Upcycle old furniture

Old furniture deserves a second chance... Even veneer or laminate furniture can be given a modern revamp to become beautiful and practical pieces for a home.



Whether it's hand-me-downs, secondhand finds, or items sourced at online auction sales, you can pick up some wonderful pieces of furniture at a bargain price. And, while these pieces might not look like much to start with, you can use various methods to affordably give old furniture a modern update.


Medium-weight fabric

Alcolin wood glue

Prominent Select Sheen, white

Paintbrush and foam paint roller

Orbital sander plus 80-, 120-, 180- or 240-grit sanding pads


To replace the missing seat use what is available or affordable. In this case a piece of 16mm chipboard is cut to fit the space and then wrapped with a double layer of medium-weight batting before being covered with fabric. Use a staple gun or Bosch Tacker to fold under and secure the fabric to the base of the new seat. You can buy the Bosch Tacker or a heavy-duty staple gun at your local Builders Warehouse.

You can easily lighten up dark furniture  to suit a modern colour scheme by using paint. The cabinet was refinished with a sheen white paint (see Prominent Paints Select Sheen), fabric added to the drawer fronts and the addition of sleek metal handles created a new piece. The fabric selected for the drawer fronts matches that used to upholster the stool seat.

After removing the hardware, use wood filler or Alcolin QuikWood to fill holes or cracks, or repair badly chipped areas. Prepare the cabinet by using and orbital sander and 80- and then 120-grit sanding pads to remove old varnish or sealer. Finish off with 180- or 240-grit sanding pads for a smooth finish. 

When using water-based acrylic paint on wood it is essential to apply a wood primer. Once this coat is dry you can sand with 180- or 240-grit sanding pads to provide a smooth surface for painting. Apply the paint using a brush for detailed areas and small roller for flat surfaces.

Measure the drawer fronts to determine the size of the fabric. Secure the fabric to the drawer fronts with PVA adhesive, making sure the pattern is centred. Use the palm of your hand to rub over the fabric from the centre outwards to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped under the fabric. Wipe away any glue that oozes out before it has chance to dry.

Finish off with new handles. Mark the position of the holes on the fabric and cut an X with a craft knife. Drill the holes through the fabric and wood on a low speed to secure the screws.

GOOD TO KNOW: Protect the fabric-covered drawer fronts with 2 to 3 coats of Prominent Paints clear acrylic sealer.