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A Fresh Start with Old Furniture

Stylish rooms can begin with flea-market finds transformed by clever cuts and coats of paint.

Glory Restored
Turn these old pieces...

It's been said that one person's trash is another's treasure, and today it's never been truer. Designers are viewing old furniture and castoffs of every kind as fodder for creating rooms with unique character.

All it takes is an imaginative eye, basic carpentry skills, and the transforming power of paint. Artist Molly Spain and her brother, blacksmith Sean Spain, see possibility in some of the most forlorn pieces and prove the point through their company, Blue Road Studio.

Together, this designing duo takes unwanted finds and refashions them into elegant furnishings.

By choosing to paint all the disparate pieces in black, Molly and Sean create a classic, unified look that works as well in a vintage setting as it does in a contemporary room.

This offers a gracious look and the one-rich-color approach hides the fact that you've invested very little time and money.

Shuttered Entertainment Unit
For most of the recycled furniture in her own home, Molly created an old-world look using black paint and a variety of slightly different techniques. The black paint helps hide flaws in the pieces while emphasizing shapely contours and pleasing details.

Moss green on the fireplace wall and leaf green on the remaining walls provide the ideal backdrop for the richly hued pieces. The entertainment center, for example - fashioned from exterior shutters, plywood, trim pieces, and table legs -- gets its vintage look from two coats of black satin latex paint.

Once the paint was dry, the edges were sanded for a worn look. The pieces was finished with a coat of oak stain (applied and removed with a soft cloth) over all the surfaces to create instant age.

Half-Round Table
A departure from the dark pieces, the half-round sofa table began as a round, uninspired kitchen table.

By cutting the table in half and repositioning two of the legs to the long back edge, the pieces was transformed into an elegant console.

For contrast, paint the table white and add a pattern on the tabletop. The apron and turnings were highlighted in black.

Sanding the edges makes it appear as though the finish is decades old.

Door to Sofa
A massive paneled oak door, salvaged from an old house, yielded the classically styled sofa. To make the piece, cut the bottom two panels off the door.

Use the remainder of the door as the sofa back and the bottom panels as the sides.

Simple legs, wooden cabinet knobs across the back to hold loops on the cushions, and two smooth coats of black paint finish the piece.

Painted Makeovers

What You Need:

  • Furniture of your choice
  • Satin white and black latex paint
  • Oak stain (we used MinWax brand Aged Oak gel stain)
  • Household paintbrush: 1- and 2-inch
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Satin-finish varnish
  • Find step-by-step project instructions below.

Headboard to Loveseat
Molly and Sean used the same approach when they created the love seat bench. This time, two twin-size Jenny Lind-style headboards provided the raw materials.

One was cut in half and secured to the other headboard for the bench sides. After applying two coats of black paint and letting them dry, the edges were sanded and rubbed with oak stain over the entire surface.

Removing the cushion from an old footstool made the legs ready for a coat of black paint and a glass oval top, transforming it into a coffee table.

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