Men and women furnish their homes and apartments in various ways. For some, home furnishings are an extension of their personalities, while others prioritize budget over style when furnishing their domiciles.
Secondhand furniture has long been used to furnish homes and apartments. While young people working with tight budgets and living in their first apartments might be the most likely to rely on secondhand furniture, such items are not exclusive to recent college graduates and young professionals. Homeowners with a love of antiques or those who simply can't resist thrift store bargains also are likely to lean on secondhand furniture.
Used furnishings range from expensive high-end antiques to bargain bin chairs and couches found in thrift stores or purchased online. Pricey antiques often come fully restored, but that still leaves legions of shoppers who need to bring their secondhand furnishings back to life. The following are a few ways to do just that.
* Embrace your inner Picasso. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward stylizing secondhand furniture. Items that have been through a lot before making it to your home may benefit from some sanding before receiving a fresh coat of paint. Once items have been sanded, smoothed and cleaned, apply some primer before dusting off your paintbrush. Primer makes it easier for the fresh coat of paint to bond to the furniture, making it less likely that the new coat will chip or crack in the months to come. After applying primer, the painting can commence. Two to three coats should be sufficient to give the item a fresh new look. Allow the item to dry for several hours before showing it off and putting it to good use.
* Upgrade old upholstery. Old chairs and couches tend to have ample wear and tear. But such items are still useful as long as their bones are still sturdy, even if cushions have flattened out and fabric is suffering from tears or stains. Reupholstering old furniture can turn inexpensive but worn down older items into seemingly brand new pieces at a fraction of the cost of new furniture. According to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, the following supplies are necessary to successfully reupholster furniture:
- needle-nose pliers
- camera or notepaper and pencil
- marking pen
- staple gun and staples, 3/8- or 5/16-inch
- 1/2-inch batting
- upholstery fabric (chairs typically require 5 yards)
- straight pins
- 5/32-inch welt cord
- sewing machine
- upholstery-weight thread
- tack strips
- fabric glue, optional
- upholstery tacks or nailhead trim, optional
- black breathable fabric for the underside of furniture
Reupholstering furniture can be a tedious process, and one novices might want to leave to the professionals. The cost of reupholstering secondhand furniture bought at a garage sale, thrift store or private seller online is likely still less expensive than buying a new piece, so you might still make out in the long run. If reupholstering proves too expensive but the furniture still has ample and comfortable cushioning, consider employing a slip cover to hide stained or torn upholstery. Slip covers are typically inexpensive, and they can be purchased in various colors.
* Wash away years of wear and tear. Restoring secondhand furniture can sometimes be as easy as washing away years of wear and tear. Old chests of drawers, dressers or armoires might just need a good scrubbing to look as good as new. Before cleaning older furniture, remove the old wax with a stripper bought at a hardware store. Old coats of wax can prevent cleaners from reaching the surface of the furniture, so they must be removed for cleaning products to be effective. When cleaning old furniture, it's a good idea to solicit advice from antique dealers, who can help you avoid damaging the piece even further. A small amount of dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water can be used to gently clean old wax off of furniture. When applying such a mixture, be careful to avoid soaking the item or letting the mixture pool on its surface. Work slowly, gradually cleaning small areas one by one and wiping them down with a damp cloth to ensure wax and other residue has vanished completely. Once the item has been thoroughly cleaned and been given ample time to dry, you can apply a new coat of wax.
Older furniture can be both practical and chic, and there are many ways to bring such items back to life without breaking the bank.