I’ve read enough home makeover blog posts and magazine articles where the homeowner, upon leaving their previous home, decide to sell every piece of furniture and start completely from scratch again. There’s something rather romantic about the notion of a totally clean slate and while I did get rid of a few pieces when we moved from Manchester to Shrewsbury, I knew a blank slate just wasn’t going to be possible – moving house is a pretty costly exercise and so I did like most people and simply worked as best I could with what I already had.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of times I’ve daydreamed about ridding myself of every single piece of furniture in a room and starting totally over again. I have the attention span of a toddler and so it’s really easy for me to get carried away fantasising about it but realistically, it’s rarely an option. Replacing a whole room of furniture all at once can get pricey very quickly and it seems a shame to do just because the novelty of whatever is there has worn off.
In fact, selling everything is normally a last-resort tactic and while yes, you can and should edit your spaces of items that simply don’t work at all for you any more, even the best interior designers will recommend working with what you already have especially if you want to save money. A lot of times, if it’s just a feeling of being a little bored of a piece of furniture but still realising its potential, it may just be that it’s needing a new lease on life. By swapping things around and using these pieces in fresh and different ways, you may just find yourself falling in love with your old furniture all over again.
I thought today I’d share a few tips for enhancing the look and feel of your existing furniture without having to get rid of your precious pieces with six different ideas for giving your furniture a different look or context.
Swap it Out
I can’t even tell you how many different spots in both this house and our previous that bar cart has appeared.
I’ve been encouraging you to shop your own home to give it a refresh for probably nearly a decade now and yes, I’m going to repeat myself again here. Normally, it’s the smaller accessories that I’ll encourage for a ‘shop the house’ exercise, simply because it’s easier – moving cushions from one room to another or swapping out light fixtures, rugs or art. But if you’re feeling like a real makeover is in order, then moving furniture from one room to another – or moving it to another location in the same room – is a great way to create a massive shakeup in your home.
I remember my mother doing this with some regularity when I was growing up. I’d come home from school and find our dining room had been swapped with the living room or the room would have a completely different configuration. It cost nothing for her to do this but it felt like everything was fresh and new again.
You can do this on a larger scale like my mum did or on a smaller scale with smaller pieces like my bar cart above but changing the context of your furniture can be a great way to make it feel fresh again. Perhaps the console table in your hallway be used as a small desk in the bedroom or your bedside tables can stand in as interesting side tables next to your sofa or mMaybe the armchair in the living room would work rather well as a reading nook in the bedroom – you get the idea.
Go With the Flow
We swapped and changed items in the living room to make it flow better, making better use of the space in the process.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice that explores how energy flows within our surroundings, allowing us to harmonise better with our environment. Even if it’s not something you might practice yourself, considering how your room flows and how traffic moves through it can mean the difference between a room not really working very well and it feeling effortlessly pulled together. Maybe you’re constantly hitting your knee on the edge of the coffee table every time you pass by it? Or perhaps clutter has completely taken over your dining room table to the point where you simply don’t use it for its intended purpose any more? Perhaps you just aren’t making the best use of a larger open-plan space?
Open up the spaces within your home, declutter and define zones so that you can freely move about it with ease and the energy in your home will naturally shift in response. This might mean exchanging large pieces in one room with smaller pieces from another or you may want to try moving furniture away from the walls to allow a few pieces to ‘float’ in the room using rugs or side tables as anchors to create a totally new look. If you create a natural flow, both you and your furniture pieces will be able to breathe a little easier.
Create a New Backdrop
A couple of hours of work and that yellow headboard looked so much fresher after painting that back wall in leftover pink paint (it’s Little Green Paint Company’s Hellebore btw).
Aside from swapping out furniture in my first tip to a different room or location, another way to change the context of an existing piece of furniture is to simply change its backdrop. By introducing a new paint colour, wallpaper, texture or pattern to your walls, your existing furniture will look and feel different within the space. Whether you go bold and daring or soft and neutral, it’s often a fresh new backdrop that can make our furniture pop again.
If you’re looking for more dynamic energy within a room, then offset your lighter pieces with darker wall colours or offset darker furniture with lighter wall colours. Or you might want to add a feeling of calm within a space, using more neutral pieces of furniture against some trendier paint colours – think desert shades of terracotta, blush, lilac or ochre for a bit of additional sunshine within your room. You could add panelling as well or textured wallpaper or a mural which will give your furniture textures something to contrast with.
Make the Most of Awkward Spaces
In our old dining room, that little awkward alcove in our dining room was the home (at least for a while) for the bar area. A few wall shelves made the most of the space. (You can see how I made those shelves here).
Why not adapt some of your existing pieces to fit into places in your home that aren’t currently being used? A small writing desk might be better used as table in the hallway or you might want to move a bench in front of your bed as a spot to put shoes on in the morning. A reading corner only takes a few pieces – a comfy chair, a reading light and maybe a small bookshelf or magazine rack. Can an awkward alcove be the perfect spot for a home office or can you create an impressive bar set up with a sideboard along a wall in the living room? Get creative with those smaller spots and awkward areas with furniture and it could just enrich the way you use your home.
Give Your Furniture a Revamp
One of my favourite furniture makeover projects over the years was that little wallpapered pine chest of drawers in our previous home and probably one of the most popular projects on my blog (you can see that here).
Of course, you knew I was going to mention updating your furniture in the post with paint, wallpaper, new handles or a new finish. It’s such an easy and highly satisfying way of giving an existing piece a fresh new look and I can’t even tell you how many pieces of furniture over the years I’ve had that have gotten treated to a brand new look in this way. If you’re updating laminate or IKEA furniture, then you really need to see this post first. I have had so many, many emails over the years from people telling me what a massive difference this one little product makes.
There are so many tutorials online of how to paint furniture but if you are updating wood, then be sure to give it a bit of a sand and clean it then apply your primer and then follow that with a paint that’s suitable for wood finishes. Whether you use paint, wallpaper, spray paint, sticky-back plastic or something else, one of the biggest benefits of refreshing furniture like this, is that it creates a completely unique piece that no one else will have.
Reboot with Accessories
And finally, when it comes to updating pieces that can’t necessarily be painted or updated, then don’t underestimate the ability of accessories to give it a new look. Sofas and armchairs can look great layered in different ways with throws and cushions (check out my post where I restyled my little pink sofa five different ways), your bed will look fresh and new with some fabulous new bed linens or a new cute combination of cushions too.
And it’s not just soft furnishings, a bookcase, wall shelves, console tables, coffee tables and the like can be restyled with items from your travels, family photos, vintage pieces, flowers, art and more. Swap the accessories and style it up and suddenly, it will look different. If you’re struggling with this element, why not book my Finishing Touch Styling Service? It’s all about adding the accessories that give your spaces some life.
So I hope you found these ideas helpful to reworking your existing furniture pieces! How have you updated or revamped your own existing pieces? Let me know in the comments!