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How to restore and renew your old furniture

How to restore and renew your old furniture

Are you keen to upcycle your old furniture, but aren't sure where to start? Here are some tips for renewing saggy sofas, tired beds and more

With a little imagination and a coat of paint, some different fabric or a change of accessories, you can give your latest furniture bargain a fresh look for just a few pounds. Make budget buys look better and last longer, and restore furniture bought secondhand.

Revamp your seating

You can often pick up wicker pieces for next to nothing, and they look just as good in a bedroom as on the patio or in a conservatory. You'll pay less if the seats are saggy. To tighten them, turn the chairs upside down, wet the underside with a damp sponge and leave for 24 hours to dry and shrink. Give the wickerwork a new-look colour change by spraying with acrylic paint.

Make an old sofa more comfy by fitting a piece of plywood beneath cushions for under £10. Or replace foam in cushions—pay about £60 for new foam cut to fit four cushions.

Create new pieces

Create a headboard for a bed with a length of fabric, a throw or a lightweight rug hung from wooden dowelling or a broom handle fixed to the wall behind the bed.

Palette furniture

Make new furniture out of packaging such as wooden palettes

Turn packaging into furniture by throwing an attractive piece of fabric over a sturdy cardboard box, or a plastic or wooden crate. This will give you an instant, no-cost coffee table.

Fix or replace broken parts

If wardrobe door panels are marked or broken, take them out and use a staple gun (a good investment at around £10) to staple lengths of gathered fabric in their place.

Prevent table legs from wobbling by ensuring one leg isn't shorter than the others. Lengthen a short leg by cutting a piece of cork to the right size and gluing it on with wood adhesive. This is a lot easier than shortening the other legs.

"With a little imagination, you can give your latest furniture bargain a fresh look for just a few pounds"

Worried about weak shelves? Screw battens under the back edges of shelves for extra support to prevent bowing.

Replace plastic knobs or handles on furniture with smart metal or chrome ones, from as little as £2 each.

Cover up damage

Rub small scratches on wood with half a walnut kernel to restore the colour. Repair deeper scratches by rubbing with a wax crayon of the same colour until the crack is filled. Then cover a small piece of wood with a soft rag and rub across the filled scratch to remove surface wax. Buff with a soft cloth and the scratch should be almost invisible. Make white rings fade by rubbing them with toothpaste.

DIY reupholstery

You could try doing your own reupholstery

Reupholstering a sofa is expensive—around half the price of a new sofa. The easiest and least expensive way to disguise worn-out seating is to drape an attractive bedspread, throw or blanket over it.

If you need to buy fabric, the cheapest option is cotton calico that can then be dyed to match your decor. This costs about £2 a metre from a fabric shop. For a more fitted look, use a staple gun to fix fabric to the underside of the sofa to stop it slipping off.

Dealing with drawers

If drawers are not sliding in and out smoothly, rub the runners with a candle, a bar of soap or petroleum jelly. If they still stick, rub gently with fine-grade glasspaper or an emery board and re-apply the wax or soap.

Take out flimsy hardboard drawer bases and back panels, and substitute chipboard to make them more solid. A large sheet costs about £5 from Wickes—half the price of plywood. Alternatively, use wood recycled from old furniture.

Get painting

If you have any leftover paints and are decorating a child's bedroom, try painting each drawer in a chest-of-drawers a different shade, or paint wardrobe doors a contrasting colour to the frame.

"You can transform wood with a little paint"

You can transform wood with paint. The finish will be far more professional if you sand first or remove old paint with paint-stripper. Streamlined tables and chairs are much easier to strip than ones with fussy mouldings.

Ornate chairs may require professional stripping (from around £20), so bear this in mind when buying. Coordinate mismatched wooden kitchen and dining chairs by painting them all the same colour.

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