7 Easy Furniture Facelifts | Midwest Living

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7 Easy Furniture Facelifts

Our clever remakes will inspire you to give a piece of ho-hum furniture a fresh face using paint, fabric, stencils and easy embellishments.
  • Nailhead glamour

    Luxe up a dresser, headboard or any wood furnishing that needs a touch of flash by adding jewellike nailheads. Our focal-point buffet started as a bargain chinoiserie with flat door fronts -- perfect for applying ornamentation.

    Pick a base color that shows off the design, like a semigloss white. Instead of drilling and hammering nailheads, which can be a pain, find a faux alternative. Glue on silver-spray-painted round wood plugs or three-dimensional silver nailhead stickers available at some scrapbooking stores.

    "You can be very tame with the design and just outline the edges, or have fun and create a diamond pattern or stripes, or do one big monogram," suggests Chicago interior designer Michelle Williams. Click below for the pattern we used.

    Buffet resources Hardware: Euro-Contemporary Pull, No. P2162-SN; Hickory Hardware. Paint: Snowbound, No. 7004 in Semigloss; Sherwin-Williams.
    Wallpaper resources Tranquil in Black by Linda Barker, No. 17227; Graham and Brown.

    Download nailhead pattern

    Hickory Hardware


    Graham and Brown

  • Painted florals

    Bold flowers turn solid-color upholstered furniture (or slipcovers) into conversation starters, especially when you're the artist. We used stencils and acrylic paint mixed with textile medium to update our bergere chair.

    For best results: Decide flower placement first, balance sizes and colors, and practice on scrap fabric. Attach stencils, one at a time, with stencil spray adhesive. Paint from the outside of the stencil in with a small foam roller to achieve a thin layer. Use a stencil brush for details. Paint the frame a coordinating color.

    Chair resources Paint: (On frame) Nomadic Desert, No. 6107 in Gloss; Sherwin-Williams. (Flowers) Baby Chick, No. 2023-20; Starry Night Blue, No. 2067-20; Raspberry Glaze, No. 2078-20; Benjamin Moore. Stencils: Sunflower, No. DM12-S; Daisy, No. DM14-S; The Stencil Library.


    Benjamin Moore

    The Stencil Library

  • Glossy appliques

    Wood appliques or medallions add easy style to a smooth-front former nightstand.

    Make traditional motifs look fresh with glossy paint in vibrant color combinations, such as yellow and gray. We snagged the scrollwork wood pieces at a home improvement store for about $5 each. Attach with small nails or glue; touch up with paint. New knobs finish this chic transformation.

    Side table resources Appliques: (Large) EverTrue Raw Whitewood Ornament, No. 33806; (Small) EverTrue Raw Whitewood Ornament, No. 34163; Lowe's. Knobs: Paisley Knob, No. 136374; Lowe's. Paint: (On table) Sun Porch, No. 2023-30 in Gloss; Benjamin Moore. (On appliques) Software, No. 7074; Sherwin-Williams.


    Benjamin Moore


  • Stenciled inlay effect

    New furniture with wood or metallic inlays can be pricey. Create an inexpensive inlay effect on a tabletop or cabinet door front with a stencil and high-gloss or metallic paint.

    The bold basket weave on this secondhand table looks sophisticated in basic black and white. Or try sunbursts, repeated triangles, vines, florals or damasks in subdued color combos. Protect with a polyurethane finish or a glass top.

    Dining table resources Paint: (Base color) Inkwell, No. 6992 in Gloss; (Stencil color) Snowbound, No. 7004 in Gloss; Sherwin-Williams. Stencil: Camel Bone Weave Small, No. 3000S; Royal Design Studio.


    Royal Design Studio

  • Two-tone finish

    One paint color refreshes any furniture piece, but two colors offer twice the style for little extra cost. We coated a bowfront dresser's frame with a glossy midnight blue finish, and painted the drawers a contrasting semigloss white.

    "We have been designing a lot of two-tone pieces of furniture lately," says Matt Harris, an Indianapolis designer. He likes to pair a basic painted frame with exotic wood on the doors or drawer fronts. To achieve that two-tone look, apply our faux wood-grain treatment (next slide) to just the drawers.

    Dresser resources Paint: (Frame) Twilight Blue, No. 2067-30 in Gloss; Benjamin Moore. (Drawers) Snowbound, No. 7004 in Semigloss; Sherwin-Williams.

    Benjamin Moore


  • Exaggerated wood grain

    Mimic an emphasized wood grain, such as our faux limed-wood finish, with an easy paint technique.

    Start with a white base coat. When dry, add black in sections with a painting sponge. Drag a wood-graining tool ($3-$8) along the fresh paint to expose the white underneath.

    Accent table resources Paint: (Base) Snowbound, No. 7004 in Semigloss; (Top) Tricorn Black, No. 6258 in Gloss; Sherwin-Williams.


  • Metallic scrollwork top

    Scrolled vine or flower stencils add romance to a mirror-topped side table.

    Remove the mirror top (or protect with painter's tape). Paint the frame a metallic silver finish or high-gloss gray for a silvery effect. Determine stencil placement on the mirror, and temporarily secure with stencil spray adhesive. Apply silver enamel paint with a stencil brush, stippling gently until the design is covered. To extend the scrollwork, reposition the stencil so that it connects to the existing design. Let the paint cure for 21 days, or bake according to instructions on enamel paint container.

    Table resources Paint: (On frame) Passive, No. 7064 in Gloss; Sherwin-Williams. (On mirror top) FolkArt Enamel Paint 2oz-Metallic Silver; available at crafts stores. Stencil: No. DE255; The Stencil Library.


    The Stencil Library

  • Perfect makeover candidates

    These style-starved, yet good-condition furnishings from consignment shops, discount stores and our own homes were the perfect makeover candidates. Before starting these projects, sand and prime furniture according to paint manufacturer's instructions.

    Continue to next slide for more Midwest Living® home makeover ideas.

    (A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® January/February 2010.)

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