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Making Hand-Me-Down Furniture Look Great

25 October 2020 562 views 14 Comments

When furnishing your first apartment, you may not have the cash to purchase new couches, beds, tables, and more. Most young adults rely on hand-me-downs, either from friends and family members or from second-hand stores.

The problem with hand-me-downs is that, of course, they aren’t new. If you’re lucky enough to get furniture in extremely good condition, this may not be a problem for you, but most of us are dealing with stains, tears, chips, scuffs, and general wear and tear.

So how can you keep your furniture looking great, even if you’re the second (third? fourth?) owner? Use the following tips:

  • Pay for a professional cleaning. If you’re dealing with dingy fabric on sofas, especially from furniture that used to be in a home with animals, getting the cushions professionally cleaned can make a world of difference. It is well worth the cost!
  • Use slip covers and table clothes. No one will know what is underneath, and as a bonus, you can remove and wash slip covers and table clothes easily to keep things looking fresh and new.
  • Refinish wood pieces. It isn’t hard to sand and stain wooden furniture in most cases. You can even paint if you don’t want to take the time to stain. The point it, this will take about one weekedn to do, but will make pieces look brand new.

Once you’ve spruced up your furniture - and I can’t stress this enough - TAKE CARE OF IT. If you have pets, clean cushions at least once or twice a week, and even if you don’t, regularly work to maintain your furniture. You’ll get a much longer life out of pieces if you care for them regularly, and if they still look nice, you can even pass them on to the next person or sell them when you’re ready to buy new pieces.

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  • Sarah said:

    Very helpful information! I love using slip covers on used furniture! It really spruces them up! Also decorative pillows/throws!
    Thanks for a second chance to win your bloggy giveaway!

  • Lindsie said:

    Thank you for the tips! With the exception of our bed, all of our furniture has been hand me downs!

  • Jessica said:

    I have always been afraid to use slipcovers. I fear that they will look to cheesy. Oh well, I guess I just need to find the right ones.

  • Jennifer said:

    such great ideas! We have been married for over 4 years and stil eating off my parents hand me down dining table! Ugh! It does the job but is wobbly and just the wrong color but I never knew how to stain it or what I would exactly do to it! Thanks for the tips!

  • LeAnna said:

    I love hand me down furniture! Thankfully my husband is handy when it comes to refinishing and making the old stuff sturdy again. I whole heartedly agree that a little stain/paint can transform a piece. I LOVE faux finishing items, and it is so easy to do. Check out the tutorials at Lowes.com - it’s really not that hard.

  • Smellyann said:

    I am a big fan of “old” furniture and fixing it up! I love doing that. I’ve fixed up many a side-of-the-road find that way. Thanks!

  • Susan J said:

    I totally agree about getting things professionally cleaned. It makes such a difference! I have rented steam cleaners from wal-mart for about $20/day, and it is SO worth it to clean the carpets and furniture.

  • Jodi said:

    I love handme down items. I just recently was fortunate to receive a gorgeous quilt rack from my aunt and uncle. All it needed was a little retouching and some love, and now it is a gorgeous addition that harldy cost me anything.

  • Talina said:

    I have this old hand-me-down coffee table that has major sentimental value. I have been meaning to spruce it up somehow and was considering just painting over the old stain in an attempt to make it less dated.

    I guess it would be best to sand it down and refinish it though, keeps the charm of it but makes it look better huh? How do you sand down furniture that has intricate wood work though?

  • Storm said:

    Almost all of our furniture is hand me downs too (I think the only new furniture we’e bought are several bookcases - not even our mattress was new alas). I’ve discovered that a small carpet steamer works well on the sofa to keep it looking a little more, well, more this decade anyways. LOL Plus, the steamer comes in handy for small messes if you have carpeting.

  • Jen said:

    We dumpster dived our living room loveseat and bought a $10 green slipcover. After spraying it for fleas (I take no chances!) and febreezing the heck out of it we covered it and put a plywood piece beneath the side where the springs were broken.

    We have all handme down furniture except for our marital bed which was new when we married and a gift from my parents!

  • Andrea in Alaska said:

    We bought a couch through Craigslist for $50. It was really comfortable. Then we found a cute slip cover on sale for $29. I really am happy with it! Just about everything in our house was bought used or given as a hand-me-down. I saw one really pulled together livingroom by a girl who recovered a lamp shade and made throw pillows to match. Then she covered two futons in some neutral colored fabric. Really, the effect was stunning.

  • Genevieve Larson said:

    Thanks for this post it has given me the motivation to redo my daughters used dresser

  • Lori Z. said:

    I like to paint old furniture for the funkiness of it. But if you choose to that you need to put down a coat of Stainblocker or two to make sure there is no seeping into the paint color.

    If you opt to stain you can try some Formsby stuff where you don’t have to sand anything

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