So you’ve bought your first home and there isn’t much budget left for furniture – damn you, increasing property prices! Thankfully, parents, aunties, and used furniture stores are offering up their old coffee tables, dressers, lawn chairs, and more. But how do you turn “trash” into treasure?
With imagination and some elbow grease, of course! Oh, and this 3-step guide.
1. Choose and clean
Your sweet grandma might mean well and offer you an armchair that clearly hasn’t aged as well as she has, and you might be tempted to pick up worn furniture from second-hand furniture stores, but the key is to choose wisely!
Attempting to salvage old furniture that better belong to the trash might cost you more money (and certainly more time) than an affordable Ikea piece. Look at the quality or the uniqueness of the piece you intend to adopt – Is it solid wood? Is it a piece or design that’s rarely manufactured anymore? Does it have sentimental value within the family? In these cases, adopt away!
However, if it’s a fibre wood piece, has major parts that require re-work, or if it’s an old mattress, then stay away.
Once you’ve chosen your pieces, it’s time to check for bed bugs which can easily hide in soft furniture (cushion, curtains, and sofa) and within wood. Place the furniture on a white or light coloured sheet, then run the edge of a hard card (e.g. expired credit card) over every surface, crevice, and joint.
If there are bed bugs, you’ll send them scurrying or notice other signs like dark red feces and shed skins.
If you find bed bugs, ditch the furniture. Trust us, it’s not worth it. Bed bugs are stubborn pests, and they can easily crawl into other areas of your home.
Once that’s done, clean and disinfect. For hard surfaces, wipe them down with a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant. To get rid of odour, use 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar.
For soft surfaces like cushions, thoroughly vacuum them. If it smells funky, there’s probably mildew. Make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the cushion, then scrub it before drying it under the sun.
The easiest way to revamp an old piece of furniture is to give it a new coat of paint or spray – get ideas here. If you’re into patterns, then use wallpaper instead.
To restore wooden pieces, sand, prime, tint, then apply a finishing gloss. To add even more freshness, use a bright coat of paint instead of wood tint. Otherwise, ask your neighbourhood furniture store or a handyman if they can restore it for you for cheap – it’ll still cost you less than a new piece!
Sometimes, it’s not so much a matter of restoration than replacement. If you’ve got a beautiful dining table with rotting legs, then replace the legs. You can get these from Ikea or you can take the whole DIY thing a step further by sourcing for used tables solely for their legs.
The same goes for old cushions or fabric. Buy fabric with prints or colours that will match the furniture’s new room, then reupholster the cushions with the help of online video tutorials. You’ll be surprised what a new coat of paint and new fabric will do for a tired chair!
You don’t necessarily have to restore an old dresser into a new dresser. An old dresser can be repurposed as a side table the same way an old step ladder can be reimagined as a fancy towel rack.
Look at the features of the old piece you want to adopt – does it have storage space or does it have a large flat surface? Items like crates and briefcases have slots that make them ideal storage furniture, be slots under a table or as the table itself.
Meanwhile, items that have large flat surfaces like a door can be repurposed as a table top or even as a headboard.
Think outside the box! An old sewing machine with intricate brass legs might make a good vanity table while a chest makes a good coffee table – surface and storage space #ftw!
Even broken items can be reused: the broken back of a chair with intricate design should not go to waste. Saw it off, sand it down, and paint it to to transform it into a decorative piece; or screw in hooks for a hookrail.