Decoration March 5, 2020

A lick of paint and a little love

When does old become antique? When you single it out and put it in the spotlight of a little loving care!


kitchen island

Your prep area doesn’t need to be purpose-built. An old desk that’s been cleaned, painted, and covered with a wipeable surface can be transformed into your own designer island. You can even line and adapt the drawers for kitchen storage.


Kitchen cabinet DIY

The structural strength required for kitchen cabinets may be beyond our carpentry skills, but you can buy IKEA frames without doors and drawer fronts. For an original and rustic look, make fronts from reclaimed wood like planks from an old barn.


Cabinet creativity

Even if you’re going for a new custom kitchen, don’t discard those old cabinets! One double cabinet, painted and topped with a fabric-covered cushion, makes a great window or wall seat for a bedroom: lots of lovely storage, too!


Tiered kitchen storage

Remember the old office metal in/out trays that stack on top of each other? Paint one in your kitchen highlight color and then use it as a tidy for vegetables, napkins, or tea towels.


Cooking with color

Brighten your everyday cooking experience by painting old, discolored wooden spoons with your kitchen highlight color. Be sure to coat them in food-safe shellac. Do the same for old-fashioned wooden fruit bowls for a new slant on a modern kitchen.


Refresh dining chairs

Classic wooden dining chairs with an upholstered seat no longer look up-to-date. Transform a set of chairs with a sand-down to smooth away old varnish, then add two coats of bright mustard yellow paint and some zebra stripe fabric. Magic!


Stencil a dresser

Give a treasured old dresser, great for storage space but dowdy to look at, a DIY makeover with white or pastel paint, a contrasting color top, and the same color in stenciled patterns on the drawer fronts, plus new handles.


TV table transformation

Dull media carts and TV tables are easy to find, maybe as close as your garage. Take a design decision on color and toning wallpaper; paint the woodwork and face the door front with the wallpaper for a fresh new look for a bedside stand or hall storage.


Rescue a vanity

Our grandparents’ vanity dressing tables were all the fashion, and most still have a lovely silhouette. Take the plunge and remove the mirror top altogether! Refurbish with silk-finish pastel paint and presto: a teenager’s desk or quirky kitchen storage.

TIP 10

Don’t hoard rubbish

Don’t let the delights of creative upcycling blind you to the fact that hoarding junk is a bad idea! One piece, lovingly restored and repurposed in your home is one thing. A garage full of junk is still a no-no.


  • Freshening up old wooden furniture is a quick, fun, and satisfying DIY project. Remember to sand down, dust, and apply two thin coats for a lovely finish.
  • You don’t have to keep that old piece of furniture intact! Learn to look at it as an assemblage of building blocks for something new.

Get tips from our magazine