So you’re excited to glam up your new place after moving in, but you realized something…
“I’m too broke for new furniture” or “I could afford new furniture, but I just don’t want to spend that much,” you say.
Don’t fret because I have a solution for you!
Yes, you can own beautiful furniture without spending a fortune!
And when I say “without spending a fortune” I really mean spending close to nothing considering the amount of stuff you can get.
But before I get into the details, you have to be willing to do a little bit of work. I promise, however (to most of you) the amount of money you save will be worth it!
For those of you who don’t know me, I enjoy refurbishing furniture as a hobby [for extra income].
You don’t have to do it to earn more, but you can certainly do it to save a ton more and add value to your space!
I personally find that this is one of the greatest hacks to make your home look expensive (and personalized) without breaking the bank!
If you scroll down, closer to the bottom, you’ll see one of my before and after projects.
To be very honest, when I first started no more than a year ago, everything seemed so intimidating. Even until now, I’m still learning. So, if I can do it, you can too (seriously)!
With that said, let’s get started, shall we?
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Here’s what you can do to get more bang for your buck on furniture:
Go treasure hunting!
First thing’s first – go hunt for diamonds in a rough.
Aside from garage sales, you can also find these at thrift shops such as Goodwill or Value Village. But for me personally, I like looking online. For example, Kijiji, Craigslist, and Letgo are great starters if you don’t like thrift shops.
Secondly, when you’re browsing around, look past the flaws. Instead, use your inner creativity to envision the potential. For example, a lot of your finds will look like the stuff your grandma used in her days, but anything can be easily modernized with your special touch!
If you don’t find exactly what you want, don’t sweat it! Patience is key to finding awesome treasures.
How much does it cost?
Here’s the secret.
So many desperate sellers are willing to let go of solid wood furniture for a really low price or for FREE!
No, it’s not too good to be true.
I’ve picked up many free items in good condition that didn’t require a lot of work.
It’s absolutely fine if there are minor dings and holes because you can easily use Elmer’s Wood Filler to fill them in. Once it’s filled, you can use a putty knife to flatten it to level. After it dries for a day, with a 300 plus grit sandpaper, sand the surface smooth until the filler becomes flat.
Aside from dings and scratches, check for functionality.
For example, if you’re looking for a chest drawer or night sand, check whether the drawers are working properly.
If table legs appear wobbly, check for loose bolts. This can be easily tightened back with a screwdriver.
How to look for free furniture
As mentioned, Kijiji, Craigslist, and Letgo are great sources. The awesome thing about them is that they have a free section.
Be on the outlook because you’ll be surprised what people give away!
Get your DIY groove on!
Now that you have your piece(s) ready, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and have some fun! 💪💪💪
1) Clean it
First and foremost, give your baby a good scrub! Use a paper towel to remove any dust before cleaning.
Now it’s time to bust out the white vinegar and water to remove the dirt and grime. I typically do a 50/50 mix in a plastic cup.
Generally speaking, vinegar is a great ingredient for disinfecting and eliminating grease. Not to mention, it’s an inexpensive cleaning solution. At first, you will notice the strong smell of vinegar, but it goes away after a few hours.
2) Sand it
Honestly speaking, if there isn’t any paint scraping off your wood (or laminate) piece, you can technically skip this step. But it’s recommended to give it at least a light sanding because your primer and paint will adhere better to the furniture’s surface.
If you decide to sand it, make sure you do this outside with safety goggles, gloves, and a mask! Ladies and gents, always remember that safety comes first!!
Next, use your random-orbit sander tool. Alternatively, you could also manually sand with your hands… it will just take longer, lol.
40-60 grit: for furniture that requires any major sanding and/or stripping.
80-120 grit: once the major stripping is done, use an 80-120 grit to sand off any imperfections.
300 grit plus: for the final smoothing process, finish with a light grit of 300 plus.
When you’re done with sanding (finally!!), use any tack cloth to remove all specks of dust.
3) Prime it
For those of you who don’t know, the primer is a paint product that is used prior to painting.
This helps your paint adhere to your furniture’s surface, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping this (especially if you chose not to sand).
My favorite brands:
I usually stick with Kilz primer or Zinnser primer. But knowing you’ll be overwhelmed with so much to choose from, I’d suggest going with something standard like the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer.
On the other hand, spray primers like this are fast and easy to use. But you’d be getting less at the expense of convenience. That said, I personally prefer using my 2-1/2 inch Purdy Paint Brush to prime.
I also have this Purdy 3 Pack because it gives me options when I want to switch the size of my paint brush.
A can of prime goes all long way for only $20 to $60 per gallon. So this option is definitely a better bang for your buck!
After you’ve primed, wait at least 3 hours for it to dry.
Once it dries, use a 300 plus sandpaper to smooth out any rough surfaces. Also, make sure you clean off any dust or lint from the surface prior to the next step, painting. This can be done with any clean tack cloth.
4) Paint it!
Here comes the moment you’ve been waiting for!
YES! It’s time to pull out your brushes to paint! Woo-hoo!!
I love paint SO much because it adds value to almost anything (i.e. furniture, walls, doors, tiles, you name it).
Like the primer, a gallon of paint can go a long way as well. For example, you can paint about 8-13 pieces of furniture depending on the size of your item.
With that said, refurbishing and glamming up furniture is far less than what you would pay at Bombay, Pottery Barn, Urban Barn, and even Ikea.
