How to Make a Cheap DIY Pillow Insert

So, I've mentioned before how overpriced I think throw pillows are. They don't do anything!! How can they be worth $20? My typical response to overpriced home products is to make my own... but have you searched pillow inserts on Amazon lately? The very cheapest ones start at $5 a piece. Between that, fabric, and embellishments, DIY throw pillows start to approach store-bought price, at which point, why are we DIYing it?

My solution? Use old throw pillows as pillow inserts. And if the old pillows aren't the right size, make DIY pillow inserts from the stuffing inside the old pillows! If you don't have any old pillows sitting around, check your favorite thrift store. They typically have a robust selection at reasonable prices; I typically pay between $0.50- $1.50 per throw pillow. It's easy, cheap, and looks great!

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

DIY Pillow Insert: Materials
  • Scrap Fabric- I used leftover canvas dropcloths (from my couch recover) for the fabric of my DIY pillow insert. They were bleached, but that probably isn't necessary since the fabric will be covered up.
  • Old Pillows- As mentioned above, I grab mine from my favorite thrift store for $.50-$1.50 a piece.
  • Sewing Machine and Thread
Get Started!

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DIY Pillow Insert: Process
Step 1: Wash Old Pillow

Thrift store pillows are gross. Wash it. I even wash the ones that say dry clean only. Haven't had an issue yet.

Step 2: Cut Fabric

I made the length of my fabric 1"  more than what I wanted my finished pillow length to be. This is to account for the depth of the pillow after stuffing is added.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

The width of the pillow was two times the finished width of the pillow (plus an extra inch for depth.) This is because I'll fold the fabric over so there is one less side to sew.

Step 3: Fold and Pin Fabric

I folded the fabric in half, and pinned two sides in place using straight pins. It's unnecessary to pin the third side- it won't get sewn. That side needs to be open in order to stuff the pillow insert.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor
Step 3: Sew the Two Sides

I used a matching thread to sew the sides in place, although I suppose that's unnecessary since the insert won't be seen.

To sew the corner, simply lift up the presser foot and turn the fabric, leaving the needle embedded in the fabric. Lower the presser foot, and continue sewing as normal.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

Once I'd finished sewing, I turned the insert inside out, so that the stitches were on the inside of the DIY pillow insert. This step isn't really necessary, since the pillow insert won't be seen (and therefore the stitches could be on the outside,) but I did it anyway, so I thought I'd mention it.

Step 4: Stuff Pillow

Cut the old pillow open:

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

And transfer the fluff.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

I tend to break it apart with my fingers as I go so there aren't any huge lumps, but that's probably a preference thing!

How much you stuff the pillow insert is also probably a preference thing; I tend to over stuff my pillows! I did have some fluff leftover- I saved it for my next pillow!

Step 5: Pin and Sew Closed

I didn't want the loose threads to unravel, so I folded the edges in while I was pinning. Once again, this is probably unnecessary since the insert won't be seen.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

Then I shoved my pillow insert under the sewing machine, and sewed it shut.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

Sewing the stuffed pillow is a little tricky, but I use one hand to guide the fabric, and the other hand to compress the pillow near the needle. It works well enough.

Then I had a pillow insert!

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

I, of course, didn't leave it this way, but made a cover for it as well!

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

And yes, as you could probably guess, I have a preferred way to make a pillow cover. And secret tip? Search the fabric remnant section. Many decor fabrics can be found for a bargain, and there's typically enough fabric for a small pillow or two!

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

I made DIY pillow inserts for the pillows on my couch too! They look great as well! In this case, I used multiple pillows in order to create a larger pillow insert.

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

It's so easy to turn thrift store pillows into custom-sized pillow inserts! 10 minutes of effort, really! If you think you might want custom pillow inserts some day, go ahead and save this to post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!

Think throw pillows are expensive? Make your own with these easy and cheap DIY Pillow Inserts! #DIYDecor

DIY Standing Lamp (From a Teapot!)

I've known for awhile that my living room (full reveal out now!) had a lighting problem. There was exactly one light in the room, the one in the ceiling fan. At night the room was dim and yellow, and honestly made me feel like I was about to be murdered. Clearly, more lights were needed.

I knew I wanted a standing lamp to go on one side of the couch. But I dithered for quite awhile about exactly what that lamp should look like. I left on a trip up to our Wisconsin cabin, hoping to find something there that would inspire me. I was in luck.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

I found this ratty looking teapot on top of a cabinet. It'd clearly seen better days, but I was convinced I could make it into a pretty cool DIY standing lamp (or more specifically, lampshade!)

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

Materials
  • Two 2" x 2" x 8' Furring Strips- For lamp stand. Furring strips are pretty gnarly, but if you dig through the pile and find two straight ones, then you'll save a lot of money versus buying prime pine/oak/poplar. Give them a heavy sanding once you get them home, and they'll be good to go!
  • Lamp Making Adapter Kit- For wiring the light.
  • 2 1/2" Wood Screws- For building the base
  • 1/4" Bolt (3" long), Wing Nut, and Washer- For creating the adjustable height. 
  • 8 Washers- These are to help support the screws in the base. The hole in the center needs to be slightly larger than the 2 1/2" screws you purchase.
  • Teapot- You've got a 100 year old aluminum teapot sitting around, right?
  • Barkeepers Friend- For cleaning the teapot.
  • 9001 Glue- For securing the teapot in place.
  • Craft Cording- 10 yards of 9/32" cord covered a little less than four feet of lamp cord.
Get Started!

