Amazing Furniture Makeovers: Easy DIY Projects to Transform Thrifted Finds into Beautiful Custom Pieces

Amazing Furniture Makeovers: Easy DIY Projects to Transform Thrifted Finds into Beautiful Custom Pieces

by Jen Crider


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Upcycle Your Secondhand Bargains into Stunning Statement Pieces

Full of inspiring ideas for seasoned refurbishers and the know-how to get anyone started, Amazing Furniture Makeovers helps you give your antique pieces new life without losing any of their vintage charm. Jen Crider, founder of Girl in the Garage, breaks down everything you need to know about furniture makeovers—from basic chair reupholstery to remaking coffee tables into benches. There won’t be an article of furniture you can’t make more beautiful, functional, and personal.

This book makes it easy to transform whatever old or wobbly furniture you have into something better than new. Each chapter walks you through unique projects to illustrate Jen’s straightforward approach to furniture styling and repair, and these techniques can be used on a variety of pieces. Learn to decoupage a bookcase with maps for a classy look. Transfer original images onto large-scale furniture for a style all your own. Dress up an end table with a distressed paint job to add farmhouse flair to any room. Every new technique will give you the confidence you need to get remarkable results on your first makeover—and every makeover after.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624147951
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 332,789
Product dimensions: 7.99(w) x 9.05(h) x 0.51(d)

About the Author

Jen Crider is the founder of Girl in the Garage. Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Woman’s Day, Country Living, and This Old House. She lives in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Read an Excerpt


Moody Blue Buffet

Antique buffets like this are popular not only for dining rooms but also as repurposed TV stands in living rooms or bedrooms. They're not too hard to find secondhand and can be easily refreshed with new paint. You could stick with a basic neutral — but why not have some fun and choose an unexpected color? In this tutorial, you'll see how one color of paint and dark wax turned this boring brown buffet into a bold blue beauty.


Staple remover Wood filler (I used Elmer's ProBond&0174; wood filler)
Small scraper
220-grit sandpaper Scraper Tape measure
¼" (6-mm) wood sheet Table saw (or have wood cut at the hardware store)
Safety glasses and hearing protection Wood glue or DAP&0174; adhesive caulk Clamps Hammer Small nails (1" [2.5 cm] or shorter)
Blue paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint&0174; in Napoleonic Blue)
Paintbrush Brown furniture wax (I used Annie Sloan's dark brown wax)
Lint-free cloths New knobs or pulls

1. Start by cleaning your piece, especially if it's been in your garage for a couple of years. Ahem. Refer here for helpful tips on making repairs and prepping your piece for a makeover.

2. Then remove any old dishcloths that were stapled inside the drawers.

3. This vintage piece had dents, scratches, some chipping veneer, and beautiful rustic wood grain on top. I opted to fill some of the big imperfections with a scraper and wood filler and leave some as part of its character and history.

4. Let the wood filler dry for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how wide and deep the area is, then lightly sand over the filled areas for smoothness.

5. Behind the two doors, it was partially painted and there were weird clumps stuck to the bottom. I used a scraper and 220-grit sandpaper to smooth over those areas.

6. Both sides of the buffet had large chunks of veneer missing.

7. Since those areas were inset anyway, Guy in the Garage measured and cut thin panels of wood to fit over both sides.

8. Spread wood glue all over the panel. I used adhesive caulk because it was available nearby.

9. Insert the new panel over the inset area, pressing firmly. Use clamps to hold it in place and let it dry.

10. Hammer a small nail near each corner to keep it more secure. I used 1-inch (2.5-cm) nails, but you should choose nails that are short enough not to poke through to the inside of your piece.

11. Next, paint the buffet with approximately two coats of blue paint. I almost flipped the first time I used this color blue — it looks so electric when it's still wet!

12. Here you can see the difference between when the paint is dry on top and when it's still wet. Thankfully it tones down a lot.

13. Sand and paint the drawers also. If the drawers had been in better shape, I wouldn't have painted them. But it looked like there was felt glued down sometime before the dishcloths were stapled on.

Give everything 2 to 3 coats of paint as needed, letting the paint dry for about 20 to 30 minutes between coats. Then lightly sand it, focusing more on the edges and details first before moving to random smaller areas on the buffet for a naturally distressed look. You want it to look like it has gently weathered over time.

14. Protect the buffet with a dark brown wax topcoat. Wipe it on with a lint-free cloth, working it into the grooves and details. Wipe away the excess with another cloth. The brown tones down the blue even more and helps give it that rustic finish we're going for. In this photo, the left side has no wax and the right side has the dark wax. The wax should feel dry to the touch within 24 hours. However, the full cure time for wax is about 30 days, so be gentle with your piece for the first month or so.

