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Furniture makeovers: How to repair and restore your favourite pieces

From the Resene decorating blog

With the rising cost of living, global shipping delays and increasing pressure on landfills, there’s never been a better time to look at ways to update and refresh furniture we already own or pick up a ‘new’ second-hand piece and turn someone else’s discarded item into your new treasure.

Whether you are re-imagining pieces you already own or cruising op shops and second-hand stores to find exactly what you need, don’t forget the transformative power of paint and the array of possibilities afforded by new technologies in Resene paint systems which makes things like distressing, ageing and resurfacing easy.

Refurbish your wooden furniture

Three wooden pieces are given a whole new look with Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint which would suit any area of the house.

Hall table painted in Resene Grain Brown finished in Vintage Brown Wax, chair painted in Resene Albescent White and finished in Clear Wax, picture frame painted in Resene Blanched Pink finished with Vintage Wax. Wall painted in Resene Half Washed Green, tall vase painted in Resene Shadowy Blue and floor in Resene Powder Blue. Artwork by Jenni Stringleman from Endemic World, candle vase and candles from Citta, statue and other vases from Freedom Furniture, sunglasses from Karen Walker. Project by Leigh Stockton, image by Bryce Carleton.

Painting a distressed wooden bedside table

This bedside table has been painted in Resene Twizel and then distressed using petroleum jelly to expose the raw timber beneath.

Wall painted in Resene Coast with a ‘headboard’ sun in Resene Seachange. Floor stained in Resene Colorwood Limed Oak and vase in Resene White Thunder. Bed from Sleepyhead, bedlinen, cushions, copper dish and lamp from Citta, artwork from Amber Armitage, candle and linen slippers from Father Rabbit. Project by Gem Adams, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Any piece of wooden furniture can be given a new lease on life with paint. Look for dressers, drawers, desks, hall tables, trunks and plant stands to update your interior’s look. Think about the desired end result, whether simply a new paint job to update and fit in with a new wall colour or bed linen or an aged shabby-chic or distressed look. Experiment with various styles to get the look you want.

Ideas to try:

Getting creative with paint colours

If the piece is already painted and you want to change the colour, it’s best to strip the existing finish entirely but if it’s a wooden piece, sanding should suffice. Although wood finishes suit some schemes a piece can be truly elevated when it is painted – particularly useful when it’s a less desirable wood such as pine or an older piece that has lost the allure of its grain. When choosing what colour to opt for, neutrals are popular choices for furniture makeovers – from timeless white which can suit any room in the house to soft shades of grey or green which can be very calming. Don’t underestimate the power of colour though to create a focal point or statement piece. A bold red such as Resene Jalapeno or Resene Red Berry can make a piece really stand out. A soft lavender such as Resene Alluring works well for a rocking chair in a nursery and a lemon yellow such as Resene Pale Prim suits a chest of drawers in a child’s bedroom. The world of colour is at your fingertips – just give some thought to how it will tie in with other elements in the room.

Ageing with chalk and wax

One way to give furniture a natural ‘aged’ look is to start with Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint which gives a perfect matte finish. The paint, an extension to the Karen Walker colour range, comes with Chalk Wax in Vintage and Clear which, when wax and paint are used together, allows you to achieve the perfect ‘shabby chic’ finish.

To start, lightly sand the piece and wipe down. Next, paint in Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint and leave to dry. Once dry, apply Karen Walker Chalk Wax in Vintage to all the crevices and along any decorative or carved areas of the piece. Then, using a different cloth, use Karen Walker Chalk Wax in Clear to the flat surfaces such as the top of a dress or table to lightly buff out the Vintage wax. Apply more Vintage wax to areas that need a deeper colour such as edges and more Clear wax to those you want to be lightened. Don’t be scared of using too much wax – stop when you’ve achieved your desired finish.

A refurbished coffee table

The top of this coffee table has been restored by sanding back the surface and then staining the timber in Resene Colorwood Natural before overcoating with Resene Aquaclear Satin to protect the surface.