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Part 1: Build the Base
Step 1: Cut the Pieces

After a thorough sanding job, I cut one of the 2" x 2" x 8' furring strips to be 70" long. I set the other 26" piece aside to be used later. It will ultimately be the arm of the DIY standing lamp.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then I drilled a a 1/4" hole in the middle of the board five or six inches from the top. This will be for the 1/4" bolt to secure the arm of the standing lamp in place. I eyeballed the placement of this based on what I thought looked good.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then I took the other 2" x 2" x 8' (not the leftover small piece) and cut four pieces to be 18" long. At this point, my pieces look like this:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Step 2: Assemble the Base

Then I took one of the 18" pieces and screwed it to the bottom of the 70" piece, adding a washing for security. See photo below.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

A couple tips for this: 

  • Make sure you're working on the right end of the 70" piece, aka the end without the hole.
  • To keep the top piece level while you attach it, place one of the 18" pieces underneath the other end.

Then I turned the structure 90 degrees and repeated the process. At that point, I had two 18" pieces attached to the 70" piece. For extra security, I wanted to attach those two pieces to each other, so I took the base over to the workbench and clamped it:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then added a new screw that connected the two 18" pieces.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then I added the third and fourth 18" pieces, alternating between the floor and workbench as necessary, making sure two screws went into each piece.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

The photo below is of the setup for the fourth piece. I put both screws in at the same time after setting this up:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Step 3: Prep and Attach Arm

That 26" piece that you set aside in Step 1- it's back! Drill a 1/4" hole 5-6" down from one end, once again eyeballing to see what you think looks good. This is for the bolt that will connect the piece to the rest of the base.

On the other end, a few inches down from the top, drill a 3/4" hole with a spade bit. This hole should not be on the same sides as the bolt hole, but be perpendicular to the bolt hole. I didn't take a picture of the holes themselves, but I did label a photo of the arm connected to the base, which might help.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then thread the 3" bolt through the corresponding holes on the 70" and 26" pieces, adding the washer and nut once the bolt is through the holes. Decide the height of your DIY standing lamp, and tighten the nut in place. Then the base is done!

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Part 2: Prepare the Teapot
Step 1: Wash the Teapot

My teapot was tinted reddish from the iron in the water at our cabin, so the first thing I did was give it a thorough scrubbing with The Barkeeper's Friend. It removed all of the rust, but of course, didn't do anything about the scratches and dents. I was okay with that.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

As a side note, it was important to scrub the teapot before doing the next step. Cutting off the base of the teapot will make it less stable and therefore more likely to be damaged/crushed if scrubbed too hard.

Step 2: Cut Bottom Off Teapot

Since my dad has more experience cutting with an angle grinder (and I wanted a smooth cut,) I let him do this part while I photographed. We strapped the teapot to the workbench with ratchet straps:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then cut the bottom off with an angle grinder.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Safety gear, especially eye protection, is important here. The little bits of metal flying off the teapot are tiny, and could easily get in an eye.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Eventually, the bottom was gone, and all that remained was the iron-deposited inside. (Not rust, apparently. Aluminum doesn't rust.)

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Step 3: Smooth Cut

At this point, the edge of the aluminum is sharp enough to cut, and needs to be smoothed out. I started with a metal file to smooth the most jagged sections. I identified which parts needed smoothing below:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

After the obvious uneven parts had been smoothed out, I was left with a bumpy, rough edge.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

A little bit of 80 grit sandpaper did a quick job smoothing that out.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Step 4: Prep Teapot for Wire

Using a really small drill bit, I drilled a hole through the nail holding the wooden green top in place. This popped the top right off. Then I slowly enlarged the hole that was left with larger and larger drill bits until I had a hole that was 1/4" large.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then I grabbed the green wooden top thing:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

And enlarged the whole just enough so that the threaded hollow piece that came in the lamp making kit could screw into the hole:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then I put the threaded bit through the hole in the top of the teapot, and secured it in place with a white adapter and socket base from the Lamp Making Kit.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Finally, I glued the top of the teapot to the bottom using using 9001 Glue. This stuff is strong. While I didn't plan for it to entirely hold the weight of the teapot, it totally could if necessary.

Part 3: Finish (Optional)
Step 1: Stain Base

I tested three or four different stains I had on one of the leftover pieces of 2" x 2", and decided to go with the Minwax's Early American on the base of the DIY Standing Lamp. I usually use wood conditioner on the cheap woods, but after testing on my scrap piece, I decided go without this time. 

I always test my stains before starting. Always. It's my number one secret to getting the perfect look on my projects!

Step 2: Embellish Lamp Cord

Vintage Revivals added some macrame to a lamp cord awhile back, and I thought that would look excellent wrapped around my light stand, so I went ahead and followed her tutorial to add the look to my cord. She gives great instructions, so I'm not going to repeat them here, but if you like the thick, chunky look of my lamp cord, go check out her post!

