With a little elbow grease, creativity, and often just a can of paint, you can reinvigorate tired pieces to add fresh and fun style.
Budget Decorating Ideas: Transform Old Furniture
Cheryl Maeder-Antonio of West Palm Beach's Gardenhouse.
| Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn,

Never let empty pockets make you settle for plain-Jane furniture. Flip through magazines and catalogs for inspiration, and then find a hand-me-down or an inexpensive cast-off to update to create your own version. Who says you can't have a striped, purple chest of drawers with mirrored knobs? You have invested so little, so take a risk—DIY is always reversible! If you're not up for a total overhaul, a good cleaning and a simple paint job will go far. Even switching the knobs on a dresser or sideboard can give an instant update. Before you roll up your sleeves, make sure you have a well-built piece that will last. If you're working with wood furniture, check that it's made of solid wood. Paper veneer and particleboard are not ideal for refinishing. For upholstered items, look for heavy pieces with tight joints, a sign of quality construction.

Great Places to Find Used Furniture

  • Estate sales: Check estatesales.net to search for sales in your area.
  • Flea markets: Arrive early for the best deals.
  • Craigslist: Search easily for just what you want. Close the deal in a public place for safety. craigslist.org
  • Consignment and thrift stores: Bring your creativity, and remember to imagine the piece outside its dreary store setting.
  • Antiques malls: With booth after booth of furniture, these are gold mines for finding great-looking used pieces.

Furniture makeover specialists:

Check out a few of our favorites, right here in the South: