Upgrade Your Old Furniture in Minutes (Free!)

All of our furniture is from one of three places: 1) a dumpster or curb, 2) a thrift store, 3) some other person’s castaway pile. In a perfect world my house would look much different than it does, with much better furniture (though I’m still happy with castaways and thrifty finds), and I would not spend half of my day arguing with Benjamin about food, but who lives in such a world?


When we bought our house two years ago, we purchased from the estate of the original owner since 1964, and they left many of the big pieces of furniture in the house. Don’t get excited. Most were ugly, except the old sewing machine and the heavy Duncan Phyfe dining room table I almost sold unintentionally at the garage sale, but didn’t, because I lost the potential buyer's phone number in the mess. And yet, even the ugly pieces were better than what we’d already collected elsewhere, many of which are still collecting dust on our porch. (Please commence with the “you know you’re a ______” jokes whenever you feel the urge).

I won’t get started on needing a marriage ref to negotiate our trashy furniture; that deserves its own novel. A novel, mind you, none of you would read because it would exhaust you by the end of chapter one with disgust, because it reminded you too much of your own dysfunctional marriages and you’d cry yourself to Ikea. The main point of agreement is that neither of us are happy with the current state of affairs, though we’re just never quite in sync with what to do about it. But, there is a reason I’m telling this story, and yes, it’s about updating old furniture.

Charlie, le petit pooch, was constantly rolling his balls under the living room couch, which had a skirt that touched the carpet. He’d scratch at it attempting to get at the balls, which ripped the flaps, but did nothing to locate his prize. Charlie is not one to turn his attention to a new ball if the one he was playing with is lost and he was slightly too big to scoot under the couch. In frustration, Kevin finally decided to remove the skirt.

The result was a mini-makeover that we both like. Our living room is dark and removing the skirt allowed light to pass under the couch, which makes a huge difference in how bright the room looks. Also, it’s now easier for Charlie’s people to locate his balls! You can see the before shot of the sofa above—it’s the one where Benjamin is reading.

We then did the same thing to my chair in the bedroom. There is a slightly brighter rim around the bottom where the fabric maintained its original color, and that’s okay. I think the imperfection adds a sharpness to the edge, defining it. And, something Kevin and I both hate about our house is how dark it is, so the bright edge on the chair is barely noticeable in this cave.

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How did we do this free makeover? We turned the chair or sofa upside down and started prying the skirt up at the corner. To do it yourself, you’ll need a screw driver and a pair of pliers and it’s as simple as it sounds. It took Kevin an hour to do the sofa and about 20 minutes to do the chair. 


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