Part 4: Assemble
Step 1: Secure Cord and Teapot

I threaded the cord through the 3/4" hole on the arm of the stand, around the handle of the teapot, and through the hole in the top of the teapot.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

As you can probably tell, I lowered the arm of the stand so that I could rest the teapot on a table while I worked.

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting
Step 2: Wire Light Socket

I mostly followed the instructions in the lamp kit. It started by having me tie the cord parts in a knot:

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Then wrap each wire around corresponding screws in the light socket. It does matter which wire goes to which screw, so read carefully!

Then my DIY standing lamp was done!

Final Photographs

I love it! The teapot adds character, plus it's been awesome having a reading light for the couch!

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

I also think the old style teapot fits right in with the aged look of some of the furniture!

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

I might ultimately add even more lights, but I think this is a good start!

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Like it too? Make sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again!

This DIY standing lamp made from an old teapot and some wood was simple to put together and looks fantastic! Easy DIY floor lamp to make in a weekend! #DIYLighting

Before and After: Living Room Reveal

I have news: The living room is finally, officially done! I'm been participating in the One Room Challenge throughout this remodel, so if you're interested in the full progression, go check out Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5!

As a quick recap, the living room originally looked like this:

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

It basically functioned as a workroom for small upstairs projects. As convenient as that was, I wanted a real living room.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

And now I have one!!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

Big difference, right? It can actually function as a real room, now!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal
This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

The Projects

So, I have to admit that I had a severe hatred of the wall color of the original living room. It's a very unoffensive cream, but it's the exact same cream tinting my kitchen remodel a strange yellow, and so therefore, I hate it. It had to go. I debated for awhile about what to do instead, but eventually took a leap and decided on a crazy "slap burlap on the walls" idea I had. Honestly, this decision was primarily based on laziness - I was tired of painting. But I'm so glad I went for it. It looks great.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

Pretty much simultaneously I added vertical shiplap wainscoting around the room and painted the brass fireplace insert black. This actually all happened before the One Room Challenge started, which while I feel was a bit cheat-y, was probably for the best. There is absolutely no way I could have finished those three things and all of the furniture by myself in the six week period.

The Furniture

I actually didn't purchase a single piece of brand new furniture for this remodel. Everything was either picked up from a thrift store, built from scratch, or something I already had. Thus, the bulk of the six week time period consisted of me refinishing furniture to fit the new space.

I started with the couch. It was actually purchased by my parents as a birthday gift for me when I was in college. Eight years later, it needed a little love. I "reupholstered" it with some bleached drop cloths, and now that everything is done, I adore how it looks! Click here to see the full couch transformation.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

For a bit of time, I thought the coffee table purchase was a major mistake. I picked it up for $15 at the thrift store, only to get it home and realize it was laminate. But... I managed to save it, and add some secret storage! I love it, and am so glad I accidentally picked it up!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

I'm also obsessed with the antique chair I picked up for $35. When I took it home, the wood was super dark and the fabric was dark and dirty. The chair looks so much better with new fabric and a quick wood refinish job. It's actually really comfortable, and was my dad's favorite chair when he was here last week. Clearly a good sign.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

I grabbed the grandfather clock the same day I picked up the chair. I was super nervous to complete this project; people have opinions about grandfather clocks. But this one A) didn't work, and B) was largely made of particleboard, so I tried not to feel too bad. Regardless, the refinished version fits the living room so well, I don't feel at all bad about stripping the "fine finish" it originally came with.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

The standing teapot lamp was a quick project that I completed when I was in Wisconsin helping my dad open up our summer cabin. I found the teapot sitting around up there, and after getting permission to turn it into a lampshade, competed the project in a couple days. The full tutorial isn't quite up yet, but stay tuned- it should be up soon!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

Finally, the biggest, most expensive, and most labor intensive project was saved for last. This past week, I built that giant cabinet in the corner.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

The cabinet is giant for a reason... it has a secret.

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

Yeah. It houses a TV. The TV Lift Cabinet was by far the biggest furniture project I've ever done, and I am so pleased with how it turned out! And I love that I was able to avoid putting the TV over the fireplace, which was seriously considered for quite awhile. I'm also super proud. Have I mentioned that? I planned and built a cabinet, and didn't mess it up. Major win.

Other Features

Since I didn't have to put the TV over the fireplace, I could put this super cute moose up there instead! I found him at the thrift store (of course,) for a whopping $10, and seriously love him. Plus, a little sticker on the back implies he is actually "real art," aka, something that hung in a gallery at one point. 

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

The other two pieces of artwork in the room were both things I already had, and are probably no longer on the market. They were actually purchased the same day as the couch all those years ago!

The curtains were one of the two things that were purchased from a real (not thrift) store! They're Ikea Lenda curtains, but I hacked them a bit to remove the tabs and add a liner. The curtain rods were a DIY build from dowel rods.

