The Best Ways To Update Old Furniture For A Fresh New Look

Posted in Furniture Makeover
The BEST Ways To Update Old Furniture
The Best Ways To Update Old Furniture For A Fresh New Look

Old furniture can be a blessing and a curse. The old and well-seasoned look can be charming, but sometimes, an outdated piece needs an update. Today I’ll share how I update old furniture to give it new life.

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Furniture Makeovers – Customize Your Look

I get a lot of questions about the furniture I makeover, but the one question I get the most is, “How can I update old furniture to fit my current style?” We all have those hand-me-down pieces; sometimes, you can’t part with Grandma’s armoire. I hear you! But these pieces make you feel like you’re living with an old lady. LOL, It doesn’t have to be that way. Today, I’ll share some of my furniture transformations to give you some tips and tricks on how you can update that piece that you can’t part with. 

But before you start any furniture makeover, always prep, clean, scuff sand, and use a good primer/stain blocker on your wood furniture before painting. I have a tutorial on this subject here on the blog for your reference. CLICK HERE to learn more about this critical step. 

1. Add Furniture Wax

Furniture wax is excellent for adding age and depth to chalk painted furniture but can also be used on raw wood. Check out the natural wood makeovers below if you’re a lover of wood to see how to add character and beauty to your wood furniture. 

White Wax Furniture Makeover

White Wax On Wood Furniture

Black Wax Furniture Makeover

Black Wax Furniture

2. Painted Furniture – It’s a great option! 

How can you update old furniture to complement your style with paint? I say go BOLD with a vibrant color like YELLOW PAINT or stay neutral with the traditional white shades. No color is off-limits but choosing the right color can be daunting if you are unsure. Here’s what I do. 

Mustard Yellow Painted Furniture

How To Pick A Paint Color For Furniture To Compliment Your Room

I don’t think any color is off-limits with any style of furniture. A french provincial dresser can be stunningly painted in a bright, bold color. The same goes for an MCM piece. It’s your furniture; paint it in a color you like that will complement your space. If your room is relatively neutral, consider a statement piece. A general rule of thumb is the smaller the piece, the bolder the color can be.  

Consider a more neutral color if you already have bold colors in the room, such as pillows, throws, and home decor. Here’s a bright piece I did, and it’s still one of my faves to date. 

Why I’m Not Scared Of Bright Colors On A Statement Piece

Purple Painted Dresser

3. Stain It

Refinishing old pieces of wood furniture can be super rewarding. Maybe it’s your Grandmother’s antique, and you can’t bare the thought of painting it. 

Refinishing wood furniture can be a lot of work but super rewarding when you can preserve the piece and give it a modern update that you can treasure for years to come. Check out these makeovers I did. The table was a whitewash stain and paint combo.

Whitewash Table Top Makeover – An Heirloom Makeover

How To Whitewash Furniture

Refinishing Wood Furniture – What You Need To Know

How To Refinish Wood Furniture

4. Update Ugly Drawers On Furniture

This nightstand had seen better days. Well, only if you’re a fan of the 80s orange wood furniture.

Out of sheer necessity, I came up with the idea of how to update these nightstands until I could afford to purchase something better. It turns out that I LOVE these so much after the makeover that I’ll probably never buy new ones. I might change the color, but that’s another story.  

Learn how I covered up the recessed drawer fronts and created a modern new look on this nightstand below.

Ugly Drawer Front Makeover That’s Easier Than You Think

DIY Drawer Front Makeover

5. Add Farmhouse Charm With Milk Paint

My Grandma’s farmhouse style isn’t my style today, but the charm of chippy-painted wood furniture is still everything to me. I found this antique hutch on the Facebook marketplace. It was begging for a milk paint finish. Get the complete step-by-step tutorial on creating the perfect chippy milk paint finish here. This update is so fun to do on wood furniture.

How To Paint Furniture With A Chippy Milk Paint Finish

Milk Painted Furniture

6. Paint Fabric – Upholstery 

Want to know how to make a vintage sofa look modern? You can update it with paint! 

The fabric on most furniture can be painted with the right products and techniques. I had painted fabric cushions on chairs in the past, but a sofa was a tremendous job, and it turned out better than I would have ever imagined. Check out the links below for some inspiration and the DIY how-to. 

How To Paint A Fabric Sofa With Chalk Paint

Or try your hand at painting a smaller project like this chair. Painting Fabric On A Chair Is Easier Than You Think

How To Paint Fabric Furniture

7. Add New Hardware Knobs

Updating the hardware with new knobs, pulls, or even hairpin legs can be a significant update. You can give that old dresser a modern look with a little bit of elbow grease.

Don’t like the color of the hardware? You can also paint it for a quick, updated look. Here are a few ideas below.

