How to Update Antique Furniture: 10 Best Ideas

Do you have a sofa that used to be in your grandma’s basement full of stuff? Perhaps a dresser, coffee table, or dining table that you picked up at a flea market or any other antique furniture that clashes with almost everything you own? If so, then you’re in the right place for your DIY projects. In this post, we’ll discuss how to update various antique furniture items regardless of size and give it a new makeover that is budget friendly.

Old furniture has elegance, quality, and history—qualities you’ll rarely find in new pieces. Unfortunately, their look and finish may not always work well with your specific decorating style in your home.

Before you toss out that old hand-me-down table or couch just yet, bear in mind that there are plenty of ways to work old furniture into your modern and chic room in your home. All you need is a few products, materials and some effort. And the best part is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Here are a few great ideas to keep in mind.


Paint offers one of the easiest ways to update old furniture like with new life. It’s relatively cheap, easy to use, and exciting to add color to your items. For the best results, start with the first coat and brush on primer, then sand between coats for an even finish. You might also want to fill any dents, cracks or deep scratch lines with filler.

Going bold with colour choice isn’t always the best option unless you want your furniture piece like a chair to be the room’s focal point. Consider playing safe with black or white. On the other hand, smaller pieces can work well with a bright hue, such as lemon yellow or ruby red.


Staining is another exciting way to update your old furniture or antiques. You can choose to buy your stain at any retailer or make your own. Like painting, staining offers an extensive array of colour options and tones, from classic all-white to bright yellow.

You can choose to match the existing stain or go for a shade of colour that complements your home decor or the fabric of your curtains. Use a chemical stripper to get rid of the existing stain, then follow up with sanding, focusing on every nook and cranny of the piece before you brush on the stain. The trick here is to work in small sections and keep the stain on the same length of time for each section before wiping it off.

Many older pieces feature detailed engravings and trim work, so you’ll have to be patient when refinishing.

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Add Clear Wax

If you love the appearance of natural wood, stripping the paint and adding a clear coat wax may be your best choice. You can start by using a paint stripper to remove paint from the entire piece. Once you’ve stripped the whole surface, use a natural wax to restore the unit to its former glory. Consider clear wood wax as it will protect the wood and show off its natural colours.


Sometimes, your project needs no more than a bit of scrubbing. A good quality cleaner should suffice. If your piece can handle the pressure, a power washing system or something similar may yield even better results. The next time you come across a buy/sell post with old furniture, think of how you can transform it to suit your space.

Spray Painting

You don’t have to be a graffiti artist to get exceptional results from spray painting your furniture. It’s pretty cheap way and requires little to no prep work. You’ll be surprised at what spray paint can do to the furniture you already have. Color options range from bright, punchy colours for statement pieces to matte sprays that can give your old furniture some character.

If you’re not a fan of DIY projects, you could drop the furniture off at an auto body shop and have it sprayed. Call your local auto body shop and ask whether they accept furniture. If so, drop it off, choose a colour, and have it sprayed by experts with experience.

Furniture Transfers

Furniture transfers usually look stunning on farmhouse-style furniture and dressers. It’s another way of updating furniture without paint. They’re decorative and typically come in a roll. Just place the transfer where you’d like it and rub it onto the furniture. The good thing with transfers is that you can cut them to size if you only need to use a small section for your makeover job.


Furniture decals can transform your furniture from a total snore-fest to fun and hip. The application process is quite simple.

● Soak the decal in warm water until it loosens up.
● Slide the decal onto the furniture carefully before peeling off the backing paper.
● Smooth over the decal gently using a soft cloth or soft tissue and remove any water that may still be underneath.
● Leave it overnight to dry.
● Add a layer of varnish or wax to protect the decal and prevent it from peeling off.

Consider using decals on a large area such as a sideboard or headboard.


Using wallpaper is one of the quickest budget friendly tips on how to update antique furniture. Wallpaper allows you to bring instant gratification without a lot of hassle and mess. Consider pick-and-stick wallpaper, which will enable you to add some patterns, colors or change up the style of your furniture in your bedroom or elsewhere whenever you feel the need.

Add New Hardware

If you love the colour of a piece already but think it could still benefit from a facelift or upgrade, consider adding some personality to the furniture. Hardware stores and furniture retail outlets have plenty of hardware options to consider. Installing new handles, for example, can make a significant difference in the overall appearance of a set of drawers as part of a bedroom furniture set.


Adding new features or finishes can transform a piece in terms of both functionality and design. Adding glass, stone, or tile to the top of a table gives it character, hides any imperfections, and can help tie the piece into the room’s overall style.

Now that you know how to renew and modernize antique furniture, you can go ahead and start working on your innovative DIY reinvention of all your family heirlooms and cherished older pieces without going over budget.

Brilho Luxury Cleaning & Services is your trusted source for a wide range of antique furniture repair services in Toronto. Call our experts at 416-923-3300 or email [email protected] to learn more about our service and schedule an appointment with us today. We guarantee delivery of exceptional results.