The second thing I purchased was the rug... I learned early on that it's near impossible to build an area rug for cheaper than what is commercially available, so I buy my rugs. This one I got off Houzz for around $200. I'm so pleased with it. It brightens up the room, but doesn't dirty easily like white rugs do. And, despite the texture, it's great to walk on! 

Cost Considerations

Here's an approximate cost breakdown of what this remodel cost. Keep in mind that most of the furniture got a makeover before landing in the room, so what this makeover saves in money, it makes up for in labor!

  • $150- Wainscoting
  • $40- Burlap Walls
  • $50- Curtain Rods + Rings
  • $30- Couch Reupholster
  • $70- Ikea Curtains 
  • $30- Teapot Lamp
  • $320- TV Lift Cabinet
  • $40- Rattan Chair
  • $75 Coffee Table + Materials
  • $50- Antique Chair + Materials
  • $25- Grandfather Clock
  • $200- Rug
  • $10- Fireplace Paint
  • $20- Pillows and Accessories
  • $15- Small Side Table

The makeover came in around $1125, which seems like a lot until I go look at what it would have cost to furnish the room with new furniture... then it seems like a bargain! Plus, I love it, which is always a bonus!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal
This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal
This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal
This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

This is the last week of the One Room Challenge, so there are a bunch of other awesome reveals for you to go check out! Make sure to take a look- they are beautiful! But before you do, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest below so you can find it again later!

This living room goes from plain and empty to a warm and welcoming space in this room reveal... complete with a hidden TV! #LivingRoomRemodel #RoomReveal

How to Build a DIY TV Lift Cabinet

For the longest time, I debated where to put a TV in my living room. Above the fireplace seemed like the only option, but not only is that considered a design mistake, it'd be difficult (and possibly painful) to view from the seating area. I debated this issue for quite awhile, until one day I came upon this photo on Houzz:

I had never seen a TV lift cabinet before in my life, but it seemed like the solution to all of my TV/fireplace woes. The TV could be in a nice, out of the way cabinet, and easily lifted out when necessary. And then I googled TV lift cabinets. Turns out, prices start at $1500 for an entry-level cabinet, and most are priced at $3000.

As discussed during my desk remodel, I don't have that kind of money. And even if I did have that kind of money, I have better things to do with it than blow it on a single cabinet. But, given that I could purchase the lift mechanism separately, I could totally build a DIY TV lift cabinet.

Something to know: you don't need to be an expert woodworker to build this cabinet. It's built primarily with pocket/Kreg Jig holes and screws. I don't even own a table saw, let alone know how to make fancy cuts with them. However, some general experience working with wood is highly recommended. Basically, a DIY TV lift cabinet shouldn't be anyone's first project. Go check out this simple Monitor Riser/Desk Organizer (yes, it's both!) if you're just getting started.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

DIY TV Lift Cabinet: Plan and Rational

I'm a big planner, especially on projects that seem overwhelming. So much so, that I actually created a Project Planner to help me keep things organized. While it's great for almost everything else I do, it was a little too small for the DIY TV lift cabinet, so I ended up sketching out my plans on a sheet of graph paper.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

 I spent a long time figuring out exactly what dimensions would work for the cabinet. I purchased a 43" TV, and, fun fact, that 43" measurement is diagonal (clearly a marketing ploy to make you think you're getting a bigger TV.) The actual width of the TV is 38.4", so I was able to get away with a 43" internal width.

As for the height, the most affordable (aka, cheapest) motorized lift mechanism I could find was 38" tall in its lowest setting. That meant that the internal height of the cabinet needed to be at least 38," preferably a little more for error purposes. However, 38" internal height + 3" legs + 1.5" top =  42.5" tall cabinet, which is massive. It might not seem that way on paper, but let me assure you, this is large. Therefore, I went with the absolute minimum internal height I was comfortable with, which was 38.5." As expected, the cabinet is massive, but the lift mechanism fits (with about 1/4" of space spare.) 

Finally, the depth of the internal space was based on the depth of the TV (3.4") plus the depth of the lift system (3.9".) Thus the minimum depth was 8.3." Since I had no constraints in this dimensions, I just went ahead and gave myself plenty of room and planned for a 14" depth.

To assemble the cabinet, I planned to independently make four different sections: the back, two sides, and the bottom. Then I'd attach them together and add a few front supports. Finally, I'd add a hinged top, as well as doors to the front. Typical cabinet doors require a table saw (which I do not have,) and while I've cobbled together similar working alternatives in the past (desk remodeltilt-out trash can,) since I was spending a fair amount of money on this project I wanted to make sure the front was something of quality. So instead, I decided to use a regular piece of 3/4" plywood for the doors, and instead create a faux-drawer look with paint and a circular saw. Full details can be found in the process section.

