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If you're redecorating and looking for furniture to use, it might be a good idea to touch up some older pieces instead of buying new. The decision to restore or repurpose old furniture can save you money because you don't have to invest in a whole new sofa or dining set.

Reusing older furniture also cuts down on waste and prevents those items from ending up in a landfill. Plus, vintage furniture can add charm and character to your decor; it gives your home a personalized touch that you can't replicate with something that just came out of a box.

Choosing What to Repurpose

You may choose to restore:

  • Older items you have around your house or in storage
  • Furniture you've bought at thrift stores or garage sales
  • Pieces you've found through Freecycle or a neighborhood email list

Good candidates for restoration are pieces that are structurally sound, without severe water damage, cracks, or laminate that's cracked or peeling. However, if part of a piece is in good condition, you can still use it. If a chair has missing or damaged legs but an intact seat and back, you may be able to break the item down into separate components and use the intact parts for a new purpose.

Sand and Paint

Paint that's chipped, faded, or simply not the best color is a common complaint about old furniture. Fortunately, it's easy to fix by sanding and painting. Scrape off the old paint, and go over the wood surface with sandpaper. Then, wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove dust and dirt. Apply primer with a foam roller, and let it dry. Next, you're ready to apply paint with a brush or roller. You may need to add several coats before it looks right, so take your time. Apply a protective finish at the end.


Cushioning and fabric often get stained or worn out over time and need to be replaced. This is the step of the restoration process where costs can add up, so look for affordable materials on eBay, Etsy, or a fabric store's clearance table. You can buy a foam cushion for about $7 from Walmart or a roll of foam starting at $25 from The Home Depot, which may be cheaper than other types of padding. Some DIYers like to layer new fabric directly over the original fabric, and that can cut down on the amount of work. Otherwise, you'll want to first use a screwdriver to undo the staples of the original fabric, take off the original fabric, lay the new fabric in position, and then staple it in place.

Old Furniture, New Purpose

Sometimes a piece is too damaged to be used or you don't need it for its original use. In those cases, feel free to repurpose old furniture and give it a new function. For example, you could add a new pillow on top of a bench and use it as a pet bed. Removing the lid from an old chest could transform it into a planter for flowers. A stepladder could become an end table, with the steps serving as shelves. And a chair back can be detached from its base, hung on the wall, and used to hang hats or keys. Use your creativity to find new uses for your items!

Many older pieces of furniture were lovingly crafted and preserved over the years. Restoring or repurposing these pieces gives them a second chance and adds a touch of history to your home.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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