Welcoming, cozy homes tend to have a gathered look—their style is the result of favorite pieces, old and new, blended together over the years. Create that unique appeal by renewing old furnishings like these with paint, fabric and a little imagination.

Flea market reading nook

Natural fibers in the sisal rug and a square tobacco basket on the wood-textured wall combine with creamy neutrals to create an earthy and soothing look in this sitting area.

Chair before makeover

This wonderful old armchair used to sit on my grandparents’ enclosed porch when I was a kid.

Grandpa was expert at refinishing old wood and gave this piece a new finish before he handed it off to me. When my husband and I bought an Arts & Crafts foursquare we reupholstered the chair in one of Liberty of London’s William Morris prints for our living room. But after many years of kids and company the fabric and finish were showing the effects.

Reupholstered and painted chair

A new paint finish and heavy-duty feed-sack cloth upholstery reinvigorated the chair and gave it a whole new look. Here’s what it took.

What You’ll Need

  • Upholstered chair
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Primer
  • Paint and paintbrush
  • Sandpaper, fine grit (optional)
  • 2 vintage feed sacks
  • Quilt batting
  •  Scissors and pinking shears
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Nailhead trim, hammer (optional)

Graphic placement on seat and back

Remove old upholstery fabric (needle-nose pliers will help remove stubborn staples) and unscrew arms from chair back. Prime the frame and let dry. Paint the chair frame with two coats of warm white paint and let dry between coats. Distress the finish with sandpaper if desired.

Cut through the length of the feed sacks at the back and lay the sacks face up on seat and back to determine best placement of graphics. Trim excess from the sacks and save extra to apply to the back of the chair.

Renew batting on chair seat

Add new batting to chair seat and back as necessary. Stretch fabric over the chair back and around to the other side of the frame and attach at top, bottom and side with staples. Fold fabric under and around chair frame and staple underneath, continuing to pull taut on fabric.

Tuck and staple chair corners

For the corners, pull in and secure side first, then fold in excess fabric before pulling and securing fabric over the top of the chair (refer to image #3 on previous page). Repeat for the seat, stretching and securing the fabric underneath the seat frame.

Replace the screws in the back for the two chair arms and tighten. Cut a piece of fabric the size and shape of the back of the chair. Fold the edges under and staple in place at corners. Outline with nailhead trim, if desired (the kind that comes in rolls makes this a quick and easy step), following manufacturer’s instructions.

chair and table before

I loved the simplicity of this vintage side table (one of a pair) but the aqua finish just didn’t do justice to the subtle design elements.

Painted table detail

A couldn’t-be-easier paint job followed by a light antiquing brings attention to the details.

What You’ll Need

  • Table
  • Sandpaper, fine and medium grit
  • Tack cloth
  • X-I-M spray-on primer: 400 White
  • Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Semi- Gloss spray-on paint: Ivory Bisque
  • Minwax Gel Stain: Early American
  • Spray-on finish sealer

Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand all surfaces of the table and wipe thoroughly with the tack cloth.

Spray one coat of X-I-M primer on the table. Let dry.

Spray on one or two coats of Ivory Bisque. Let dry. Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand all areas where distressed look is desired. Wipe thoroughly with the tack cloth.

Antique by selectively and sparingly applying Early American gel stain, wiping off excess on any raised areas. Let dry. Spray on one or two coats of finish sealer, letting dry between coats.

Wrapped mason jar

Pop a jewel-tone bouquet of fresh flowers in a burlap and twine wrapped Mason jar.

What You’ll Need

  • Burlap
  • Mason jar
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Vintage key
  • Hot glue, glue sticks

Measure the circumference of the jar and add an inch. Measure the height of the straight side and double. Cut a piece of burlap to the measurements and fold in half. Wrap around the jar, fold the end, and glue in place. Starting at that fold, wrap twine around the burlap, starting an inch down from the top fold.

Wrap 3 times, place the key in front and twist twine once around the key. Continue wrapping around jar and key 4-5 times, then twist around the key again.

Continue wrapping 5-6 more times. Hot glue the end of the twine at the back fold.

Chicken feeder pendant light

Narvas is a whiz at making almost anything into a light fixture. Here, an inexpensive light kit turns a vintage chicken feeder into a pendant lamp that lends an unexpected industrial touch to the reading nook. Drilling a hole through the bottom of the feeder and following the kit instructions is all it took.


© Caruth Studio

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