How to Refurbish Used Furniture: The Power of Color

Upcycling old furniture is a great way to add unique, customized pieces to any room in your home. After rescuing items from a second-hand store, garage sale, or attic, you can embark on a weekend refurbishing project to imbue a room with a little extra character, history, and charm. By thinking beyond a piece’s original function and design, it’s possible to restore old furniture and give it a modern twist with the use of color theory.

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Refurbish Old Furniture to Fit Your Space

First, decide where you want to use a refurbished piece. Is the style of the room trendy, minimal, bohemian, or more neutral? Next, decide how the piece fits with the rest of your aesthetic. In a room with neutral tones, you might want to restore the piece in a way that adds a modern pop of color. In a bold room, you might design the piece to break up loud colors or patterns to provide more visual appeal or tie the look together.

In addition to design, you should consider the way certain colors can impact the mood of a space. For example, red is a warm, passionate color that breathes vitality. Orange is associated with warmth and joy and is a great complement for blue, which tends to evoke a sense of calm. Sunny yellow adds some cheer, while shades of green represent growth, renewal, and balance. Pink is credited with creating feelings of affection and compassion, while purple brings to mind royalty and luxury or spirituality.

Refresh with White

If you’re having trouble committing to a color, then consider using white. To create a modern look that’s warm and inviting, interior designer Alissa Pulcrano of Bright Designlab recommends layering several shades of white in a room. Refurbishing in white adds a contemporary appeal to old furniture without hindering the piece’s timeless form or quality workmanship.

Remember, if you’re planning to paint over dark colors with a white, light, or neutral shade, then sanding and priming are important steps to help you achieve the quality finish you want. If you’re going for an all-white look, then fresh greenery — plants, flowers, succulents, and ivy — can provide just the right amount of accent.

Modernize Fearlessly

When working with a great antique piece, don’t be afraid to modernize it. One excellent option is to learn how to refurbish old furniture with new fabric. For example, you can restore vintage or antique bergère chairs and give them a modern twist by using a bright velvet upholstery. The mix of old-world charm and youthful color creates a fresh look that immediately adds personality to your space.

Another way to modernize is through paint color. Add contemporary style to an old piece of furniture by using multiple shades in complementary colors. You could refurbish an old dresser by painting each drawer in alternating colors or by using painters’ tape to add a pattern.

Get on Board with Bold

When it comes to repairing old furniture and breathing new life into pieces, you can always go bold. Bright pops of color in a space filled with natural tones draw the eye to the refurbished pieces and show off the beautiful and interesting improvements. It also adds a splash of fun and personality to a room and can make a space more reflective of your personal style.

But bold colors don’t have to be reserved for accent pieces. Entire rooms can benefit from a bold look, depending on the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve. When recreating a room in bold tones, remember the color wheel is your friend. Go for complementary colors that are directly opposite each other on the wheel, such as orange and blue, pink and green, or purple and yellow.

Keep in mind that a bright, bold look doesn’t have to be limited to just two colors. To bring together a tetrad of four loud colors in a room, try two warm analogous colors, like orange and yellow, paired with two cool analogous colors, like blue and green. Add one or two patterned colored pieces to give the eyes a focal point, or throw in a few accents in white or another neutral tone to help break up an array of color.

For maximum cohesion, think of your furniture arrangement in the same way you might view a colorful bouquet of flowers. Designer Sasha Bikoff says the trick is to “find a connection [that will] showcase colors found throughout the room.”

No matter which aesthetic you choose for your refurbishing project, the power of color gives you plenty of options for achieving just the right look. For great deals on premium gently used furniture, head to a nearby CORT Clearance Center to find the right pieces for every room.


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