15. Add new hardware, such as glass knobs like these to class it up, or maybe something in bronze to keep everything dark and consistent.


Pretty in Pink and Walnut

I must confess, this antique dresser sat buried in my storage unit for several years after I scored it for only nine dollars at a yard sale. Even though it needed quite a bit of work, who could resist a deal like that? Finally, she stands proud with a sweet two-tone look — a newly stained top and perfectly pink bottom. In this project, you'll learn how to confidently tackle exterior problems so you can dig that damaged antique out of the back of your garage.


Wide scraper Random orbit sander Safety glasses and face mask for protection
¼" (6-mm) plywood paneling Table saw (or have the wood cut at the hardware store)
Wood glue or DAP&0174; adhesive caulk Clamps Hammer Small nails (1" [2.5 cm] or shorter)
Wood filler (I used Elmer's ProBond wood filler)
Small scraper
220-grit sandpaper Minwax&0174; Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner Lint-free cloths Gloves Minwax&0174; Wood Finish Stain in Special Walnut Rust-Oleum Varathane&0174; matte polyurethane Wide brush for polyurethane Brown paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Honfleur)
Paintbrushes Pink paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Scandinavian Pink)
Small detail paintbrush
320-grit sandpaper Furniture wax (I used Annie Sloan's clear wax)
Wax brush New knobs or pulls

1. This dresser was a real beauty about 100 years or so ago.

2. Unfortunately, the top was badly damaged and there were nicks and scratches everywhere.

3. The veneer on top was so brittle that it came off easily with a scraper and a little bit of effort. If your veneer is tough to remove, lay a damp hot towel on top for several hours to soften the veneer glue, and then pry it off with a scraper. Refer here for helpful tips on making repairs and prepping your piece for a makeover.

4. Sand the top smooth with a random orbit sander.

5. Just like in the Moody Blue Buffet makeover, both sides of this dresser had big chunks of chipping veneer. If you have the same problem, cut two panels to fit within the inset areas. Apply wood glue or adhesive caulk all over the "less pretty" side of the panels.

6. Press the panels into place and leave them clamped for several hours. Hammer a nail near each corner to keep it more secure. I used 1-inch (2.5-cm) nails, but you should choose nails that are short enough not to poke through to the inside of your piece.

7. Carefully fill small chips and gouges with wood filler and a scraper. After about 20 to 30 minutes, make sure it's dry and then lightly sand the area smooth with 220-grit sandpaper.

8. Wipe pre-stain wood conditioner on the top of the dresser with a lint-free cloth. The conditioner helps prevent blotchiness and gives the stain a more even finish.

9. Next, put on work gloves and slowly apply the stain in long, even strokes with a lint-free cloth. Press the stain into the wood grain. Once the entire surface has been covered, wipe the excess stain away with a clean cloth and let it dry for at least 30 minutes. This dresser top received three coats of Special Walnut stain.

10. Protect the stained top by applying a polyurethane topcoat with a wide brush. Never shake the can, just gently stir it. You do not want bubbles in your poly! Work in long strokes, about half the length of the top. Make sure you have even coverage, and keep an extra cloth nearby to wipe away drips near the edges. Let the poly dry. The dry time varies depending on your temperature and humidity. Check it after 30 minutes to see if it looks dry enough for another coat of poly. Apply 2 to 3 more coats of poly. The top will be dry enough for light usage after 24 hours.

11. Paint the unfinished wood sides brown so the base color will be consistent everywhere once you paint over it.

12. Paint the body and drawers in a fun color like pink. You may need 2 to 3 coats for even coverage.

13. Use a small detail brush to paint near the stained top.

14. Lightly sand over the edges, curves and details with 320-grit sandpaper for a naturally distressed finish. You want the wood to peek through from underneath the paint, but don't overdo it or it won't look very natural.

15. Brush clear wax over the painted areas for protection. Work in small sections and wipe away the excess wax with a lint-free cloth. The full cure time for wax is about 30 days, so be gentle with it for the first month or so.

16. Lastly, add some bling with fancy new knobs so this lovely lady can really shine!


Rustic Stenciled Dresser

If furniture could talk, I'm sure this piece would tell some incredible stories from its lifetime. Even though the finish was a bit dated, the late-1800s Knapp joints, primitive nails, and keyholes have such rustic charm. And the drawers all slid smoothly, which is a rare find in such an aged piece!

I wanted to update this dresser in a way that would enhance its charm and add a touch of whimsy. This makeover will demonstrate how to refresh a very old antique while keeping its original character.


