Home Improvement

Giving Discarded Furniture New Life

I have a guilty pleasure.

It’s not half as exciting as it sounds.

I mentioned in an earlier article that I have an addiction to stalking curbsides on garbage day for discarded furniture but I didn’t really share my treasure trove of makeovers.  So indulge me while I share some of my beloved repertoire, in no specific order of course because a mama can’t pick favourites!


Unfortunately, I don’t always remember to take before and after pictures so the above collage of blood, sweat and tears isn’t totally inclusive, but you get the point.

So let’s say you have a neglected piece that’s been bathing in its own dust in the attic for longer then you’d like to admit or you’re inspired to head out to a local garage sale and find your diamond in the rough.  You’re in luck, I have another guilty pleasure…bossing people around.

So here’s what you need to do:


1.     Try not to spend a lot on pieces you want refinish.

I find most of mine on Kijiji (don’t forget to check the free stuff).  My greatest pleasure though is when I find a discarded gem curbside on garbage night.  I will actually “kill two birds with one stone” and go for a run on garbage night.  It’s motivation to go that extra mile, I like to call it speed shopping.

2.     Use caution!

Buying off of sites like Kijjij and Craiglist are usually a great experience but always remember to ask questions and trust your instincts. If your inner voice is telling you to walk, walk away.  I once purchased two used chairs from Kijiji that the owner insisted were in perfect condition.  Trusting the seller I sent my husband to pick them up on my behalf.  What he brought home was in such disrepair they actually ended up on my curb (the horror!!).  I tried going back to the seller to express my disappointment and I even went as far as to report the seller.  Neither action amounted to anything.  So let me have learned two valuable lessons on your behalf; a) always pick up in daylight and thoroughly inspect the item for defects and b) never trust your spouse to be your quality control!

*sorry hubs but that was some major slack action.

3.     Negotiate with respect.

We all want the best price so it makes sense to ask the seller if the price is firm but if the seller is not interested or willing to drop the price then respect that.  I’ve been on the receiving end of a hostile negotiator and it’s extremely unpleasant.

4.     Check measurements

If the ad you are looking at doesn’t have dimensions; be sure to ask.  Also, make sure your vehicle is large enough and space is cleared to safely transport your purchase.  There is nothing worse than finding out the deal you just nabbed will not fit in your hatchback.  On the other side of the equation it’s super inconvenient when a buyer shows up with a two-door expecting to fit an armor in the backseat.  I once had to stand outside in the cold for 45 minutes helping a woman rearrange her junk filled trunk and teach her how to stow her seats to accommodate a table.  Not cool.


Recycling goods by posting and purchasing them on Free Classified sites is such a resourceful way to furnish your home, create a hobby or clean out the attic but it comes with its setbacks.

I once had a lady show up for an item I had listed who asked me if she could come inside and use my phone.  I was alarmed by such an odd request and told her I didn’t have a phone (I actually don’t have a landline).  I thought it was a scheme to get into my home.  It turned out she had somehow locked herself out of her car and her feline companion was a little distraught.  Yes, you heard me correctly!

So if you’re looking for other options for an inexpensive furniture project, minus the hassle, places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village and other thrift shops are a great place to start.  The downside is that the prices are usually a little higher and your ability to negotiate isn’t as likely.  Keep in mind that on the other hand you won’t have to spend two hours negotiating a hanger through a car window trying to recoup the cat lady’s keys from her front seat (no offence, wherever you are).

images (2)

I find the hunt as exciting as the actual process of refinishing the piece.  From searching online for the colour that will inspire me to buffing the final coat, it’s such a therapeutic experience.  My latest piece was this dresser that I found curbside heading home from a coffee run (like taking candy from a baby).  I am so proud of the final product.

dresser - renfrew blue before 2



Seeing a before and after like this makes me giddy!

dresser - renfrew blue.jpg



Using Fusion Mineral Paint to refinish furniture is an absolute breeze, not a lot of prep work is required.  A quick sanding followed by a thorough cleaning was all it took to prepare this damsel in distress.  I used four coats of Renfrew Blue, sanding lightly and buffing in between each coat.     The hardware popped against this beautiful blue so I was able to preserve them.  I love the personality a vibrant colour can give a once abandoned piece.  Once the paint had settled I ended up lightly distressing the body of the dresser.

For the top of the dresser I decided to do it in a dark walnut and topcoat with 3 layers of polyurethane.   Honestly, I’m in love.

The presence of the dresser inspired me to revamp my entire bedroom with a fresh coat of paint and some artwork.  Now I literally can’t wait to plunk down at night and appreciate how much happiness a bit of work can bring you.

I’m such a simple gal!

On a side note, did you know that painting is used as a form of meditation?  Meditation is known to lower stress levels, decrease anxiety and support longevity.

So you could say painting is good for health!  You could even go so far as to say I just saved your life.  You’re welcome!

Let me know what your inspiration is.  Share your before and afters, I’d love to hear from you!



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