How to Redesign Old Furniture


A fun way to spruce up your home is to refinish old furniture. I have done this with several pieces of furniture that I owned previously or simply found on the side of the road! There are several options to choose from for refinishing wood furniture.

Wood Stain

First, you can refinish your wood furniture with wood stain. A wide variety of stain colors can be found at any hardware store for a very low price.

I recommend doing this outside on a nice day or in your garage, because of the fumes.

Before applying the stain, strip off the old stain and remove any scratches! You will need a stain and paint stripper, which can be found at a hardware store, as well as a sponge or paint brush, and some sand paper. Clean the furniture piece off before applying the stripper. Once clean, pour the stripper liberally over your furniture and spread with the sponge or paint brush. I recommend wearing a sanding respirator to avoid inhaling the fumes from the stripper. For old furniture, the stripper should only take a few minutes to work. You will be able to see the old finish lifting off. To speed this process up you can begin to sand the areas that are starting to come off. For tougher spots, apply more stripper and let sit for up to 45 minutes. After all the old stain has been removed, thoroughly clean the furniture. You don’t want any dust particles stuck under your new stain!

Before opening the container of wood stain, shake it! This is very important! I have used stain without proper mixing and it ended up looking very uneven. After thorough shaking, apply the new stain with a paint brush or old rag. Let it dry for a couple of hours before moving your furniture back inside.

Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a fun new way to redo furniture. I absolutely love this method because it does not require all the preparation as refinishing with wood stain and it has a nice shabby chic look. The chalk paint can be found at a retailer that carries Annie Sloan Chalk Pain. You can find a retailer by visiting the website,

Applying chalk paint is easy, just clean your furniture and sand off any upraised or rough areas first, then with a paint brush apply the chalk paint. You do not have to remove any old paint or stain before applying chalk paint! If you want a more distressed look, lightly sand any areas to remove the paint.

In addition to the paint, you will also need wax to coat the furniture with after the paint has dried. This protects the paint from being scratched. The wax can be purchased at the same time as your chalk paint. Every chalk paint retailer should also carry the wax.

Chalk paint is a fun and easy way to redo furniture, but it is a little more expensive than using wood stain or regular paint. Each can of chalk paint costs $40 and the wax is an additional $20.

Homemade Chalk Paint

If you don’t like the colors of chalk paint provided by Annie Sloan or you if you want to save some money, you can make your own chalk paint. Simply pick out the color you want from your local department store. You will only need a small container.

To make the paint chalky, mix it with calcium carbonate or plaster of paris. Calcium carbonate can be found at health food stores or online and plaster of paris can be found at a department store. The more calcium carbonate or plaster of paris you mix in your paint, the chalkier it will be. This paint mixture can be reused several times, just by adding a little warm water.

Again, you do not have to strip the old paint or finish off the wood before using homemade chalk paint. It is your choice of whether or not to finish the paint off with some wax. Wax coating can be found at the hardware store as well. I recommend Brixwax.


Painting furniture is another option. However, it is more time consuming then the other options because generally several coats of paint will have to be applied AND old paint and stain has to be stripped off first. I used this method for an old cabinet that I converted into a changing table. I had to apply the paint four times!

I also recommend changing out old knobs when redoing dressers or cabinets. This, in addition to refinishing, gives the piece a whole new look! Cute and fun knobs can be found online or at hardware or specialty home stores.