Looking to add something unique to your interior decor? Sure, anyone can pick up a bookshelf or dresser from IKEA or even order modern furniture on Amazon. The perks of this type of shopping are that it’ll be delivered right to your door, and you will have a generic piece of furniture in your house. Same as everyone else.
We get it! It’s a lot easier to order modern furniture online. Adding a personal touch to your home complete with unique and vintage fixtures is overwhelming and shopping for those specialty decor items is expensive!

But what if you can add something special to your interiors without breaking the bank?

Walking into an antique store can often be paralyzing. Where do you begin? You’d think that older, used, and out-of-date furniture would be less expensive. Au Contraire. Depending on the date, sentimental value, and whatever else, a simple writer’s desk can range anywhere from $200- $500- and that’s on a good day.
If your goal is to add a classic aesthetic to your home but you don’t have a bottomless wallet, then we have a solution for you. Why not DIY?

Find The Bones


Furniture shopping is seldom a breeze. Finding the perfect fixture for a given space or the right style to complete your desired looks is perhaps the hardest part about furniture shopping- whether you’re buying new or old.

Unless you happen to know an affordable interior designer whose job it is to seek these items out, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and prepare for a quest to find your dream furniture fixture.

It may sound daunting, but truth be told, great antiques are easy to find- if you are willing to search. Luckily, there are lots of ways to find cheap finds.

People tend to donate or sell unwanted items at a low cost through these avenues.


  • Garage Sales
  • Goodwill
  • Thrift Stores
  • Offer Up
  • Facebook Marketplace

Keep in mind that although the color may not be perfect, you are essentially looking for the bones of the item. If the structure fits and the measurements are good, well then, you’ve just found your hidden treasure.

The next step is to start recreating the item to match your wants and needs.

Strip It Down

Now that you’ve found your perfect piece, the first step in the transformation is to sand down to the original wood. Oftentimes, people will just paint directly on the new found piece but this is a big mistake.

When you layer multiple coats of paint, you run the risk of uneven layers of paint that crack and peel. By sanding your furniture down to the original wood, you are essentially starting with a clean slate.

Small cracks and dings will be smoothed out and the color application will be even. The exposed wood also presents a porous layer for the paint to stick to.

There are several types of sandpaper and tools that specifically remove different types of varnish and lacquers from wood.

Once you get everything smoothed out, you are ready for color.


This is an essential step and so important not to forget. It may be tempting to rush into staining or painting but without primer, all that work sanding your piece of furniture down will have been a waste of time.

We aren’t going to get into the chemistry behind watching paint dry. The fact of the matter is that primer has two major functions when it comes to paint.

1) It protects the base quality of your furniture. By adding a layer of primer before your paint, the wood is protected for future color changes. It also smoothes out any uneven surfaces that may be remaining after sanding.

2) It gives your paint an even color coating. Unfortunately, wood does not naturally form in a solid slatted color. There are several colors in every piece of wood. When you apply paint on top of a darker slate of wood, the color will appear darker than the piece next to it which may be several shades lighter. By applying an initial coat of primer, you create an even tone that allows your top coat of color to look both professional and even.

Paint or Stain

Now that your furniture is properly prepared, it’s time for the fun part! Paint and/or stains. This is your opportunity to create the furniture aesthetic you’ve been looking for.

Whether you choose a paint or a stain, the most important part of this process is making sure that your coats are even and that you allow the proper amount of time to dry.

Keep in mind that paint is going to layer on top of the wood. This is ideal for bright and solid colors.

If you are looking for a more natural look, a stain would be the best option for you. Stains sink into the wood, keeping a more vintage and antique look to your new item.

Seal the Paint In

Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, there is one final step that must not be missed! If you want your hard work to last, you must seal it with a varnish. This will help protect your work from water marks, scratches, and other external elements.

Broken Pieces?

Sometimes the perfect piece of furniture is in your grasp but it is bent, broken or in need of some extra attention. Do not fret! Our restoration experts at McDowells specialize in mending broken furniture.

(208) 378-1530