DIY Furniture from This to This

A step by step guide to DIY furniture from this to this.  Reduce, reuse and repurpose is a great motto for those who love to create something beautiful with a tired and worn piece of furniture.

DIYing a piece of furniture isn’t as hard as you’d think.  Follow the steps to create something amazing.

Step 1 Asses your Furniture

Check out the current condition of your furniture.  Determine if it’s suitable for the transformation you have in mind.  Look at the structure, integrity, material quality and if it’s the size you need for your space. 

    furniture update   makeover

If you have a space that needs something that you don’t have check out what is available at the 2nd hand stores.  I have found some great pieces that were in really good shape and just needed some love.  

diy furniture

These two nightstand were the perfect size and style for our guest bedrooms.  They are wood, in rough shape and needing a little love.  I liked the color of single drawer nightstand but wanted something different.  They were great finds, for under $50 I found two amazing pieces.  

I decided I wanted a matching set so I went looking a couple weeks after I found these two that I was using in two different rooms.  By happenstance I found a matching nightstand to the two drawer on.  Giving me a matching set.  

    furniture makeover  nightstand makeover

Step 2 Plan your Design

Decide on your end design.  The shape and style of the piece will drive that decision somewhat.  It’s really hard to make a traditional piece into a modern piece.  But updating a modern style into a more on trend modern piece is easier.  

You can take away or add to the piece but you can’t completely remake the shape.  It would be easier to build from scratch in some situations.

You can sketch out the changes you want to make, get inspiration from magazines, blogs or social.  Sometimes just starting will dictate the direction you go.  Like this make under I did for our office desk and hutch.  I had a vision but there were a lot of unanswered questions that I could only figure out as I went.  

I started by taking off the pieces I knew I didn’t want, stepped back and make the next decision. 

Check out the office furniture make under here.  

     furniture make under  office furniture update

Step 3 Gather What your Need for the Project

Depending what you are planning to do you will need to be specific in the tools and materials you need.  Common items include sandpaper, paint or stain, brushes, a saw, screws, nails a drill and the updated hardware.  

Nothing frustrates me more than being in the middle of a project and not having something on hand.  It’s painful to stop and run to the store.  Another pain point is buying something then finding out you already have it on hand.  Wasting time and money.  

Because I was tired of this happening I created a FREE digital download.  A DIY project planner.  It only takes a few minutes to fill out but will save you time and money.  Grad the FREE download.  I also have a guide with clickable links to get the supplies you need to paint your room.  A lot of the list would work for furniture makeovers.  Grad the FREE Paint your Room download.    

Step 4 Clean and Disassemble if Needed

If your furniture piece needs modification or you want to repurpose certain parts, carefully disassemble what you need.  If you’re completely taking it apart be sure to take pictures and notes to ensure proper reassembly later.

When I did the office furniture makeover I took a lot of pieces off.  Some of those were used to create the free standing desk.  Which was so nice because the wood matched and the profile of the pieces used matched what we were working with.  

If you’ve found a second hand piece at a Goodwill type store it will need a thorough cleaning.  Sometimes they aren’t terrible but usually there are months or years of grunge you need to get off.  TSP cuts through the grunge, grease and sticky that often comes with older pieces of furniture.  

Step 5 Prepare the Surface

The first step to preparing the surface is cleaning.  If you’re planning to paint the piece needs a light sanding to rough up the surface before painting.  If the plan is to stain the piece you will need to sand down to the beautiful raw wood.

surface perparation project update

This takes more time but the end results will be worth the additional work.  When I am sanding to the raw wood I always use my mouse sander.  It is a dream and I love the process as the beautiful new wood appears. The mouse sander does a beautiful job and fits perfectly in my hand.  I love to use a wire brush to go over the wood and get the fine dust out of the wood.

Step 6 Make Structural Changes

Not all pieces require structural changes.  Most of the ones I’ve done have be creating something pretty from what was there.  One of the nightstands and dresser sets we did was needing something more.  I found round feet that added to the overall look.  Then we added texture by routering the top edge of the dresser and nightstands.

furniture update  nightstand update

After the pieces are thoroughly sanded be sure to clean the pieces.  Removing the saw dust is key to a beautiful finish.  I like to use a wire brush to get in the fine grooves of the wood, lifting out any hidden saw dust.  Then blowing of with the air blower and wiping with a damp cloth.

When the office furniture was made over it was mostly taking away.  There were a few select things we changed to the structure before we were ready to move on to the fun, paint and stain.

furniture update

Step 7 Apply a New Finish

The new finish is what gives the piece the new look you are after.  There have been pieces that were completely painted.  Others that were a combination of paint and stain.  Then a piece were we kept the painted top and stained the body. 

This is were you get to be creative.  Figuring out the style you are after is key to the new finish you are after.  

     furniture makeover  furniture makeover

Step 8 Adding the Decorative Elements

One of the easiest ways to update a piece of furniture is adding new hardware.  On a rare occasion you’ll want to use what it comes with but usually adding something new breathes new life into the piece.

There are so many options, find hardware that matches the style you have created.

Check out the hardware I’ve used on our furniture updates here, here and here.


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I am passionate about cultivating home. Whether you like DIY, design, decor or organization I want to help you cultivate the best home for you. One space and step at a time. Small simple to maintain changes with big results.