Revamp Old Furniture Instead of Replacing

by Becky Striepe, Green Options

We’ve all got pieces of furniture that look like they’re on the way out. When I first moved to Atlanta, a friend gave me a coffee table. I had no money and very little furniture, so I was grateful even though the table was sort of…well…it was ugly, alright? It was an ugly, ugly table. Rather than pitch it, I decided to give it a fresh coat of white paint and try my hand at a mosaic. We still have that little coffee table living out on the front porch! It’s a little bit dusty at the moment, but I’ll show you a picture if you promise not to judge my housekeeping skills:

Even though it’s a little bit worn now and the colors have faded from sitting in the sun, I love that little table like no other. I can’t look at it without thinking about the time spent carefully laying out the pattern until the design was just how I wanted it and the rewarding process of painting the wood and laying the tile. What started as an ugly hand-me-down is now a treasured piece! Here are a few options if you’re looking to do your own furniture revamp!

If you’re trying to spruce something up that can support a little bit of weight, mosaic might be a good option! Not only can you salvage a scratched tabletop, you can divert some trash from the waste stream while you’re at it! You might cover your project with recycled glass, old bottlecaps, or broken ceramics or tiles that would have headed for the landfill. Check out this tutorial from eHow for mosaic instructions.

Mosaic is a little bit labor-intensive and requires a whole lot of materials. If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, decoupage might be what you’re after! You can even decoupage fabric onto a worn out chair to give it a whole new life! What a great chance to raid your scrap bin! For some more decoupage inspiration check out this post over at Ikea Hacker. They show a lovely combination of paint and decoupage and a beautiful table decoupaged with paint chips. Here are some helpful decoupage instructions from Gothic Martha Stewart.

Paints and Stains
Whether you want to simply change the color of your piece or add a fancypants design, there are a bunch of great options out there! Check out these vibrant stains that Lenore used to spruce up an old dresser. If paint is more your speed, hunt down a low- or no-VOC variety. Jessica Gottlieb has a few eco-friendly paint options over at Eco Child’s Play. For some tips on painting furniture, This Young House has you covered!

If you’re sewing-inclined, you might consider recovering or slip covering an old piece. An old table or trunk can look brand new if you put together a fitted slip cover for it. Feeling really ambitious? You might try recovering the whole piece, like the famous IKEA chair revamp by Minouette. For a simpler, no-sew recovering option, check this video from ReadyMade on reupholstering a dining room chair. You can keep this eco-friendly by using a low-VOC spray adhesive, like this one from 3M:


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Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz4 years ago

~Some good ideas~Decoupage is fun to do!~

Mary B.
Mary B.4 years ago

Pamela C, I love the idea of useing bees wax with orange on unfinished wood. Do you have a recipe? Thanks.

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago


Dan S.
Dan S.5 years ago

You are putting the furniture stores out of business, thanks for the info.

Nikola Paganini
Nikola Paganini5 years ago


Janna Spektor

love repainting old furniture and decoupaging them. I can sit in my room for days and just paint and paint and then maybe add decorations to the furniture. Like old wooden boxes, I will repaint the box and then do a theme

Sasha J.
Sasha J.5 years ago


Ireena W.
Past Member 5 years ago

Wonderful advice. I also love to revamp antique furniture, my biggest project being a dining room table, three weeks of sanding but a proud finish it is.
vitamin e

Janna Spektor

thanks for the great blog

Tracey Shrier
Past Member 6 years ago

I always love getting new ideas on how to revamp old furniture. I have a huge bag of really old bottle caps that I found at an antique store that I'm just itching to make something with. We have an old coffee table that I think I might recover with them.
I recently ran across a contest on about uploading a photo of your latest creation made from reusing something else. HP joined up with Greenwala and is giving the winner a new HP mini laptop and a printer! For more info check out