Not only can you find great quality furniture at a low price, or for free, but you can personalize it any way you like.
Anyway, back to our discussion about painting…
Generally, I recommend an interior latex-based paint with built-in primer. Though it’s built-in with primer, I wouldn’t skip priming (step #3) because this really adheres the paint to your furniture’s surface.
Most of the time, I would paint 2-3 coats for a more opaque look.
My favorite paint of all time:
The paint I absolutely LOVE is Home Depot’s Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Paint and Primer with a matte finish.
Depending on your personal preference, you can choose between a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish.
Here are reasons why I prefer a matte finish:
– It mixes well with Plaster of Paris, an ingredient I use to create a chalk-finish look. Read below on how to make this paint.
– The chalk-finish matte look is great on its own, or for distressing to add character
– A matte look generally hides imperfections very well, whereas gloss will scream out some flaws.
Plaster of Paris and a chalky finish:
When I was looking for chalk paint, I found that Annie Sloan was too expensive for me. That said, when I googled for something more budget friendly, I discovered a DIY version. I found this DIY on Lowe’s website that you can try yourself.
Here are the summarized instructions:
– Mix together a 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris and a 1/3 cup of cool water.
– Stir it with a stick until it becomes completely smooth.
As a result, I absolutely love this hack and I really recommend you to try it out!
5) Design it!
Now comes THE MOST FUN part – hah, at least for me. Go wild and design the crap out of it!
How you want to design it is up to you. The possibilities are endless.
Alternatively, you can always skip this step if you like to keep it simple.
The easiest hack is swapping the old knobs for nicer ones (as I mention below). In addition, if you want to go further with your designs, you can use stencils and a stencil brush to transfer an image, pattern, or motivational quote onto your piece.
Below is an example of one of my first DIY attempts.
BTW, I apologize for these blurry pictures. I promise that this finished nightstand looks 100x better in person! Lol, as a new blogger, I’m just not a pro at taking pictures yet.
You can also see a couple of more pieces that I finished on this post where I talk about earning more money.
Michaels coupon maniac!
As you can see, I replaced the old pulls with white ceramic knobs. They came from my favorite craft store, Michaels, for $2.30 per piece (after tax) with a 55% coupon. I also purchased a reusable stencil from them for $6 (after tax) with that same coupon.
Almost every week, they offer a 50%-55% coupon which you can always find on their website. To sum things up, this piece only cost me a total of $10.60 with a little bit of sweat equity.
I love Amazon!
Alternatively, I also love these beautiful white pumpkin ceramic knobs from Amazon. I personally use them when I refurbish my other furniture items and they cost less than $2 per piece when you buy them in a pack of ten.
I mean, if you were to purchase these knobs from a retail store such as HomeSense or Lowe’s, it would easily cost you $4-$6 per piece!
A pretty fin$savvy thing to do, huh?
It doesn’t stop here, folks! Lookin’ pretty isn’t good enough without protecting it!
6) Seal and protect it!
First, determine whether your piece is a high-traffic item. For example, coffee tables, dining tables, chairs, and dressers are considered high-traffic compared to a lamp, or side table used for décor purposes.
And if you were wondering… yes, you can refurbish lamps as well!
That said, high-traffic items should be sealed and protected because you’re always going to be eating at your coffee and dining tables. On the contrary, you probably won’t be touching your lamp as often.
Again, I’m still progressing and learning so I’m definitely no expert here. But generally speaking, it is recommended to use Polycrylic instead of wax as a protective finish on high-traffic pieces. Polycrylic will prevent your tabletops and dressers from scratching.
My go-to protector:
Or if you like a matte finish (which I personally do), you can check it out here. But note that the Matte finish is a lot pricier. At the end, it depends on which finish you like.
In terms of application, I read that it’s best to apply at least 3 coats. Again, I recommend using a high-quality paintbrush such as the Purdy Paint Brush I mentioned earlier. I promise that you won’t regret spending more on a quality paintbrush because the results are far better than a cheap one!
Not just that, but you’ll also avoid wasting time re-doing it over and over again.
Now that you’ve applied the first coat, wait at least one hour for it to dry.
After it dries, very gently sand the surface with a 300 plus grit paper. Before applying the next coat, make sure all specks of dust are completely removed with a tack cloth. Repeat until you’re satisfied with end results.
On the other hand, wax products such as the Minwax Paste Finishing Wax delivers a beautiful finish. It’s not surprising that many DIY’ers love this finished look.
The downside is it does very little protecting your baby. On the positive side, however, you can apply wax on top of Polycrylic to enhance the finished look. Before applying the wax, make sure that the Polycrylic is completely dry.
For best results, wax after 24 hours of Polycrylic application.
And… voila, time to enjoy!
There you have it – your very own customized from-drab-to-fab furniture!
With a small upfront cost of primer, paint, sanding paper, and other equipment, you can go ahead and work on as many pieces as you like.
With that said, you can be as creative as you wish with your coffee table, side tables, wardrobe, dresser, bookcase, you name it.
Overall, if you want quality and solid furniture for less, these are great projects for you and your partner to tackle on a no-spend weekend. Not only will you be saving money and adding value to your home, but you’ll also have fun while gaining a skill!
Sure, maybe your first piece won’t turn out as expected (that was me), but you’ll learn as you keep going. My advice is to never give up because you’ll never know what you can achieve!
Over to you
Let me know how your project goes! I would love to hear how much money you spent. And oh yeah… don’t forget to show your before and after pics 🙂