DIY TV Lift Cabinet: Materials
  • Two Sheets of 3/4" Plywood- I used this Birch Plywood from Lowes. It was plywood, and it was fine. I was neither thrilled nor disappointed.
  • Five 2"x 2"x 8' Boards- So, lets chat a bit.  2" x 2"s can reliably be found in what I lovingly call the "crap wood" (officially called "whitewood boards") section of you local Home Improvement store. They're typically less than $3 a piece, but most will be warped, twisted and generally a mess. You will need to spend 10-15 minutes digging through the pile to find 5 boards that are mostly straight. Bring some scissors, because this will be easier if you can open new packs. Then, when you get home, you'll need to spend another hour or so sanding them. Alternatively, 2" x 2"s can occasionally be found in the Pine, Poplar and Oak sections, where they tend to be straighter and less ugly. However, you'll pay $20-$40 per board. $15 versus $100-$200. I'll let you make your own choice, but know I purchased these.
  • One 2" x 10" x 8' OR 1" x 10" x 8'My original plan and build featured two four feet long 2" x 10" pieces for the top. I wanted the width to match the frame made of 2" x 2"s, which is why I made that choice. However, once built, when the top is in the "up" position, it occasionally tilts the cabinet backwards because it's so heavy. I added some weights to the front of my cabinet to stabilize it, but if you're making this build, I'd recommend using a 1" x 10" instead to avoid this issue.
  • Three Mortise-Style Door Hinges- These are for the top. You can probably get away with two if you're making a 1" thick top instead of a 2" thick top.
  • Four Surface Mount Cabinet Hinges- These are for the doors of the cabinet. I'm not going to say installation is a breeze, but no drill press is required, making it simpler that most other alternatives.
  • Four 1 5/8" Size 8 Screw Eyes- After assembling most of the cabinet, I realized the top could flop back and seriously hurt someone. So I grabbed some screw eyes and a chain to connect it to the front of the cabinet.
  • #16 Single Jack Chain- For connecting top to front of cabinet.
  • 8 Cabinet Pulls of Your Choice- I used these.
  • Motorized TV Lift System- There seems to be a huge price range for these devices, from $150 up to $600. I purchased the very cheapest one, since $150 already seemed like a lot of money to spend. It was easy enough to install, and seems to work well so far. If that changes, I'll come and update this.
  • Finish of Your Choice- I used Cece Caldwell's Hickory Hardware on the plywood pieces, and Valspar's Muted Ebony on the frame.
  • Black Paint- You only need a little bit to paint the "drawer" lines on the cabinet door.
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DIY TV Lift Cabinet: The Process
Step 1: Make Sides

After sanding the daylights off of the 2" x 2"s, I cut two of the pieces into four 43" pieces. Then I cut two 14" pieces off of a third 2" x 2".

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

I cut two 37" x 14" pieces off of the 3/4" plywood, then prepped the pieces by lightly sanding and adding Kreg holes on all four sides. When arranged with the 2" x 2" pieces, a side looked like this:

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Note that the plywood is flush with the 2" x 2"s. This is important. The inside of the cabinet needs to be flat in order to easily install the lift mechanism and cabinet door hinges. Since the plywood isn't as thick as the 2" x 2", I put another piece of 3/4" plywood underneath the plywood to make it the same height as the 2" x 2".

Then I glued and screwed the 2" x 2"s to the plywood as shown above. At the end of this step, you should have two sides that look like the side in the above photo.

Step 2: Make Back and Bottom

The process of "cut plywood, add Kreg holes, attach to 2x2s" gets repeated again for the back and bottom The back piece of plywood should be 37" tall x 43" wide. The 2x2s should be on the top and bottom of the back but not the sides, since the back will attach to the legs that are already on the sides of the cabinet. See photo below.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

You might notice that in the above photo, my bottom 2x2 has Kreg jig holes in it. These aren't necessary, and actually, never received screws despite my initial intentions. You can ignore them.

Also note that while many pieces of furniture have a flimsy 1/4" back in order to save money, this cabinet does not. This is intentional. The lift mechanism will attach to the back of the cabinet, so it needs to be sturdy, thus the 3/4" plywood.

The bottom piece of plywood is 43" x 14", and has 2x2s on three of the four sides. Since the bottom will hold the entire TV setup, I also added Kreg holes onto the 2x2s for extra support.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Note that the plywood piece in the above photo is not flush with the 2x2s. This is because the bottom of the bottom won't be seen, so I can put the Kreg holes on that side instead of the inside of the cabinet. Basically, when I assemble the cabinet, the inside of the cabinet will still contain the flush part of side of the bottom.

Step 3: Assemble Cabinet

I was lucky in that when I dry fit my four pieces (two sides, back, and bottom) they fit snugly. I was able to adjust them, making sure the tops were level and the pieces were as flush as possible without difficulty. Then I clamped the pieces together and added screws everywhere I saw a hole.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Finally, I added two 2x2 pieces to the front of the cabinet- one across the top (43" long) and another spanning from the top to the bottom of the cabinet (37".) Each of these 2x2s had two Kreg holes on either end that secured the piece in place.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
Step 4: Make and Add Top

I just want to reiterate one more time that while I used a 2" x 10" to make the top of my cabinet, I highly recommend anyone attempting this use a 1" x 10" instead. The 2" x 10", when lifted up, shifted too much weight to the back of the cabinet, causing it to destabilize. A 1" x 10" would be much safer.

