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If you think you can’t afford that lovely furniture you see featured in decorating magazines, you are wrong! Look in your local thrift shop or second hand store! You can find many “ugly ducklings” that you can turn into “swans” with a little effort and imagination.
To turn your thrift shop trash into Martha Stewart treasure:

1. Look for a piece with good “bones.” If a piece has nice lines and/or quality construction, you can do wonders with it!

2. A piece made of particle board is probably not going to be worth the trouble of refinishing. Try to find a piece made of real, honest-to-goodness wood!

3. If the finish of your new find has seen better days, sand the piece lightly before you paint. You can try new faux finishes to make the piece distinctive. Or you may try an “antique” finish, decoupage or make your own embellishments (dots, squiggles, stripes, etc.)! Be creative!

4. If you find a table that has great legs but a dreadful top, have a mirror cut which can cover the entire top. Or cover the entire table top with postcards, greeting cars, picture of your family, pictures of flowers or other colorful photos. Have a clear glass top made to place over the photos or cards. Voila! A colorful and personalized table!

5. You can also hide a marred table top with ceramic tile. Simply place the tile of your choice in a mosaic pattern over the entire top. Place a strip of molding around the edge to keep them in place. Then apply grout between the tiles. Let dry and wipe the grout “haze” with a clean cloth.

6. Cover the worn upholstery of a thrift shop sofa with a quilt or make a large throw by sewing 4 purchased afghans together in a large patchwork. Hold the afghan in place with pins or tack at strategic places with a needle and thread.

7. Are the arms of the sofa or chair soiled? Find pretty table runners to match your room, then place them on the arms. Pin or tack in place.

8. You can apply decorative trims to hide imperfections. Nailheads, braid or other trims are available at any hobby or fabric store. You can use glue or staples to hold them in place.

9. Most dining room chairs can be easily upholstered by removing the seat. Place the seat on the new fabric you have chosen and trace around the edges adding at least 2 inches extra to the edge. Staple the fabric to the seat. Be sure you place the staples on the bottom of the chair where they will be hidden!

10. Never underestimate the beauty of a new slipcover. You can hide a multitude of sins on a sofa with good lines by purchasing a new slipcover in a wonderful fabric. Add a couple of colorful pillows and you have a whole new look!

There you have it! New living room, dining room or bedroom furniture and for a fraction of the price of new! Wouldn’t that make Martha proud?

About the Author
P Harris,
[email protected]
Pamela Cole Harris is an editor and writer with 35 years experience. Her interest in do-it-yourself projects dates from the time she helped her father, who was a builder, work on new homes after school. She and her new husband live in a log cabin on a lake in Oklahoma. You can e-mail Pamela at [email protected].

2,661 Posts
This is fantastic Sara! I always look at hte furniture in our thrift shops, unfortunately they thing a card board dresser is a treasure!
I have in mind some pieces i want or need for the house and I look at yard sales and such for them, I have several I plan to redo as it is, just need th right stuff to do the job!
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