Wood filler (I used Elmer's ProBond wood filler)
Small scraper
220-grit sandpaper Gray paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey)
320-grit sandpaper Lint-free cloths Painter's tape Stencil (I used Miss Mustard Seed's Nancy stencil)
White paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White)
Thick paper plate Plastic spoon Foam pouncers (larger one for stenciling and smaller one for making dots — mine are by Martha Stewart Crafts)
Paper towels, folded White furniture wax (I used Annie Sloan's white wax)
Wax brush

1. Clean and make repairs to your dresser as needed. Refer here for helpful tips on making repairs and prepping your piece for a makeover. This piece was in great shape for its age and didn't need any major repairs.

2. Remove the drawers. It seemed like the drawer pulls had been changed at some point, because there were deep grooves where the former pulls used to be. I filled those circles with wood filler and a scraper but otherwise left all the little nicks and dents alone as part of its character. Once dry, sand over the filled areas with 220-grit sandpaper.

3. Next, give your piece 2 to 3 coats of gray paint. I skipped painting the insides of the drawers because the wood was in good condition.

4. Always paint the inside of the frame where the drawers go. Once they're pushed in, you want the paint to peek through from underneath and on the sides, not the original wood. I do this for all of my makeovers to give them a more finished look.

5. Lightly sand all over for smoothness with 320-grit sandpaper.

6. Tape your chosen stencil to the center of a drawer. Since this stencil is pretty simple, I started it off-center and then flipped it around later so there would be three flourishes centered on each drawer.

7. Get your white paint, strong paper plate, plastic spoon, large foam pouncer, and folded paper towels ready for stenciling. Scoop some paint onto the plate so it's easier to work with.

8. With the foam pouncer, dab it into the paint and then blot the excess off onto the folded paper towel. You don't want too much paint on the pouncer or you might end up with globs and drips under the stencil. Gently dab it onto the stencil, let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes to dry, and then go over it a second time.

9. When that section was done, I flipped the stencil to overlap the center flourish and then repeated the previous steps, stenciling just the left area. Miss Mustard Seed's stencils are based on hand-painted designs, so they are not perfectly symmetrical. By flipping it over, the left and right flourishes end up being a mirror image of each other. If you're using a regular stencil, you shouldn't need to flip it.

10. After all the drawers are stenciled, add some whimsical dots along the edges with a small foam pouncer. Blot it on the paper towel first and then you can make several dots before dabbing it into the paint again. Don't worry about it being perfect.

11. For fun, add a stencil and dots to the sides of the dresser too!

12. Let the paint dry for about 10 minutes. Very lightly sand over the white painted areas with 320-grit sandpaper to give it a timeworn, faded look. Also sand near the edges of the drawers and dresser body to let the original wood show through some.

13. The wood pulls were still usable, so they were also painted gray.

14. Apply a topcoat to protect your beautiful work. I chose white wax to soften the gray tone a little more. Remember that wax takes about 30 days to fully cure, so be cautious setting things on top of the dresser for the first several weeks.

15. Be proud of your newest artistic creation!


Striped Chateau Dresser

French-themed makeovers have always been a weakness of mine, since I'm a complete Francophile and have been lucky to travel there twice. I thought this thrifted dresser would look perfectly Parisian with blue and white stripes and a sweet "Chateau" stencil on the front. In this makeover, you'll discover how to paint stripes without measuring and other tips for transforming a piece from blah to oh là là!


Wood filler (I used Elmer's ProBond&0174; wood filler)
Small scraper
220-grit sandpaper Light blue paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint&0174; in Duck Egg)
Paintbrushes FrogTape&0174; Delicate Surface painter's tape White paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White)
Small detail paintbrush Chateau stencil (Fusion&0153; Stencil #17)
Foam pouncer Black or dark gray paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite)
Paper towel
320-grit sandpaper Furniture wax (I used Annie Sloan's clear wax)
Wax brush Lint-free cloth New drawer pulls

1. Although this dresser was plain, it had good bones. It's perfect for a creative makeover.

Make any needed repairs and remove the old hardware. Fill in one hole on each side with wood filler and a scraper since we'll only need one hole for the new pulls. Let it dry and lightly sand with 220-grit sandpaper. Refer here for helpful tips on making repairs and prepping your piece for a makeover.

2. Paint the dresser with 2 to 3 coats of light blue paint and lightly sand until the surface is smooth. The very top will be painted white later.

3. Next you'll learn how to paint stripes without doing any tedious measuring. Decide how wide you want the stripes to be. I wanted these to be the width of two strips of tape. I also wanted the first stripe to overlap the corner because that's how my measurements worked out. Starting on one side, line up three strips of painter's tape. Then carefully remove the center strip.

