Aug 28, 2012

Furniture makeover - Sanding and Preparations


Step 1: First, have a good look of the item you are planning to work on - review the damages, general condition, if there is any sign of wood worms (do you see little holes in the wood somewhere), current layers of paint. Review it from all angles.  Think over is it necessary to dissemble the piece, and what parts (eg. cabinet doors, legs, drawers, shelfs) and are you going to assemble these parts again or not. 

Step 2: Before dissembling,  take photos, make notes - I usually take photos, to remind me on the 'before' look and to help me when assembling - it is amazing how  easy is to be confused with things looking very simple at the first place. It is also useful to mark pieces, eg. drawers, to be put on the same place as before, as the size could little, but significantly, vary.

Step 3: Check also locks, keys, handles, rosettes - are they functioning, do you need them or want to replace them. Eg. it is easier to replace  lock before you start painting.

Step 4: If you noticed wood worms presence, you need to treat the piece - I usually use some of the chemical insecticides - follow the supplier's  instructions.

Step 5: One of the first things to do is to clean the piece with soap water to get rid of the stains, fat, dirt ... Then, think about old paint layers - do you need just to make some sanding or completely remove them. It depends also on your idea how to refurbish this piece of furniture. But, whatever you decide, some sanding is difficult to avoid.

Step 6: Sanding, sanding, sanding; and repairing small damages using filler.

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Aug 23, 2012

Furniture makeover - How to start 2

Your first piece candidate for makeover

Space make over and furniture refurbishing is  my favourite hoby. And it is not such demanding as it could look like on the first site. But hot to start? Every beginning is rather difficult and could be confusing. But don't give up even before you actually start! It is always necessary to gain experience. So, start with something rather simple and small - wooden box, small shelf, simple chair, picture frame, ... If you are not happy with the result, you can always repaint it. I think everybody has such experience. When you see astonished refurbished pieces, remember that people who did it also had some failures experimenting with new techniques.
If you decided to work on a larger piece or having dilemma to take some item on a flee market or garage sale, look first at the basic piece skeleton - if it is in  good condition. Than think over do you have enough experience, tools and available help/assistance to makeover the piece. It is sometimes better to take one step at the time.

When I started to work on  furniture, I made a whole plan for that piece, bought a paint and other material before I actually begin to work. But than I realized that it is better to be patient and first do the surface preparations - meaning cleaning,  dismantling,  sanding,   repairing damages. Only after this initial effort I can see and feel  the wood - could I use stain or is the paint better, is it better to replace some parts or elements or to use it in some other way, how to decorate. And rather often I completely change the initial idea. Admit, sometimes just because sanding over all current layers is too challenging, sometimes I got a quite a new idea. This is how it works for me, everybody has to find its own way.

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Aug 22, 2012

Furniture makeover - How to start 3

About paint

The most frequent materials for painting the wood include paint, woodstains, varnishes, waxes (and other products related to particular techniques).

But, before you start painting, it is usually necessary to prepare wood surface, depending on the technique to be used. 


Gesso is a water based, heavily-pigmented white primer used as a sealer on porous surfaces such as wood. It is excellent base for techniques that require smooth background. It is applied with a flat brush or roller. Once it has dried it is sanded with fine sandpaper. Usually, at least one more coat of gesso is applied (each one has to be sanded down).
Remeber that it is opaque, so it is not used if you plan to enhance the grain of the wood.


Sealer prepares a wood surface by sealing it; it prevents wood to absorb too much paint.  It is transparent allowing the grain of the wood to show through.


Woodstains are liquid pigments that dye wood  - they are transparent, allowing wood grain to show through. They can be water based, oil based or alcohol based. The less porous wood require alcohol-based tints, for other any stain will do.


Now days a wide range of  paints is available in stores. Basic types for crafters are acrylic (water based) and oil-based. My preferable choice are acrylic paints as they  are very easy to use, odorless, dry quick, and, what is the most important for me, tools and brushes could be very easy cleaned under running water. Brushes used with oil-based paints must be cleaned with mineral spirit and this is issue for me - I've never succeeded to completely clean brushes used with oil paints. I would certainly recommend acrylic paints, particularly for the beginners.


Varnish is a transparent paint that dries to a hard, shiny surface which protects wood. Varnishes can be classified according to their finish: Glossy - high sheen effect; satin - the most versatile (medium sheen); matt finish - no sheen,  for more rustic look. Varnishes can be oil-based, water-based (acrylic), polyurethanr, naturals. As for paints, I recommend acrylic varnishes.

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Aug 21, 2012

Furniture makevover - How to start 1

My holidays are over, I have to go  back to work, and to my 'other' work too - I am taking my hobbies very seriously. Of all things I am working on, furniture makeover is my favorite. I started this accidentally, but fell in love realizing the creativity potential. Decorating wood is one of the best ways to forget the stress of everyday life.

This furniture on the photos I refurbished during past couple of years turning ugly and rather damaged pieces into a furniture I love.

But how to start if you are a beginner?

First of all, you need some tools and material, most of them probably you already have, the other  could be obtained from a do-it-yourself or hobby  store or local hardware store.

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Aug 4, 2012

Couch makeover

From time to time I am tempted to make some big changes at home. It is always dilemma - refurbish or buy new. So far, after rethinking (and spending hours in furniture store) I've decided  to refurbish old piece I already have and make something just for my liking.



This leather couch is very comfortable, could be used as guest sleeping bed, but the leather was worn off. Just to mention, we have dog and cat and they just love to jump and sleep on it. 

As the back of the couch was in good condition,  I decided to   to make upholstery I could wash in the washing machine. The task wasn't too demanding - I just made covers for the three seat cushions. Two zippers were solution to enable placing covers very easy. And for the pattern, only the side shape was to be copied from the cushion.


Finally, I made three additional decorative pillows - animals patterns are symbolizing in some way members of my family. Now, I have 'new'  and original piece of furniture.
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