20 Creative Furniture Makeover Ideas to Help You Turn Basic Pieces into Masterpieces

published Apr 25, 2022
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After: Vintage cabinet painted blue with white interior and wallpapered accent

Are you eyeing your first-ever furniture flip project, but feeling intimidated about the process and wondering where to start? Make your way through our starter pack. This content was created independently by our editorial team and generously underwritten by the Toyota Corolla Cross.

At its core, furniture has to serve a function. A chair allows you to rest, a dresser keeps you organized, and a coffee table holds your favorite drink within arm’s reach. But beyond the practicality of furnishings, these items also have the potential to bring you joy based on their beauty. And as any furniture flipper knows, the possibilities for making items meet needs and wants are endless. With a little creativity, you can make furniture both functional and beautiful.

To prove this point, read through these 20 furniture makeovers that made surfaces, seats, shelving, and more something to behold. Whether it was a coffee table that got a faux marble finish, a shoe storage rack that turned into a mid-century statement, or a record holder that got a new paint job, these projects underscore good usage with killer looks. Get a glimpse below, and learn how to follow suit.  

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1. Faux granite and gold paint remedied a boring end table.

It seems appropriate to start off this roundup with an IKEA hack, since furniture from this beloved box store usually makes for impressive DIY furniture transformations. This $30 project starts with a simple GLADOM end table, which was then upcycled using textured spray paint to create a “granite” top. Gold spray paint was then used to cover the legs to create a high-end look on a budget. 

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2. A bright paint edge changed the entire look of a mid-century desk.

This adorable turquoise desk is a simple paint redo on a solid wood piece, but the addition of metallic paint on the front edge elevated the entire design into something truly unique. Adding touches of metallic is a simple way to make any furniture makeover go beyond the expected. 

Credit: Michelle McRae
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3. A fluted front and gold hardware transformed a basic console table.

When the doors broke mid-remodel on this shabby chic console table, Michelle McRae of Shelly Chic Boutique decided to add wooden slats to it that were then painted navy — changing the entire look of the piece. She also took off the old legs and added gold ones to match the equally new hardware, and the finished item came in at $125.

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4. Oak pole wrap turned a dull shoe storage solution into an entryway focal point.

Alanna Hurley needed shoe storage in her small entryway, and picked out a common solution to do the job: a basic IKEA cabinet. Its slight frame was perfect, but its original aesthetic was not, which is why Alanna turned to oak pole wrap to give the front more of a statement. All she had to do was cut the pole wrap to fit, attach it with very strong glue, and suddenly this piece matched her apartment’s style.

Credit: Sasha Kampmeier
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5. Spray-painting the delicate woodwork of this telephone bench gave it a “wow” factor.

While most furniture painting is best accomplished with a paintbrush, the delicate details of this vintage telephone table ​​that DIYer Sasha Kampmeier found at an antique shop were easiest to fill in with spray paint. She added a new cushion once the paint was dry, and now this throwback piece makes a comfy spot for scrolling Instagram. The entire project cost her $20.

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6. A hand-painted pattern made this standard bookcase really shine.

Ashley Chesser of My Healthy Habitat and her husband, Peter, had an old bookcase that needed new style and more function. So they added doors and a hand-painted pattern on the back — and both are easier to accomplish than you might think. The doors cost less than $15 to make and are perfect for hiding clutter, leaving the top shelves appointed with just enough items to let the scalloped pattern show through. The whole project cost the couple $90. 

Credit: Kate W
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7. Some careful prep work turned this beat-up vintage record cabinet into a beauty.

With vinyl (records, that is) making a comeback, this tilt-out record cabinet was a truly lucky thrift store find for DIYer Kate Warefield. Veneered pieces can deter some from choosing a particular piece of furniture for a restoration project, but careful sanding and priming worked perfectly before Kate applied a new shade of blue. Filling in the holes from the old pulls and replacing them with new streamlined brass pulls went a long way in making this record cabinet look like a modern-meets-vintage masterpiece.

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8. A monochromatic paint job transformed a childhood cabinet.

This vintage cabinet was once in Emma Hildreth’s childhood bedroom, rescued from the curb decades ago. She decided to rescue it once again with a paint project. Rather than choosing new hardware, Emma covered the existing pulls in the same deep navy as the exterior, creating a cool monochrome piece that contrasts with the white inside. To paint metal, make sure to scrub it with soapy water and mineral spirits, scuff it up with sandpaper, and apply several thin coats. 

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9. Custom hardware and an ombre paint job gave a basic dresser some whimsy.

When Jennifer Laura, who blogs at Jennifer Laura Living, was updating her son’s bedroom, she turned to the trusty IKEA HEMNES dresser as a sturdy backdrop for a fun project. She opted to paint each row of drawer fronts a different shade of blue for an ombre finish, and attached animal figurines in coordinating shades as the hardware. The entire redo cost $100, including the figurines. 

