Everyone has that one piece of furniture that is functional and came at just the right price. Unfortunately, the furniture is also usually ugly.

Whether it is a tired old cabinet from the 80s or a standard Ikea set, there are plenty of ways for you to update your own furniture. You do not need any special skills or tools. All you need to transform your home is some inspiration and a fresh coat of paint.

1. Choose a color scheme

To create an updated piece of furniture, you will need to choose two colors. The first will be the principle color, the one that dominates the furniture. The second will serve as the undercoat and will complement the principle color.

There are no limits to your color combinations. You can try as many different combinations as you like. Just try to ensure that the colors complement each other vaguely.

A good rule of thumb is to use a darker color underneath because it will be easier to spot.

2. Prep your furniture

When using traditional paint, you might need to strip your furniture before adding that fresh coat. This will improve the look of the colors and help the paint stay longer.

The stripping process is not necessary. It all depends on your furniture, your paint and your goals.

If the furniture you are painting is old and not originally your own, check the furniture for woodworm. If you find any, be sure to treat it before you begin painting.

3. Paint on the undercoat

The undercoat is the first layer of paint to go onto the furniture.

If you’re distressing your furniture, you should paint the undercoat in places where you are going to scuff the furniture. Be sure to remember the places where natural scuffing would occur, paying close attention to the edges and corners of the furniture.

Be sure to note which parts you have covered with the undercoat if you plan to distress the furniture. You will cover this with a second coat of paint after the first layer has dried. Forgetting where you painted can cause trouble.

4. Let the undercoat dry

Most undercoats will dry in around 20 minutes. Be sure to let it dry fully before you move on to the second coat.

If you’re in a rush or just can’t wait, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.

5. Add a second coat

The second coat of paint is key for upcycling furniture. This is where you add your principle color.

The second coat of paint is also where you get to start having more fun with the paint. You can take this time to use different types of brushes or painting techniques on the furniture. This can add texture and depth to the furniture.

6. Dry and wax

You will need to let your second coat dry, too. Again, you can speed up this process with a quick blast of the hair dryer.

Once the second coat is dry, you should apply a layer of wax. This wax will protect the second coat. You need this protection even if you are distressing the furniture.

7. Distress the paint

Distressed furniture gets its name because the technique involves upsetting your fresh paint job to make it look shabby.

The way that you do this is up to your own taste. If you’re not sure how far you want to go, start out with a medium-grade sandpaper and sand the furniture by hand. This will provide a soft, aged look that remains classic without looking too beat up.

You want to avoid heavy sanding unless it will achieve the specific look that you are going for.

Remember that you can always sand more of the furniture later. There is no need to go overboard the first time around.

Sanding is not the only tool you can use for distressing. Depending on the look you desire, you can hit the furniture with a hammer or whack it with some chains.

8. Add more wax

Once you have reached the right level of distressing, you can add another layer of wax. This will seal all your hard work in. Try to leave it to set overnight.

9. Buff it out

Once your wax is sealed, give your furniture a good buff with a furniture cloth. This will clean it up and add a shine to your brand new old furniture.

10. Optional waxing

If you want to add more years onto your furniture add on some dark wax. The dark wax with add a rich depth and texture to your furniture. Be sure to buff it out afterwards.

Upcycling your furniture takes less time and effort that you think. Combine these 10 steps with your own creativity to breathe new life into your furniture.

Featured photo credit: Patrick Feller via flickr.com

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