5 Easy Ways to Modernize Outdated Furniture

modernize furniture Homemakers Furniture

Style is a constantly evolving process. It takes time to figure out exactly what design style suits you and what furniture fits your space. You may decorate your home in full traditional style only to later discover you prefer a fresh, contemporary palette. We tend to acquire pieces that have sentimental value and are still perfectly useful, from grandma’s antique chest to that vintage table you found in a secondhand shop in college. So what do you do with a home full of outdated pieces?

Time for a little DIY updating! We put together a list of five easy ways to freshen up and modernize your outdated furniture.


1. A fresh coat of paint

This is without a doubt one of the simplest ways you can completely change the style of a piece of furniture.  Before slapping a new paint of coat on your outdated piece, don’t forget it may need a little preparation first. Older wood pieces need to be sanded to create a surface for paint to stick to which results in a smoother application. Make sure you fill in holes and cracks with wood filler. After all of this, wipe down the piece with tack cloth to pick up any leftover residue.

Next it’s time to prime! Use a foam roller to apply a coat of primer everywhere you’ll be painting. Once the primer is dry, sand it and wipe it down again with tack cloth to get rid of any drips. Now you can paint! Use a mini roller to apply several coats of paint. Give each coat time to dry but make sure you sand away any drips before you paint again. It may take you several days for all coats to be applied.

Once all the coats have been applied, wipe down the piece with a new tack cloth before applying a coat of protectant. Give the protectant at least 72 hours to dry completely before you move it.

Voila, you have a fresh piece of furniture!

Powell chest from Homemakers Furniture

Powell Dolly Bombay Chest

We love the bright color of this Powell chest. Consider painting an old piece a bright color for an unexpected pop of style!

2. New hardware

Sometimes the only style detail you need to change is the hardware. There are three different directions you can go with hardware: replacing, painting or cleaning.

You can go any style direction you want for knobs and pulls- whether it’s a shiny brass pull for a dresser or quirky ceramic knobs for a dresser. Most knobs and handles are fairly easy to take off, simply check for a screw or washer and nut on the inside of a drawer or door. Before you buy new knobs, measure and count (and then do it again!). You don’t want to buy knobs or handles only to discover you’re short a few or they don’t fit.  You can find knobs and handles at any hardware store as well as some antique stores and in online shops, like Etsy. Pick something chic and sleek for a contemporary twist or choose a bright color for stylish contrast.
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If you just want to spruce up existing knobs or handles, you can always do a deep clean. We all know metal tarnishes and sometimes all your hardware needs is good scrubbing to look good as new. Use a specialty cleaner for metal to take tarnish off and restore shine. You’d be surprised what metal hardware can look like after a deep clean; sometimes that’s all you need!

If you want a change in hardware without spending money on new pieces, break out the paint! All you need is a can of spray paint for a completely fresh looking set of knobs or handles. Simply remove the handles and spray paint it whatever color you like.

Daniel's Amish dresser from Homemakers Furniture

Daniel’s Amish Nouveau Dresser

The square metal knobs are a bold contemporary contrast to the rich traditional style of this solid cherry dresser. Consider adding knobs or handles in a completely different color or style for a fresh new look.

3. Fresh accessories

This may seem like an overly simple suggestion but when was the last time you changed out the accessories in a room? If your dresser is looking dated and you’ve had the same picture frames, lamp, jewelry box and mirror on it since you bought it, consider changing those out first! It’s an easy solution and one that can be done seasonally (or even more often!).
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A new lamp can easily change the look and feel of an outdated piece. Looking to freshen up a heavy, traditional piece? Look for a glass lamp to lighten up heavy wood and provide a mixed media element. Add an unexpected twist with a clock. Simply lean a wall clock on the top of a dresser or a nightstand.

You can always find more accessories in our seasonal marketplace. When the weather starts to change and you notice it’s time for a change in décor, pop into the showroom to find new accessories to change up the way you have a piece styled. It’s an easy seasonal refresh!

4. Contact paper

Looking for an easy cheat when it comes to changing the look of dated furniture? Contact paper is your new best friend! Think of it as wallpaper for your furniture that can easily be changed out. Refinishing a piece with contact paper can be as simple as changing out the lining of drawers or changing the entire look of a piece.

Decide what you want your new piece to look like: a solid bright color? A jazzy new print? Whatever color you choose, before applying the paper make sure your piece is clean first. Contact paper sticks best to clean surfaces, so remove all traces of dirt and sand down any marks that will make the paper bubble. Measure precisely by lining the paper up on the piece and triple checking where you need to cut. Use a blade or sharp tool to make a crisp, professional cut so that the edges of the paper are not noticeable when you apply it. Always try to hide seams if possible.

In a matter of minutes you could have a brand new piece of furniture!

5. Reupholster

Reupholstering a chair or bench can be a great way to breathe new life into an old piece. If you are in possession of an antique piece that has stood the test of a time but just needs a fresh update, there’s no reason to toss it or give it away! Same goes for a secondhand piece you may have found on sale; just because you don’t like the fabric is no reason to write it off!
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When reupholstering you have two directions to go: a timeless neutral fabric or a fun, unexpected color or pattern. If you don’t want a piece to look too trendy (and therefore be outdated again in a few years) avoid prints and colors you know are just seasonally popular. But not all colors and patterns are fleeting. A bold solid color is always a stylish choice if you want to make a chair a contrasting accent piece.

Ashley Cerdic chair from Homemakers Furniture

Ashley Cerdic Accent Chair

Refresh a classic chair design with vibrant upholstery. We love the jewel tone of this accent chair as it adds depth to the palette of your space.


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