10. Two weeks of steady prep work made this $75 Craigslist find a stunner.

Sady Evyn Reish of Lovely Splendid Happy knew that dark matte paint would show flaws easily on this $75 Craigslist dresser she found, so a particular process was required to transform it. She spent two weeks sanding and smoothing the surface, including filling many scratches and dings with wood filler, before she was ready to paint it a mossy shade of green. The final look is dramatic, and an unexpected neutral in a light room. 

Credit: Liz Stiglianese
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11. A metallic paint job brought a little fun to a plain IKEA piece.

When Liz Stiglianese was redoing her bedroom, she scored an unfinished IKEA nightstand with plans to turn it into a much more expensive-looking piece. She added three coats of paint and a finishing wax to make the top portion durable enough to stand up to charging phones, spilled cups of morning coffee, and the general wear-and-tear that a bedside table receives. Metallic gold paint on the legs and an unexpected dinosaur knob gave the tiny table a bit of extra unexpected flair. 

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12. Specialized paint made this boring office furniture look much more high-end.

This sturdy laminate office table that Serena McGinnis of Survival of a Suburban Mom found secondhand was dull and boring — but she understood it had potential. Painting the laminate finish was certainly possible, but Serena knew it wouldn’t create the natural look she was after. Instead, she chose paint with wood fibers in it, which she followed with stain. The combo allowed her to fake a wood-grain appearance on the laminate table, and the results look much more high-end than the under-$100 price tag. 

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13. Gold leaf and faux sheepskin fabric took chairs from functional to fabulous for under $100.

Meme Grimes of Sip Craft Sip found a set of 10 chairs on Facebook Marketplace for $8 a piece. They were in good shape, but predictable, and she aimed to make them entirely unique: with gold-covered frames and bold cushions. The process of applying gold leaf to the intricate wood detail was time-consuming and messy, but created a dramatic final look that can’t be recreated with typical metallic paint.

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14. Cane webbing gave this IKEA piece a new look on a tight budget.

Meghan Wheeler of MWHomeGoods had a solid, unfinished wooden RAST dresser from IKEA she wanted to make over, with an aim of keeping the entire project budget-friendly. Her goal was to create a mid-century modern piece with a cane front; stapling the cane directly to the drawer fronts and hiding the edges with trim made the project easy. A black paint job, a new set of legs, and fresh gold hardware completed the transformation for less than $100.

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15. Splitting this hutch into two created two more modern furniture pieces for a steal.

In this redo from Chica and Jo, two ingenious items came from one. Chica found a bulky, outdated hutch in her parent’s neighborhood. Inspiration struck, and the friends decided to separate the hutch into two separate pieces to make a turquoise console table and a white faux fireplace. Sanding, priming, and painting was key to the console, while the fireplace was made using scraps from the former hutch. Talk about sustainability!

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16. A damaged vintage dresser was revived with stenciled paint.

This rickety dresser didn’t look like much in a thrift store when Carrie Waller of Dream Green DIY spotted it, but some chalky finish paint on the frame and a swirl design on the drawer fronts was all it needed to look and feel like the best of the 1960s. A Magic Eraser sponge was enough to take most of the grime off the wooden fronts and let the wood grain show through, and a coat of furniture wax over the entire piece protects the design. 

Credit: Justine
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17. Contact paper stole the show in this cabinet redo.

When Justine inherited this 2000s-era china cabinet, it wasn’t in her style but it was in her budget (“free” is always worth a shot). She used bright white chalky finish paint and removable contact paper in a fun lemon print to make it feel more like her, adding green pulls as a finishing touch. Justine also decided to remove the doors from the top portion of the cabinet, helping the end result feel much lighter. 

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18. Multiple patterns came together to make this coffee table a stunner.

Michaell Johnson of The Vanilla Plum fell in love with a $5,000 coffee table — but that price wasn’t going to work for her. Instead, she decided to recreate its look with a piece she found on the curb. This coffee table was made of sturdy wood, so Michaell sanded it and painted on a faux white marble. She then painted on black stripes, and splattered white paint over the top. With a finishing coat of epoxy, her new coffee table looked just as good as the one she had in mind, but came in at $100. 

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19. Custom floral appliqués were the key to this once-boring cabinet’s new cottagecore vibe.

When DIYer Hana Sethi of Hana’s Happy Home came across this $7 bathroom cabinet, it was broken and seemed destined for a trash heap — but she couldn’t resist the challenge or the price. She was currently turning her main bedroom’s closet into a nursery, and thought the piece could work as a dresser. Hana flipped the piece upside down, covered the existing rattan with MDF boards, and painted it all sage green. But the truly remarkable detail of this item is that she made the resin flowers herself, attaching them with heavy-duty adhesive. 

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20. Basic bookcases became so much more in this dining room redo.

Amanda Escoe and her husband, John Sutkowski, had an outdated dining room with no storage — it only had a dining set. They decided to overhaul the entire room, and in the process, used a nook for built-ins that could serve as storage and as a display. The built-ins were made using IKEA’s BILLY bookcases in the three-shelf size, which were then finished with gold hardware and surrounded by open shelves. Now the space looks modern, and can tuck away plenty of their things. This project is a good reminder to think outside the box when it comes to furniture flips — even the most humble of pieces can find a useful new life.