Simple Refinishing Tips for Old and Outdated Furniture

Refinishing furniture is easier than it was ten or twenty years ago. Did you know you can recolor leather, vinyl and fabric quite easily? There are special products on the market now that let you paint fabric couches, spray on leather color and even waterproof it for patio use. I will introduce you to some of these technique and special tools and you can see if they would work for some of the old pieces lying around your house. 


 These are outdated in today’s computerized age, but they’re still used by painters for doing measurements of complex geometric patterns.  Projecting a floral pattern onto a dresser can allow you to paint within the lines and create a beautiful custom piece. The image will wrap around curves and nooks and crannys, taking away the guesswork on painting the pattern.

Leather and Vinyl Spraypaint

You can now recolor leather and vinyl easily using readily available spray products, like Meltonian Nu-Life color sprays,  which cost around $10 a can. Refinishing has never been easier. The finish stays, too. Customers who used the paint for its original use as a shoe re-finish claim it lasts for years without any wear.  You’ll want to take a look at a few tutorials on this before you start, to get some ideas. I would start with Amy’s  stenciled barstool examples which are beautiful over at her blog, Amy’s Casablanca:
Stencils are a great way to spice up an old piece of furniture, or add the finishing touch to a painted furniture project.  Cutting Edge stencils at  has some fabulous designs that are easy to use.
Fabric Medium – Repaint your Couch!
Available at any fabric and craft store, this product is added to your favorite paint color in a can (yes, house paint) and then you can apply it to upholstery. Recolor any sofa. Do you have a shabby looking old Victorian settee but can’t afford new upholstery? Paint it! This may sound outrageous but professional decorators do this all the time for an inexpensive accent. The fabric will take on a “crisp” vinyl feel, so if you’re looking for a soft finish, this may not be for you.  
Most tutorials available online recommend satin finish paint for the base.  I suggest looking at the tutorial at the blog Fabric Bliss:

Always sand your surface lightly with a rough sandpaper to make sure paint and primer adheres properly. It’s a simple process that will save you hours of frustration . You don’t need a fancy sandblaster either – a manual hand sander will work just fine. Remember to sand WITH the grain.
If you have time and patience and are good at deconstructing patterns, DIY reupholstery is do-able, but it certainly isn’t easy. There is one exception and that is dining room chairs. They are usually just a board with foam on one side and fabric that staples underneath. They’re easy to recover. The most complicated part is if they have tufted seats (buttons) You’ll have to thread it through with an upholster’s needle, which can be a little tricky. (doll needles will work too) I asked the experts at Jo-Ann what they recommended for good durable upholstery that would last a while and they said regular 100% cotton would do the job just fine, at about $7.99 a yard. 
Colored sheets you are not using anymore will do just fine as well.  If you have a little extra cash, they have a beautiful selection of upholstery fabrics for $15-50 per yard. You’ll need about a yard per chair on average.  A new dining chair costs about $120 on average, so even the most expensive fabrics can seem like a deal in comparison to buying new. If your dining chair has metal or wood elements, remember you can paint these too to coordinate with your new fabric. Just remember to make sure your paint is designed for the finish you’re applying it to. 

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