6.19.2009

Furniture Renovation Part I: Choosing the Piece and Finding Inspiration

Welcome to my series on Furniture Renovation!  Let's just start by saying this: I am a total hack.  Everything I've learned about this subject has been by trial and error.  I have never taken a class, read a book or talked to a professional on this subject.  I just put on my husband's old cutoff shorts, cinch up my belt, and start messing around in the garage.  

However, that being said, I will happily share with you what I have learned along the way!  Which brings me to Part I of this series: choosing your piece of furniture and deciding what on earth to do with it.

We will take my most recent project as an example.  You remember?  Here it is again:

There are a few ways that I go about choosing a piece to refinish.  In this case, we just stumbled upon this dresser in an antique shop.  The owner wanted to get rid of it, and was willing to part with it for $100.  We had no idea where we would put it or when we would even have the time to work on it.  But the price was right.  So, that's one way to go.  If you find something and you think "This could be cool!" and the price is right, just grab it!

If you have a specific piece in mind, or area of the house you are trying to fill, my best advice is to hunt around on Craig's List or garage/estate sales.  I once found a simple but pretty dresser for $20 at an estate sale (more on that later).  Especially if it's a piece that needs some TLC, people are willing to practically give it to you just to avoid having to haul it to Goodwill on their own!  Another option, of course, is to re-do a piece that you already have.  Just be sure that you (or whoever you inherited the piece from) are brave enough to mess around with it!

OK, next.  Once you have the furniture in your garage and your husband is grumbling about how his only work space is being taken up by your crap, you are ready to get started!  This is the scary part.  And this is also why I would not recommend spending a ton of money on your first project.  You don't want to be so worried about the money you spent on some precious piece of furniture that you are terrified to touch it.

If you can, find yourself an inspiration photo (or ten).  I can't tell you how helpful this was to me.  As you're going along in the project, you will have to decide things like stain or paint colors, new knobs, handles, even maybe changing out a major piece like the top of a dresser (from wood to granite in my case, see this post for details).  I found this photo in the November 2008 issue of Country Home magazine, and I kept referring to it along the way.

As you can see, my dresser (below) is not an exact replica, but I copied the color and the knobs as much as I could.  It gave me courage and direction when I was standing in Lowe's or Hobby Lobby and hemming and hawing about all the little details.

So there you go: my first advice about furniture renovation is 1) find an inexpensive piece that you won't be afraid to play around with and 2) get some kind of inspiration photo to guide you.

Next week I will get into the actual process of manhandling your furniture.  Don't worry, it'll be fun!


17 comments:

Ms. Tee said...

Wow, you did a great job - it looks very much like the photo! Glad you had a great time with your family~ :)

Queenmothermamaw said...

I was a chicken. The last piece of furniture I did, I crackled it and decopouged it. (not sure of that spelling). It is easier to put something on than to take it off. I am sure you agree on that now. You did a great job on your piece though. Good idea for the tutorial.Blessings
QMM

Momma to Bug said...

Your dresser does look a lot like the inspiration photo! Nice job! We have been making over an old chest to put in the new baby's room and ended up spending just as much as it would cost for a new one. I don't know how that happened but it did! At least we have a story to tell. Hopefully I'll have it painted and finished by the end of the weekend so I can post.

-Desiree

The Graves' House said...

enjoying these posts - keep it up! you are building up my confidence.

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

So fun to read this - I'm excited for the rest of the series.

Nice and Easy Antiques said...

Somehow we found your blog and loved it! We'll be back...if you have a moment, stop by and check us out...we'd love to have you over!
Clara & Marcela
http://niceandeasyantiques.blogspot.com

Life with Kaishon said...

It looks SO great all finished. You did such a fantastic job! Way to go Carrie!

Tasha said...

I am so excited to be learning your tricks! I haven't started on anything yet, but really do hope to start soon! Now for me to go out there and find my first piece of inexpensive furniture that I can mess around with!

PamperingBeki said...

That looks so good!

Great job.

Jboo said...

Love your tips as always! Can't wait to read more! Glad you had a fun vacay. What a sweet little family you have!

Janet

Melanie said...

Jumping to your blog from my daughter, Lana's. I love your furniture refurnishing. I love to decorate but nothing fancy. Just a small country house in Tennessee.

abeachcottage said...

wow that looks great, I have a trunk I am posting about tomorrow and I'm gonna have a go on it, rather than doing my usual slap of white paint!

Sarah

p.s. nice pic of you all

Melissa said...

Looks like it's gonna be gorgeous! I have a similar shaped table that my granddad built out of a hollow core door. You've just given me some inspiration...

jewelryandgiftsbyrebecca said...

There are a few things I'd like to look for but for now I'll focus on the hope chest in my garage.

jennykate77 said...

Man, you do good work! I love the chest...it looks fantastic!

Totalrenovering said...

Wow really amazing! Great renovations. Keep up the good work.

Reina said...

I spent hours looking at every furniture store within an hour radius of my home. Finally out of desperation I decided to try to buy furniture online. I read some interior desgining magazine thrugh online and suddenly found ezbuyfurniture.com. Here,I quickly found my favorite furniture that was within my budget. It arrived quickly. The entire experience changed my opinion of buying furniture online. I completely recommend the process.