After a thorough sanding, I cut the 2" x 10" x 8' board in half. Then I added six Kreg holes to one of the two 4' boards. Finally, I connected the two pieces together using Kreg screws.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

To connect the top to the cabinet, I screwed three hinges to the top of the cabinet. Then I laid the cabinet on its back, and placed the top next to the cabinet, shimming the cabinet so the top and hinge made a 90 degree angle. See picture below.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Then I screwed the hinges to the top.

Step 6: Make and Add Doors

Each of my doors came out to be 20 3/4" x 37", however you should definitely determine these measurements based on the cabinet you've created. I did not cut the plywood for the doors until after the cabinet frame was complete and I knew the exact measurements I needed.

Once I'd cut my plywood and confirmed that the piece did fit in the door opening, I drew three lines on the piece, splitting it into four equal sections.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Then I set my circular saw at a really tiny depth...

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

And sawed across the lines. This creates a depth in the wood that looks like a drawer.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

I also have a Kreg Rip Cut guide that helps me cut straight. My freehand circular saw skills are non-existent, so there is no way I could have done this without the guide. In fact, I use the guide every single time I use my circular saw, and wouldn't be able to do most plywood projects without it. If you don't have a table saw, I highly recommend it.

Then I took the doors upstairs, stained them, and painted the lines with some black acrylic paint and the world's tiniest paintbrush. This was a bit tedious, but it made a huge difference in the look of the doors. They look so much more like real drawers this way.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

I then painted the frame of cabinet, since I figured it would be easier to do this before I added the doors.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Finally, I attached the doors to the cabinet using the surface mount hinges. This is much easier to do with two people- one person to hold the door, the other to screw the hinges into place. I was so thankful my dad was visiting and able to help me out!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
Step 7: Finish Remainder of Cabinet and Add Drawer Pulls/Knobs

I finished the sides and back pieces of plywood, as well as the top, with one coat of Cece Caldwell's Hickory Hardwood stain. Then I added cabinet knobs to the front of the cabinet. I took zero pictures of any of this, but it was a pretty straightforward process that went exactly how you'd expect.

Step 8: Added Safety Chain

Given that the top of the cabinet was so heavy, if it flopped backwards it could injure someone and/or pull the screws out from the hinges. So to avoid this issue, I added a chain to keep the top in place when raised. To do this, we (I recruited my dad for this part so I could get some pictures) pried a screw eye slightly open:

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Slipped the end of the chain over the edge:

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Then closed it back up:

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

I drilled a pilot hole into the top/cabinet, and screwed each screw eye into place.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Since the chain I purchased was one 15 foot length, to "cut" it to the right length, we opened a link with pliers at the place we wanted to "cut." The length we needed slipped right off!

I added a chain on either side of the cabinet for extra security!

Step 9: Install Lift Mechanism/TV

There was a fair amount of "following the instructions" for this part. I didn't run into any major issues, but it did take me a bit of time to figure out what to do. The installation instructions for the mount I purchased can be found here (if for some reason you ordered the exact same one and don't have instructions.)

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

And then the cabinet was done!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture
DIY TV Lift Cabinet: Cost Considerations

I had a couple Lowes coupons, so I was able to to reduce the price a bit. I paid about:

  • $96 for two sheets of plywood
  • $10 for five 2" x 2" x 8' furring strips
  • $8 for three door hinges
  • $5 for the 2" x 10" x 8' top
  • $4 for a 100 count pack of 1 1/4" Kreg Screws
  • $7 for a 15' length of chain
  • $2 for four screw eyes
  • $13 for four cabinet door hinges
  • $20 for a 10 pack of cabinet knobs
  • $3 for a paint sample
  • $150 for the TV lift mechanism

So it cost me about $170 to build the cabinet, and another $150 for the lift mechanism for a total of $320. Considering TV lift cabinets start at $1500, I consider this a major win. That being said, it was probably the most expensive DIY I've ever done, but I'm pretty proud of the result!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

No really, I'm in love with it. It completes my living room, and allows me to have a peaceful TV-free space until it's time to watch TV!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Plus, the lift mechanism is so easy to use. Walk over, lift top, press button to raise TV. Done.

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

And the drawers actually look like drawers!! I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely sure how they'd turn out when I started- I've never done tried this before!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

If you too want to hide your TV, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it and build a DIY TV Lift Cabinet later! And if you do end up building the cabinet, let me know in the comments below! I'd love to see what you've made and hear about your experience!

Want a hidden TV? Build an affordable DIY TV Lift Cabinet with this complete tutorial! #Furniture

Living Room Remodel: Week 5

It is absolutely crazy to me that we're on Week 5 of the One Room Challenge. Week 5!! (If you're here for the first time, go check out Weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4.) That's almost the end! I feel like I have so much to do, and the irony is, I'm not even home right now. I'm in Wisconsin, helping my dad open up our summer cabin. I did get the grandfather clock finished before we left, so you can see it in all of it's remade glory:

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

I really like the way it looks in this corner. I was a little concerned this side of the room would be awkwardly empty, but I think the clock is the perfect thing to make it seem intentionally furnished, but still provide plenty of space to walk through.

