Repurpose Without Paint

Repurposing Your Furniture Skip The Paintbrush Makeover

We all have walked into those stores named Vintage This or Vintage That. Along with some nice antiques and unique accessories, you always find the “upcycled,” “reclaimed,” or “re- loved” dresser … which has simply been cleaned up with a new coat of yellow paint.

While I agree there is a time and place for updating by painting, it is important for you, as an interior designer, to know there are more repurposing options – many with more creative, long-lasting, and meaningful results – than a typical paintbrush makeover.

Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to save, reuse, or remake new several pieces of furniture. From a complete makeover to applying a new finish and fixtures, they all turned out to be very special for the owners. Here are three example:


These end tables were originally purchased by my client’s mother when she decorated her first house. The owner had literally grown up and lived with these pieces her whole life. They were one of her fondest memories of her now late mom. Over the years, the tops saw damage from water and everyday use. After completely sanding off the old veneer and patching the dings, I applied a new four-way book match of figured mahogany. The owner was estactic to have her old tables back – and even better than new.


Ribon Mahogany Repair start











End Tables 1









2. After I worked with an interior designer to make her client a custom, multilevel bed with stairs, drawers, and other fun features tailored to a teenage girl, the existing chest of drawers no longer fit the room’s décor. The designer knew she couldn’t go to a furniture store and purchase an off-the- shelf dresser that would match the bed’s blue-and-silver color block inlays. In addition, the dresser now had a new function: It needed to comfortably store clothes as well as serve as a stand for the TV and cable box.

So, the designer asked me to transform the original chest of drawers. After removing the green paint, I cut off the top two drawers to allow room for the TV and cable box. Then, I applied a veneer patterned and styled to match the new bed, and added new feet and funky drawer pulls.

The result was a custom piece that coordinated perfectly with the bed and cost much less than buying or making a new dresser.


Old Dresser










Dresser 4










The coordinating bed unit.









3. Repurposing isn’t limited to furniture. Accessories, especially mirrors, are ideal candidates for a paint-free

makeover. This mirror fit perfectly in a client’s house for 15 years … until the family relocated and decided to introduce a fresh décor to their new house – on a budget.

Rather than buy a new mirror, we worked together to design a completely new look for the frame. We were inspired by the bright-colored bedding she had selected for the guest bedroom and a few magazine photos of other mirrors. From there, I drew up a sketch and started the transformation.

I simply removed the mirror from the frame, sanded off the existing paint, and applied a new pattern made from dyed wood. The result was a custom-yet-economical mirror that coordinated perfectly with her guestroom.

Mirror Redo 1Colorful Mirror