Repurposing is a fantastic way to conserve! Reduce waste. Save money. Use environmentally-friendly materials to further your repurposing efforts. Work with a piece that you already own or purchase a second-hand piece from Habitat Restore, Goodwill, second-hand store or consignment shop. You can save money and perhaps support a worthy cause.
It is important to begin with a well-designed piece of furniture or one that has good design potential. Is it in good condition? Make sure that there are no signs of rot or decay by checking for disintegrating wood fibers. Can the piece be easily tightened and repaired?
Does the piece need physical enhancing? Is it necessary to add an appliqué, crown molding, legs, feet, or columns? All of these items are available online and in local lumber stores. Reclaimed items can also be found online.
When updating hardware, measure center-to-center of holes for changing handles. Hinges generally peel when painted from the constant open-close motion. If the doors are at least ¾ inch thick, hidden hinges can be used. This allows enough depth for routing on the inside. If the piece is older in style, a butterfly style hinge looks well.
If the item needs reupholstering, make sure that it fits your budget. Consider the cost of labor and fabric. Earth-friendly fabrics and filler are available online and in some local fabric stores.
Be conservative when choosing your color and finish. The color should reflect items in your design space and adjoining rooms. The finish should also connect with elements in your design space. Remember that contrast makes the piece of furniture stand out, while a subtle color will blend it in. Decide carefully what your space needs visually.
When preparing your piece of furniture, sand with the grain using 220 grit sandpaper to lightly score the surface. Wear gloves, mask and eye protection. Do not wear contact lenses when sanding. If the cabinet interiors are in good shape it is not necessary to refinish them.
Casein (milk-based) paint is excellent for furniture. It dries quickly, sands beautifully, and has a natural, matte finish. One can also use a good quality clay, soy or acrylic paint for a water clean-up. Latex paint is not recommended for furniture as it rolls up when sanded. When using casein, the first coat needs to contain bonding medium. For clay, soy or acrylic, begin with a good quality primer.
Allow for dry time between coats. Remember to sand between each coat with 400 grit sandpaper, sanding with the grain. For an antiqued look, sand the edges and corners bare and use a thin antiquing glaze especially in the crevices. Finish with beeswax to seal the finish and add a patina. Buff w/ a soft rag or chamois cloth. It is not necessary to seal a casein paint finish. Enjoy your beautifully repurposed furniture!
All the best in your green decorating endeavors!