I also started (key word here is started) the TV lift cabinet for the opposite corner. Here's what that corner looked like last week:

And, honestly? It still looks like that. But I'm working on a cabinet for the TV. It's very much in progress, and all I've got so far are some unattached sides, but I've started it, and that's an important milestone. I unfortunately do not have the pictures with me, so you'll have to wait in suspense until next week...

Finally, while I'm in Wisconsin I'm working on a standing lamp to go just behind the plant in the seating area. The key part? This teapot:

I found it stashed above a cabinet in the cabin, and decided it would make a great "lampshade" for my rather eclectic living room. At the very least, it'll be an interesting conversation piece. I've only just started the project, so I don't have much to show you yet, but come back next week to see if ends up looking at least somewhat decent.

And that's all that new this week. To recap a bit, the rest of the living room (still) looks like this:

Next week is the final reveal, and I'm super excited to see what everything will look like put together! In the meantime, go admire all of the other One Room Challenge rooms. They're almost done, and starting to look pretty good!

DIY Grandfather Clock Makeover

Do you ever have a project that you're super nervous to tackle? For me, it was this grandfather clock:

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

I picked it up over a month ago for $25 at my local Habitat for Humanity Restore. And since then, it's sat in my "future projects area" (aka, the dining room) waiting for me to be brave enough to start it.

It's not a super-duper valuable grandfather clock. And yes, I know that for sure. I found an appropriately-labeled envelope inside the clock answering every single question I had about the origins of this clock.

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

Really. I even have the original purchaser's address and SSN. Lucky for them, I'm not an identity thief (and I'm kind enough to black out the info before posting pictures on the internet.)

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

The clock is a 1977 Ridgeway originally purchased for $412. While it might work, (the pendulum and chimes were wrapped up in a plastic bag in the bottom of the clock,) I'm not betting on it, especially after the bumpy 60 mile unpadded trailer ride it took home from Habitat.

Plus, the majority of this clock is not real wood. The carvings and frames? Yes. But any large flat sections (the sides, the bottom front) are all particleboard. 

So why was I nervous? A couple reasons: 1) Grandfather clocks don't fall into my possession everyday. If I screw up a coffee table, no biggie, there are plenty of those that need a little love. Grandfather clocks are a little harder to find; 2) This clock did not start ugly. It's a nice clock, in decent condition. Most things I start with are hideously outdated or damaged. This was not. It just didn't fit the style of my living room, so I wanted to change it. There was a distinct possibility it would end up uglier than what I started with, and that's nerve-wracking.

While some people might like the original "fine furniture" finish better than the "after," I think the clock's new look fits my living room much better than the original dark faux walnut. I'm calling it a win.

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip
The Plan

I really wanted the clock to have a "weathered wood" look to it.. problem is, the weathered wood look starts with a light base. And because so much of this clock was veneered, I had no good way to remove the dark stain from the clock. The finish? Yeah, I could strip that. But sanding away the stain would mean sanding through the veneer, which was a non-starter.

So I decided to try and get the "weathered" look with a dark base. I had no idea how that would turn out, or if I'd like it in the end, which was probably reason number 3 I was hesitant to get started. But I told myself if it turned out awful, I could always paint it in the future.

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The Process
Step 1: Strip the Clock

The grandfather clock came with a traditional finish, but for my weathering technique to work, the grain needed to be accessible. So I grabbed a stripping agent (Jasco stuff- it burns like crazy and I don't recommend it) and got started.

I went in small chunks at a time, since the stripping goop dries fast, and then is difficult to remove. I applied the goop, let it sit for 30-ish seconds, then started scraping it off. 30 seconds was really all this stuff needed to work.

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

You'll note that the original finish had these weird black dots all over it. Some research told me this is called "flyspecking" and is done to make wood look older. I am really not a fan, and was super glad to see them come off with the finish.

It was a slow process, and it probably took me 3-4 hours to work my way around the entire clock. Eventually, though, my clock looked like this:

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip
Step 2: Weather

To weather the wood, I watered down some white paint and used a paintbrush to spread it on.

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

Then I grabbed a rag and wiped the paint away until only a slight dusting was left.

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

Thankfully, this went much faster than the stripping process of the previous day, and was done in about an hour. Since I had some extra time, I decided to paint the inside of the clock white to provide a contrast with the outer darker/weathered wood.

And then the clock was done!

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

I love how it looks in the living room.. it's the perfect decor piece to go in this awkward, empty corner. 

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

If you love it too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!

A particleboard grandfather clock gets a makeover in this easy but nerve-wracking DIY! #furnituremakeover #furnitureflip

Living Room Remodel: Week 4

It is Week 4 of the One Room Challenge! If you're just now joining me, feel free to check out Weeks 1, 2 and 3!

Exactly one thing happened this week; I refinished and reupholstered this chair:

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

I feel like I have nothing to tell you about, since my accomplishments were pretty limited to this one job. But guys, this chair was time consuming. Finishing this project was a huge win, even if it means I don't have that much to show you. Regardless, here's the finished product.

I stripped and refinished the wood, and I absolutely love the way the lighter tone brings out the carvings. The new upholstery (aka, bleached dropcloths) matches the rest of the living room seating area, which I think was needed to make the three different pieces seem somewhat cohesive.

