easier to do than you might imagine, as these local folks point out.

Restyle

Pam Kessie of Savings Grace Vintage in Fort Wayne says one her favorite, simple repurposing projects is turning a old window into a buffet or gardening station. “The size of the widow allows for creativity with the project. If the glass is intact they can be left in or painted over,” she says. “If the glass is out, boards can be placed behind the grids and painted with chalkboard paint. Hooks and ornate trim can be added to personalize.”

Pam Kessie of Savings Grace Vintage in Fort Wayne says one her favorite, simple repurposing projects is turning a old window into a buffet or gardening station. “The size of the widow allows for creativity with the project. If the glass is intact they can be left in or painted over,” she says. “If the glass is out, boards can be placed behind the grids and painted with chalkboard paint. Hooks and ornate trim can be added to personalize.”

“Perhaps the easiest way to renew a piece of furniture is paint. Let’s say you find a cute, but dated, side table at the local thrift store. It’s the size you need, and the price is right, but the style just doesn’t fit your decor. Armed with a jar of chalk paint, and a couple hours of your time, you can completely transform that table,” says Traci Hayner of Vanover. She is a distributor for DecoArt’s Chalky Finish paint line, and teaches classes at Maisie & Maude in Fort Wayne.

Pam Kessie of Saving Grace Vintage in Fort Wayne holds classes about restyling furniture. She says it’s a wonderful way to make a old piece new again, and offers these tips:

  1. Clean the piece properly. Use a product such as TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) or a multipurpose cleaner such as Awesome, available at your local hardware or discount store.
  2. Lightly sand the piece to remove any remaining dirt.
  3. Wipe the piece clean of dust from sanding.
  4. Choose the best paint for your desired look. Options include milk paint, chalk paint and acrylic paint.
  5. Be sure and look for a quality furniture paint line that is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and contains little or no VOCs.
  6. Look for a furniture paint retailer that is certified in paint knowledge and instruction. Many local certified paint retailers offer workshops to introduce you to furniture painting.
  7. Follow all manufacturer guidelines for quality furniture restyling.

 

Repurpose

turn dresser into bench

A dated dresser was refurbished as a charming bench. (Photo by Ron Sesney)

Ron Sesney of Fort Wayne turned to transforming furniture as a hobby after retirement. “I have repurposed a drop down desk and a cabinet into wine cabinets, an old console television, two end tables, headboard/footboards into indoor and outdoor benches, dressers into benches with drawer storage below, and old worn fence slats in wall mounted coat racks.” Sesney’s shares with us the steps to turning that dresser drawer into a pet bed.

  1. Cut a small arch in the front of the drawer for easier entry.
  2. Add feet to the bottom for some height. (Bun feet work well.)
  3. If you want, you can use some small pieces of wood and make a headboard.
  4. Paint or stain, and add bedding.

 

Refinish

Fort Wayne resident, Sarah Stegelman, began refinishing furniture to avoid paying the high cost of new, while still having “real” pieces. Now Stegelman sells revived furniture online through Etsy, Craigslist, and the like. While each piece is unique, there are common steps necessary for every project:

  1. Have a budget.
  2. Select paint colors.
  3. Prep: (Strip veneer, sand out scratches, use wood filler to fill in scratches and gouges).
  4. Paint.
  5. Wait at least 30 minutes between paint coats and no more than 2-3 coats in a day.
  6. Once the desired look has been achieved with the paint, apply your choice of finish. If applying wax, 2-3 coats is sufficient. If applying polyurethane or polycrylic, follow the instructions given on the product. One of Stegelman’s more recent projects was converting a tube TV stand (rapidly becoming outdated in this age of flat screens) into a painted “pie safe.” Her refinished projects can be found at: www.facebook.com/theeclecticmoon.

 

These makeovers don’t have to be expensive. Salvage bits of wood and paint from previous projects. Or check websites such as your local Freecycle or Craigslist for items others don’t want. Ask on Facebook for materials you need.

The key here is to re-imagine a piece. If you have an old dresser that doesn’t serve, yank out the drawers, knock out any dividers between them, paint the interior, and make it into a handy bookshelf. An ancient treadle sewing machine can become the base to an end table by prying off the top and adding a flat piece of painted wood. A discarded curved foot of a bed can become a bench with the addition of some wooden legs and padding. The possibilities are endless, and a quick web search can yield tons of ideas for your piece.

So the next time you look at a piece of furniture and are tempted to kick it to the curb, try re-visioning it first. If you’d like to see what other locals are doing with old furniture, search Facebook for the local group “Fort Wayne Revived and Refinished Furniture.”

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About Drema Drudge

Drema Drudge received her MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University and has had her fiction most recently published in The Louisville Review, Mused, ATG, Mother Earth News, and Penumbra. She is a frequent contributor to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Drema is married to musician Barry Drudge. They have two grown children, Mia and Zack. Feel free to visit Drema's website where she explores her passion for writing about art at dremadrudge.com.

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