Forum: Advice / Do It Yourself

How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By FeisForFoodmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jun 28, 2008 05:37 PM
Edited by FeisForFood (163151) on 2008-06-28 17:38:36

Now that it's summer, I'd like to redo my rooms at both my mom's and dad's houses. The thing is, at my mom's house I just have old antique furniture. My mother LOVES antiques and when I was 6 I wanted to be just like her so I loved them too. Now that I'm 17, I don't like them so much anymore. I find these particular pieces of furniture to be pretty darn ugly. Nothing personal against people who like antiques, but I just prefer newer looking furniture to older stuff.

I was wondering...besides just giving it a good polish, are there any creative ways to spruce up my old furniture so that when I redo the room with new paint and curtains and floor (hopefully I'm ripping out my carpet for the pretty hardwood underneath), it doesn't bring the old back in with the new? I'd prefer it to be fairly easy, maybe not too much stripping or staining for anything, but I'm aware that what I'm asking is quite unusual and I'm sure my mother and friends would be willing to help me if I needed it, so I'm open to any suggestions at all.

Bed/beside table, dresser, and tabley-thing. It's a desk where I have my make-up and hair brush. I want to get rid of it but my mom won't let me because she says if I do I'll wish I had it back. :P Oh, and try to ignore the weird boxes and picture frames on my floor. It's a long story. They're leaving when I redo the room.

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6 Replies to How can I make my old furniture look more modern?

re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By YoungDandymember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jun 28, 2008 07:35 PM
antique lover here... and i must say I'd LOVE to have your furniture.

The desk/vanity table thing with your makeup and hair brush... would be worth a lot of money(as would any of these pieces), and "sprucing it up" to look modern would severely decrease its value. I can't tell you enough how many beautiful pieces of antique furniture are ruined by people trying to make them look modern.

So here I propose an idea of a different sort:
Why not sell your antique furniture, and use that money to buy modern furniture more aquired to your tastes?
There is ALWAYS people interested in antique furniture, for colleting, decortating,... or even antique stores would be willing to buy from you.

If you really did want to keep them, but spruce them up a bit, you could always go for that vintage shabby-chic look, which is what I'm currently doing with my room. It invovles sanding off the finish, and roughly painting the furniture a colour such as cream, white, light green etc. It looks elegant yet "shabby" and aged at the time time, which strangely mmodernises it.

Ive seen it done well, and I've seen it done terribly.
It keeps the antique look and feel, but blends well into more modern things, as it lets you introduce more modern colours, rather than just dark and sometimes overbearing woods.

If you want I can post pictures of what I have done, or You can look up vintage shabby chic on google image search and see if you like the idea.
re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Jun 28, 2008 07:47 PM
What I like to do with antique-y furniture is surround it with contemporary pieces so that you get a lot of interest with the contrast. I think it is the clutter around your pieces that prevent them from really standing out. All three of your pieces would look great with a contemporary lamp, something metallic or Lucite with a sleek shade.

I love that tall chest-of-drawers - it almost looks Oriental. The lines are very sleek and it would look beautiful surrounded by more sleek things. Maybe replace the drawer pulls.

You could probably update that gorgeous desk by changing the fabric on the seat cushion to something contemporary - like hot pink or leopard print or something. You can replace the drawer pulls here too (but keep the old ones if that desk is a true antique - you could sell it later on.) You could have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of the desk and then put a collage of photos underneath it or even some interesting contemporary fabric.

You could paint the bedside table black - unless the wood is really good then I wouldn't touch it.

Make your color scheme really modern and plain. The wall and floor colors you choose can really have an affect on the furniture. For example, we have an office that has a black and white checkerboard floor (12" tiles) and the modern look of the floor looks awesome with the old wood furniture.

Have fun redecorating! :)
re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By dangslowmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jun 29, 2008 02:06 AM
One very very serious concern about antiques. If you decide to strip or stain any antique furniture, you risk destroying it's collectible value. We collect Eastlake Victorian furniture. We have a bedroom set that looks awesome that we got for a thousand. If it had not been refinished, it would be worth 18 times that amount. 18. Yes, Eighteen thousand.
After I bought it, I took steel wool to it to take the high gloss off the finish and it actually looks very authentic.

Anyway, on the antiques we use, we pretty much do as Young Dandy has stated. I also think that if you want to change the mood of a room, the wall color has much more of an effect than the furniture.
re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By FeisForFoodmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jun 29, 2008 09:50 AM
^ Yup, the walls are just cream-colored and I'm painting them. Not sure what colors yet.

And don't worry...there will be no stripping or staining!
re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By gottadance1303
On Sat Jul 05, 2008 09:10 PM
Edited by gottadance1303 (98892) on 2008-07-05 21:14:29 I forgot to explain myself more clearly and can't type lol
I am not too great with antiques besides what people have said about stripping and staining. One thing I thought was a kind of neat Idea ( and I have NO idea if you can do this with the desk thingy) but my mom had an older desk and she wanted to make it look more modern and coordinate it, so she took the top off and covered it with fabric that was modern and plain but was a nice contrast with the rest of the room. Basically she made a tight slip cover thing for the top of the furniture. Her desk was a dark wood too, so she got a dark brown metallic fabric to cover it with and it completely helped tie it in and was COMPLETELY reversible. Plus that way if it matches your comforters or curtains and those get changed you can change that too. It sounds kind of weird I know, but it actually worked well the way she did it. You could do the same thing with a piece of glass over the top with cloth underneath ( though that may be pricey). As for the fronts, I am not real sure. Your could maybe change the hardware? Though I don't know how much that would ruin the value or if that is even possible.
Good Luck!!
re: How can I make my old furniture look more modern?
By DejaDerangemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:31 AM
A very chic, contemporary look that's popular right now is painting antique-style furniture. The shapes are classic, but the colors are offbeat. In a lot of lofts in my city, you'll see things like an antique coffee table painted bright orange. When you pair it with sleeker, more contemporary accessories and textiles, the look can be much more modern--and without the expense of buying new.

Of course, if the value of these antiques as antiques is important, you'll have to think about it.

For the dressing table, I also have one other idea. I used to have one very similar, also antique, but something about it always seemed plain. When my mom and I were redecorating, she asked about painting it, and I didn't know what I wanted. So she painted just the top of it black. (Not like the top surface--the top panel had curved edges that extended a bit over the base of it--so she painted those edges and the underside up until the body of the vanity.) It made it ten times chicer, and the black top emphasized the interesting lines and shapes of the vanity! I'm so sad that we sold it. :( (It still fetched a great price, by the way.)



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