Painted folding screens

Reversible Folding Screen

Who would guess that the polished reversible screen at left is made from unfinished bifold doors (about $70 a pair) from a home improvement store? To make the screen more versatile, finish one side with a colorful paint treatment, and cover the other in a textured fabric such as burlap or linen.

Because the screen is made of wood, consider using a semigloss or high-gloss paint, and select a three-color palette. This screen is trimmed in white to blend with the wood trim in the room. Other coordinating shades highlight the panels.

Chest of drawers

Antique New Pine Furniture

Piece looking too new? Sometimes it's good to pound on the furniture.

A new piece of pine furniture doesn't offer the charm of an antique. Inevitable scrapes and dents give character to old pine, but new pine can be aged easily by distressing it and applying a special glaze. You can find inexpensive new pine furniture at unfinished furniture stores, as well as some home-supply stores.

To begin the distressing, gather a variety of household tools. Use a hammer (gently) to make indentions and tap a bradawl (or hammer a nail) into the wood in tight clusters to simulate worm holes. A craft knife can be used to make scratches and chip away little pieces of wood along the edges. Use a screwdriver to add dents. You can also hit the wood with a chain to make a string of indentions.

Blue dresser of drawers

Dress Up a Dresser With Color

If you can handle sandpaper and a paintbrush, even dumpy hand-me-downs are simple to refinish.

Everybody has one: A hand-me-down piece of furniture that, frankly, you'd love to hand back. But before you toss it or pass it on to someone else, give the item one last look. If it's a solid piece with nothing wrong structurally, you'll be amazed at how far a little cosmetic work will go. Pick out new paint and new hardware, add elbow grease, and that once-worthless chest of drawers can become something stunning to add to your room -- instead of something you hide in the attic.

Topiary table

A Topiary Turns into a Table

Keep your eyes peeled for pieces that can be refinished and adapted from their original uses.

Have you ever admired an elegant urn at a garden center, only to discover that it was made not of metal or stone but of fiberglass? These containers are so attractive and affordable that you'll want to use them indoors as well.

Create an affordable accent table by combining a fiberglass urn with an inexpensive, 42-inch-diameter wooden top from a home-improvement store. Adding weight to the urn by inserting a concrete block or bag of sand is optional. Give the wooden top a personalized finish with stencils and paint; we recommend first experimenting on a scrap piece of plywood. You can get as creative with the paints and glaze as you wish, using any of the acrylics to tint the metallic glaze. Experiment with different brushes or crumpled rags to add texture.

Antique Looking Mirror

Antique-Looking Mirrors

Create the allure of an antique mirror without the cost.

Next time you wander through an antiques store, check the prices on old mirrors. You'll probably find that they are very expensive. If you look closely, you will also notice that many of the larger mirrors contain two or more pieces of glass. That's because when these mirrors were made, technology limited their size. If you wanted a larger one, you had to use more than one piece of glass.

This project shows you how to create a classic, antique-looking mirror, and best of all, you can do it for a fraction of the cost you might expect to pay at a salvage shop.


Custom Lampshades

Simple freshening touches put vintage lamps in a new light.

Vintage lamps, easily found at flea markets, antique stores, and even in grandmothers' attics, can become new again. Attach fabric to old or inexpensive paper shades for a quick and easy project. Or use basic hand-sewing skills to gather a skirt of fabric to camouflage a plain shade.

Kitchen cabinets

Brighten Dull Cabinets

Who says cabinets have to be white? Brighten your space with touches of color.

When you think about it, there isn't much wallspace in a kitchen full of cabinets. So if you want a colorful room, you'll have to look to the cabinets as the source. To avoid a busy look, pair strong hues with black accents to create a crisp and clean contrast.

If you are considering a bold paint color, make sure it's one you love. Everyone has a favorite color. Just look in your closet; it's probably a shade you wear often. Then head to your paint store to have them mix a custom hue to match your favorite.

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