How To Replace Hardware – The Perfect Placement or How To Fill Holes On Wood Furniture For New Hardware Placement

How To Change Hardware On A Dresser

8. Add A Stencil Design

Stenciling is a fun way to modernize and update old furniture by adding a specific pattern or look to match your decor. All you need is a smooth surface, a stencil, painter’s tape, and a stencil brush. But you’re not limited to a brush with the application. I’ve also used sponges with great success. I love experimenting. Check out the tutorials below for more inspiration. 

Bone Inlay Dresser (DIY Makeover)

How To Apply A Raised Stencil On Painted Furniture

How To Stencil Furniture In Two Easy Steps

Wood Furniture – MCM Makeover

Wood Furniture | Peek-a-boo Pattern

Easy DIY Chalk Paint Stenciling On Furniture

9. Spray Paint The Existing Hardware

I’ll admit that I don’t use a sprayer when refurbishing an old piece of furniture that needs updating. Garage sales and the curbside trash to treasure finds, in my honest opinion, are better left to the use of an old-fashioned paint brush. I don’t mind a few brush strokes being visible, but the hardware is a different story.

I prefer to spray paint hardware when they need updating. Here’s how I do it. 

How To Clean And Spray Paint Old Hardware For Furniture

How To Paint Hardware

10. Update With Chalk Paint

How do you update old furniture with paint? The answer is to use chalk paint. It’s relatively inexpensive and user-friendly. It’s a great way to add a fresh new look to that old dresser. 

And if you want to go artistic with your design, there are many techniques like dry brushing, distressing, blending, and so much more. I cover a lot of different techniques in my private subscription library, The Art Of Painting Furniture. CLICK HERE to learn how to join me.

You can even make DIY chalk paint if you’re looking for budget-friendly. Learn how below. 

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

11. Add Wallpaper To A Dresser Front

My Grandmother did this out of necessity. They used whatever they had, which wasn’t much. That never stopped her from decorating her home. It was common to use whatever paper was available to line the inside of dresser drawers and with that same paper (sometimes leftover wallpaper) to decoupage it onto furniture for a quick update. 

Today, we have lots of wallpaper to choose from and even textured paper. Here are a couple of my favorite makeovers using wallpaper. 

How To Add Textured Wallpaper On Furniture

How To Decoupage On Wood Furniture With Wallpaper

Decoupage On Chalk Paint

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Update An Antique

It doesn’t take much to transform antique furniture into a unique one-of-a-kind masterpiece that you can be proud of. 

I have heard so many say, “don’t paint that antique.” While I understand the true value of antiques, the antiques that I rescue have been well-worn and destined for the dump a lot of the time. Yes, I agree that not every piece should be painted, but cleaning them up and refinishing them will only help preserve them for another 100 years or so. 

I love transforming them with a beautiful, long-lasting finish. So, please do me a favor and rescue these antiques and give them a new purpose. Antique furniture is usually well-built and has stood the test of time. That’s why they’re still with us today. 

Here’s one where I used household bleach to lighten the wood. It’s one of my favorite rescues because it belonged to my Grandmother. Yes, It’s an antique!

Antique Armoire Makeover With Bleach

How To Bleach Wood Dresser

13. Decoupage With Paper

Decoupage, if you don’t know, is the process of decorating an object with paper, tissue, or other materials, glass, plastic, or wood. I remember doing this in art class as a child; it’s a great way to add interest to furniture. 

The technique involves gluing and imagination. Other than that, the sky is the limit.

I’ve used all kinds of paper, including wrapping paper that was leftover from Christmas. It’s seriously fun. Need some inspiration? Check out the projects I did below. 

How To Decoupage Furniture – Tutorial

How To Decoupage Furniture

You might also like Rice Paper On Wood Furniture – Tutorial or Easy How-To Tutorial. I think you’ll like both of these too.

Wow, I know that’s a lot about how to update old furniture but I didn’t want to skip something that may help you in your furniture refurbishing endeavors.

Thanks for joining me today and I’d love to hear about some of the ways you have updated old dressers and curbside finds. Let me know in the comments or just say hi so that I know you stopped by.  

Until the next project… xo, Do



  1. You are the master at updating old furniture Do! I love them all but the waxed washstand near the top of the post is gorgeous! Pinned 🥰

  2. I love your ideas and pictures of finished projects! I inherited a French provincial round table and large oval mirror that I would really like to update- is it possible to hire your services? I live in atlanta, GA

    1. Hi Ellie,
      I no longer take on custom orders and I live in Texas. Reach out to Pam Haskins. You can find her on Facebook under 44 Marketplace. She lives in that area. She does beautiful work. Best of luck to you. 🙂 xo

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