Legs are painted in Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Half Black White. Walls painted in Resene Jet Stream, floor in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, window trims and skirting boards in Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, coasters in Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, mug in Resene Hot August, DIY artwork in Resene Tuscany and Resene Half Black White (stripes) and Resene Nero and Resene Half Black White (circle) and vases in Resene Half Black White, Resene Nero, Resene Tuscany, Resene Hot August, Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue. Curtain from Resene Curtain Collection. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

Painting a coffee table to match the sofa

This coffee table, painted in Resene Ecru White (finished with Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint with Vintage and Clear wax) ties in beautifully with the cream sofa in a way that wouldn’t be so effective if it was left in its original timber finish.

Wall painted in Resene Half Duck Egg Blue, floor painted in Resene Half Dusted Blue, large pot in Resene Quarter Sorrell Brown and small pots in Resene Sandspit Brown and Resene Albescent White. Sofa and rug from Freedom, artwork from Father Rabbit. Tray, shell cluster and cushions from Indie Home Collective, rubber plant from Monochrome Home. Project by Leigh Stockton, image by Bryce Carleton.

Adding protection and creating a smooth surface

Tabletops can receive quite a bit of wear and tear. Resene Aquaclear offers a waterborne alternative to give you a clear protective finish and smooth surface over your timber.

Three ways to add decoration

  1. Découpage is the art of cutting out pieces of paper or sometimes fabric and gluing them to hard surfaces. A popular style in 17th century Italy, this is a fun way to create unique pieces and it’s a great way to hide imperfections on surfaces such as dresser tops or side tables. You can use favourite pictures or pieces of Resene wallpaper. Cover decoupage with Resene Aquaclear to protect your handiwork.

  2. Use low tack masking tape from your Resene ColorShop to create patterns such as checks or stripes and paint in a different colour to the main piece. Or use a stencil to create an elaborate pattern. This works particularly well on the front of cupboards.

  3. Even if you are not a natural artist, you can experiment with some freestyle artwork. Take inspiration from nature-inspired wallpaper designs for a recurring motif.

Four ways to age your furniture

  1. One way to quickly age painted furniture is to simply sand away areas of paint to expose the timber. Or if you use a different topcoat, you can sand to expose areas of your basecoat, as well as areas of raw timber. It’s best if you then protect the piece with Resene Aquaclear to make the piece easy to wipe and dust clean.

  2. To quickly age furniture, smear petroleum jelly on areas that would normally wear such as edges and corners. Paint the piece with a waterborne enamel, such as Resene Lustacryl, then when fully dry, wipe away the petroleum jelly and you’ll find exposed raw timber underneath. You can also use this technique using two colours – paint the basecoat, then add the petroleum jelly, then a topcoat. Once the petroleum jelly is completely removed, finish the full piece of furniture with Resene Aquaclear to protect the paint and the bare timber.

  3. Dragging creates a finely striped effect often associated with antiques. Dragging (often referred to as strie) is a finely striped paint effect created by dragging a dry brush or comb through the wet paint. Where the brush makes contact with the surface, the dragging medium is removed to reveal the basecoat.

  4. Try Resene FX Crackle finish. This is a glaze effect that allows peeks of the base colour to show through and contrast with the topcoat colour. Apply a base coat of colour, then brush on a smooth even coat of Resene FX Crackle. Allow to dry then fairly quickly, brush on your topcoat colour. Apply both finishes in one direction. As the paint dries, the cracks will form. This is best used on small areas as it can be hard to achieve an even crackle on large areas.

Try a combination of finishes and colours on different pieces – the only limit is your imagination. When you’re painting an effect make sure you step back from the piece regularly to check you are achieving your desired look. And if decide it isn’t quite right, you can always paint over it to adjust the finish. It’s best to start with less is more – you can always add a little more later if you need to.

July 31, 2022

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