/ / / How-to Give New Life to Old Furniture

How-to Give New Life to Old Furniture

Upcycling furniture is such a great and affordable idea. Find an old piece of furniture and give it new life!

If you’ve been on my blog before, my go to fix and makeover for ANYTHING is paint! Of course a big part of upcycling furniture is to paint it a new color. An old china cabinet I purchased at a consignment shop 20 years ago needed an update and I painted it of course! 

Not only is it a china cabinet, but there is this little hidden gem of a feature I’ve never used and ignored – a desk INSIDE of a drawer! It was time to give this old piece of furniture new life all these years later.

China Cabinet in Coral

Originally, I purchased this piece as a china cabinet and used it in my dining room. Here is a picture from Christmas 2009.

However, when I moved 9 years ago I downsized and decided to paint the interior blue and use it in my family room as a combo piece! I wish I didn’t consign that RUG!

My Old Furniture Gets New Life – Many Times!

To show you what I had in mind for this makeover, here is a picture as it was before I got started. The top drawer opens and a desktop drops down.  Inside there are these great little shelves and a mini drawer. It ends up acting like a mini secretary desk.

It’s hard to believe the desk area was the original color! A deep dark mahogany stain. Funny story, the night I was moving from Greensboro to Charlotte (following my divorce) I was sitting in my house with everything packed at night, no tv, no child at home, and BORED! 

old piece of furniture before upcycling

I don’t sit still well and needed to entertain myself. The primer wasn’t packed in boxes and apparently I found a paint brush too. What did I do the night before the movers showed up? I primed this piece of furniture. I’m nuts I know! Guess I forgot there was a desk inside that drawer and left it stained. 

What is funny is it sat primed for a year in the new house. It kind of looked antiqued with the primer 🙂 Eventually I painted it white and antiqued with a brown wash like you see it today. 

More Furniture Upcycling Ideas

For years, I’ve always wished I had a desk (other than my kitchen island or sofa) downstairs. My ideas were pretty extravagant on how to add a desk (like in my coat closet) totally forgetting I had one hiding in the cabinet all along! 

It was time to paint and USE that desk area! There is a great chair I could turn around and use anytime to sit at the desk. What a CHEAP way to add a desk to my family room, YAY!

Project Time

With a little bit of paint, leftover marble contact paper, and some white craft paper I set out to refresh this cabinet!

  1. Paint the inside of the desk with chalk paint
  2. Line the shelves with leftover marble contact paper
  3. Wrap the old books in white paper and unify the whole look behind the doors

In just a few steps and for very little money, I’ve breathed new life into this old furniture! This turned into a blog post series, so I’ve linked those projects above or a related project with how-to information.

woman painting with annie sloan chalk paint in paris grey

apply marble contact paper to shelves

paper back books with binding removed in book case

China Cabinet, Bookcase, and Desk All-in-One

Are you ready for the reveal? Well guess what, I changed my mind on the desk color! The original Annie Sloan chalk paint I purchased looked GRAY in the sample pot and was named Paris Grey. Nope, it was BLUE and competed with the blue inside of the cabinets.

Instead, I choose a color that would highlight the neutrals in the room and re-painted the desk area to Annie Sloan Country Grey and am much happier! It was easy to add another coat of chalk paint – a 15 minute project!


Here you can see how the color of the desk blends with the rest of the family room decor. Plus see how easy it is to just rotate that beautiful blue french chair around to sit at the desk 🙂


The bookcase / cabinet has been completely transformed by wrapping the books! I added nothing to the cabinet and only updated the books. Crazy what unifying colors will do to the visual impact!

I did edit out a couple of picture frames, but that was it. An $8 roll of paper and an hour fixed those books right up.


Now the desk area is being used for holiday napkins, name cards and tags, name placeholders, thank you cards, and even mini salt and pepper shakers. I can sit comfortably at the desk with my laptop, but that didn’t make for a pretty picture!

This is a much better use of space and now organizes all of the those little odds and ends I had tucked in places I could never find.


I can kick off my shoes after a long day at work and settle in with my catalogs, decorating books, and make plans for my next decorating project. Even Mick loves the new space and snuggled in for the photo op!

Mick Resting on the chair


New Life to Old Furniture

Let’s revisit the before and the full effect of the after. Upcycling the desk area to be useful and useable has been one of my favorite projects! What an easy and inexpensive update to complete. 

old piece of furniture before upcycling

The cabinet looks like a NEW piece with the X mullions that are so on trend right now. Plus that bow front glass will always be beautiful in any century. 


A little paint, paper, and creativity goes a long way when you want to breathe new life into old furniture. Are you now dreaming of a new project? I hope I’ve planted that inspiration seed and can’t wait to see what you come up with at your home!

Paint Colors

Wall Paint: Valspar Malted Milk 7003-9

Cabinet Outer: Valspar Swiss Coffee 7002-16, with a custom brown glaze

Inner Cabinet: Valspar Feeling Blue CI 13

Desk: Annie Sloan Country Grey

Shop the Look

Want to see more paint project inspiration from around my home? CLICK HERE.

Please consider signing up for my weekly email newsletter so you never miss a post or follow along on my Porch Daydreamer Instagram account for daily photos of my home. 

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer



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