Trash to Treasure: How to Transform and Repurpose Old Wood Furniture

August 10th, 2023 Blog

Looking downwards over a person’s shoulder. They’re sanding a piece of wood. There’s sawdust all over the floor

Do any of these situations ring true for you? You have a piece of furniture at home that looks a little worse for wear; you’ve inherited heirloom furniture that’s seen better days; or you’ve seen potential in a piece at a vintage or thrift store, and now you’re unsure what to do next. Maybe you scored a curb-side pick-up that you’d like to makeover. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Here, you’ll learn some top tips and ideas on how to transform your old wooden furniture, turning it from trash to treasure, inspiring you to give your old furniture a second chance, and empowering you to extend the lifespan of your furniture.

The Perks of Upcycling and Transforming Old Wood Furniture

There are many perks to upcycling and transforming old furniture. First, it can give you a deep sense of satisfaction. It can also save you money. And another major perk is that you can revamp your piece to match your current aesthetic preferences, giving you a piece of furniture that’s uniquely yours!

You’re also doing a great act of green by saving furniture from landfill. It’s estimated that between Canada and the United States alone, over ten million tons of furniture waste end up in landfill every year.

Any opportunity to save furniture from landfill is surely worth serious consideration!

Deciding what route to take for your repurposing project will depend on the state of disrepair your furniture is in, what you’d like to achieve with your transformation project, and how comfortable you are with DIY projects.

Once you have a solid handle on these factors, you’ll know which route is best for you and your furniture. Here are just a few transformation ideas.

Consider Staining Your Furniture

First, staining furniture is a great way to update an existing stain that’s faded away with time. It also allows you to match older furniture to the newer pieces of wooden furniture in your home. For example, you can match your bedside tables to suit your new bedhead, wooden coffee tables can be stained to match a new TV console, and a hallway bench can be stained to match your new flooring.

Staining furniture can take some time, as the wood sometimes needs several coats for the stain to accentuate the grain adequately.

You have a couple of options for stain type.

  • Oil stains are great for highlighting the wood grain, and they work well on hardwoods; the downside to oil stains is that they take a while to dry, and the odor is quite strong. They do, however, give an elevated, professional feel.
  • On the other hand, water stains work well on softer woods, like cedar. Keep in mind that water-based stains tend to cover the wood grain; however, they dry very quickly and emit a low odor.

Staining is an excellent option for refinishing old furniture as it allows you to retain and preserve the wood grain, as well as the piece’s original earthy charm.

It’s always recommended to do a test patch on a hidden area or on an inconspicuous spot on your furniture to decide if you’ll be pleased with the end results.

Why Not Paint Your Old Furniture?

One way to immediately transform a piece of old wooden furniture is to paint it. Painting is an excellent way to quickly and seamlessly colour-coordinate your furniture to match your space.

Painting wooden furniture involves a few steps, including refilling, sanding, wiping, and of course, painting. However, the effort is well worth the end product. For the best results, semigloss paint or satin paint, either latex or oil-based, is generally recommended.

Update Hardware

If sanding, staining, painting, and refilling aren’t for you, updating the hardware on your old wood furniture is a simple and easy way to give your piece a new lease on life.

Changing the handles on a dresser and switching the feet on a sideboard is relatively easy. New hardware with a modern flair can immediately brighten up a piece of dated furniture, taking it from drab to fab.

An up close, angle shot of a dark wood dresser with an ornamental, decorative carving along the top

Reimagine and Repurpose It

You’ve undoubtedly seen DIY hacks online, turning breadbins into side tables — and beyond. If you have the tools and a core understanding of woodworking, there’s no reason you can’t transform a bedroom dresser into a bathroom washstand or a nightstand into a drink cabinet. Bar stools can be shortened to become footstools, or a chest of drawers could be transformed into a shelving unit.

If you have a piece of furniture that is truly past its best years, with some gentle sanding, painting, sealing, and a little imagination, you could use it in your yard or on your balcony. With some creativity, you could craft a new-to-you potting table, a planter or extra storage for tools and gloves.

That said, before you deem a piece beyond repair, it’s certainly worth asking a professional for their advice on the salvageability of your wooden furniture and if we can help bring it back to life.

Professional Help May Prove Valuable

You can absolutely paint, stain, and repurpose old wooden furniture yourself. However, if your piece is well-crafted, solid wood furniture, you’re sure to want the transformation to match the integrity and quality of the original piece. In cases such as this, connecting with wood furniture experts will undoubtedly prove valuable.

Not only will you get professional results, but expert furniture refinishing can also save you money. Restoring your furniture to its original beauty can save you up to 65% of what you would pay for a new piece.

Working with industry professionals, you can decide on an effective plan of action, whether that involves remedying surface damage, staining, painting, or crafting a contrasting look — giving you the best of both design worlds.

So, when it comes to restoring family heirlooms, antiques, and refinishing pieces of quality furniture, if you’re unsure how to go about the process, leave it to the professionals — they can help you to update a tired look or restore your heirloom furniture to its former glory!