4. Place that strip to the right of the third strip. Then remove the third strip you taped on, and place it to the right of the last strip.

5. Press them flat into place. Now you have a non-taped area that's the width of two strips, and then a taped area of two strips.

6. Repeat the process until the left and right sides are both taped. On the front of the dresser, you will need to measure just to make sure that one stripe goes exactly down the center. Then work out from either side creating taped stripes. Press down over the tape to remove bubbles.

7. Paint over the blue areas with white paint. Again, work on one side at a time.

8. Once a side is painted white, wait a few minutes and while the paint is still slightly wet, carefully remove the tape to reveal straight stripes. If you do have any areas where paint got under the tape, use a small detail paintbrush to fix them. Finish each side and then paint the top of the dresser white too. Let the paint dry for about an hour before moving on to the next step.

9. Center a stencil over the front of the dresser. Plan out where you want the words to go because you might have to reposition the stencil for each drawer. Use painter's tape to hold it in place.

10. Dab a foam pouncer into the black paint and blot it onto a paper towel to remove most of the paint. Less is more when you're stenciling.

11. Stencil the crown onto the top drawer.

12. It should dry within 1 to 2 minutes since you're only using a small amount of paint. Reposition the stencil and paint the next section onto the middle drawer.

13. Move the stencil to the bottom drawer to paint the bottom line.

14. Fill in the little gaps that the stencil left behind with a small detail brush. This makes it look less obvious that you used a stencil. Let everything dry for approximately 30 minutes.

15. Lightly sand the dresser with 320-grit sandpaper and wipe away the dust. Then apply clear wax as a topcoat, wiping away the excess wax with a lint-free cloth. Be careful with the dresser for about 30 days until the wax has time to fully cure.

16. Add new hardware that doesn't compete with your painted dresser, like these clear glass pulls. C'est magnifique!


Batik-Inspired MCM Nightstand

The clean, simple lines of mid-century modern furniture always draw me in. This thrifted nightstand is unique in that the wood was unfinished when I found it, and it almost looked handmade (although very sturdy and well-made). I wanted to do a bohemian, batik-inspired design on the drawers with small dots and chose an unconventional "paintbrush"— an eraser from a broken pencil.


220-grit sandpaper Primer (I used Zinsser B-I-N&0174; Shellac-Based Primer)
Paintbrush for priming Wood filler (I used Minwax&0174; Stainable Wood Filler)
Small scraper Yardstick Pencil Drill
3/16" (4.8-mm)-size drill bit Safety glasses Stain (I used Minwax&0174; Wood Finish&0153; stain in Special Walnut)
Paintbrush for staining Clean rag Polyurethane (I used Rust-Oleum Varathane&0174; water-based polyurethane in Crystal Clear Matte)
Paintbrush for applying polyurethane White paint (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint&0174; in Pure White)
Paintbrushes for painting Painter's tape Round shape for tracing (I used a lid from a snack container)
Blue paint (I used a Valspar paint sample called Indigo Cloth)
Pencil with an eraser Paper towels Furniture wax (I used Annie Sloan's clear wax)
Lint-free cloth New drawer pulls


Excerpted from "Amazing Furniture Makeovers"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Jen Crider.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Tips for Buying Furniture,
Products and Tools,
Start with Simple: Working with Paint and Stain,
Moody Blue Buffet,
Pretty in Pink and Walnut,
Painted Pattern Techniques,
Rustic Stenciled Dresser,
Striped Chateau Dresser,
Batik-Inspired MCM Nightstand,
Reupholstery Made Easy,
Simple Chair Makeover with Reupholstered Seat,
Cotton Stem Sofa Bench,
Armchair with French Grain Sack,
How to Create Depth with Layers and Texture,
Dry Brushed French Provincial Nightstand,
Creating a Vintage French Finish with Layers,
Embossed Nightstand,
How to Transfer Images onto Furniture,
Bienvenue Bench,
Medallion Side Table,
Bicycle Armoire,
The Ancient Art of Decoupage,
Aztec Dresser with Wrapping Paper,
Old World Cabinet,
Repurposed Hutch to Dollhouse,
Creating a High-End Look with Upholstery Tacks and Nailhead Trim,
Reupholstered Bench with Upholstery Tacks,
Glamorous Nailhead Dresser,
Faux Furniture,
Suitcase Dresser,
Vintage Soda Pop Machine,
Faux Industrial Printer's Cabinet,
Outdated to Upcycled,
Singer Sewing Table to Planked Desk,
Coffee Table to Tufted Bench,
TV Armoire to Shiplap Storage Shelves,
Tips for Repairs and Prep,
Thank You,
About the Author,

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