The corner pile of future-living-room possibilities hasn't moved. I did take a new picture of it for you, though.

I've also started working on something exciting for next week, though. Check out this grandfather clock:

I dragged it out to the porch to start the refinishing process, and while it's not done yet, I fully expect to have a finished product to show you next week! Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the other One Room Challenge posts!

See you next week!

How to Makeover an Antique Chair Without Paint

Check out this chair:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I found it at my local Habitat Restore at their very busiest time. About a hundred people were frantically running around the store trying to secure the best pieces before they disappeared. But this little chair was being blatantly ignored.

I get it. The fabric doesn't do the chair justice. Plus it was covered in cat hair. Not exactly room-ready.

But the solid wood. The carvings. It had potential. And it was a small, well-contained chair, which was exactly what I was looking for to complete my living room seating area. The rocking chair aspect was a little strange, but hey, you can't have everything. I snatched it up for $35.

Of course, the moment it was on my cart everybody noticed it. "What a beautiful chair!" "Such intricate carvings!" "Oh, it's such an antique." I have a hypothesis that thrift store items immediately increase in perceived value as soon as someone claims them.

Regardless, that chair came home with me. But it needed a lot of work before it'd fit into my living room. And that work was full of interesting little surprises.

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Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

The Plan

Between the fabric and the wood, the chair was pretty dark when I purchased it. But my living room (so far) is all light-neutrals and medium toned wood:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I wanted the chair to match.  I thought about painting the wood a lighter color, but frankly, the wood was just too old and pretty to cover up. Since I figured the wood was oak, I decided to strip the finish and re-stain to a medium color.

The fabric was easy- I had already recovered the couch with bleached dropcloths, reupholstering the chair with the same fabric would bring some continuity to the furniture.

Therefore, there were two big parts to the project: 1) Strip and refinish the wood and 2) Reupholster the chair.

Part 1: Stripping and Refinishing the Wood

Stripping wood is never something that goes super-easily for me. The stripper goop says to let it rest for 15 minutes before removing, but every time I've tried that, the goop dries before I have a chance to scrape it off. This time I got smart, and wrapped the goop/chair in plastic wrap immediately after applying.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

It also helps to be out of direct sunlight. Opps. I started in the shade, I swear.

This method was a win. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, the goop was still pretty wet, and scraped off easily.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Someday, after I've done this five more times, I'll write you a whole tutorial on it. In the meantime, have this small tip. Plastic wrap is a win.

Additionally, as you might have noticed, I didn't bother to protect the fabric parts from the stripping goop. Since I was throwing out the fabric eventually anyway, and it was pretty thick decor fabric, I decided the fabric was enough the protect the innards of the chair from the goop.

Eventually, my chair was fully stripped:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

As you can probably tell from the photo, the chair was still pretty blotchy at this point, so I grabbed my sander and sanded everything down. Any parts that were too curvy to hit with the orbital sander, I very carefully sanded with the my Dremel and sanding bit combo.

For whatever reason, I didn't take a far-away photo of the chair, but here's a nice closeup of what the wood looked like fully sanded:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Now, this was a surprise. I figured the wood was stained oak, but this is considerably darker and redder than oak. The current guess is cherry, but feel free to chime in in the comments if you have a better idea!

At this point, I realized that the chair hadn't been stained at all, but the finish that was applied just darkened the look of the wood significantly. I knew I'd need to be careful finishing the wood, else I end up exactly where I'd started.

I took a couple different finishes and stains I had around the house, and tested them on the bottom of the rocker.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I learned a long time ago in my furniture refinishing journey that the "gourmet" chalk paints and waxes are not worth the extra cost. That being said, I found some Miss Mustard Seed Brown Antiquing Wax at the Habitat Restore a few weeks back, and for $5, picked it up. It was at Habitat for a reason; when I opened the can, I was greeted with this (minus the obvious hole. I made that.)

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

But that had been my favorite of the finishes I tested on the rocker, so I used it anyway. It seemed fine. I'm also not sure the wax is intended to be used directly on wood. It only talks about chalk/milk paint in the literature. I figured it would be fine.

Halfway through, the chair looked like this. You can really tell the difference the wax is making.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

And eventually:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

In addition to the whole matches-the-living-room thing, I think the new finish really brings out the carvings, which is a nice bonus!

Part 2: Reupholstering the Chair

In some reupholsering projects, I've just covered over the fabric that was already there (the couch being the prime example.) Sometimes that's easier. But frankly, this fabric was pretty dirty, so it had to go. It took almost as much time to get the fabric off as it did to put new fabric on. There were a lot of staples, but a pair of pliers can be a miracle tool sometimes.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip
DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Look a little closer. Do you see the nails?

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I think those once held upholstery in place. I have no idea how old this chair is, or when in history nails were used for upholstery, but between that and the cherry, I'm guessing this chair is old. There's one more clue, but we'll get there later.

Eventually I got all the fabric off the seat. The batting was in pretty good shape, so I left it there.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I used the fabric I removed as a pattern for my new fabric. I traced about an inch outside of the pattern, because I'd rather have too much fabric than too little.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Then I laid it out on the seat. Typically (probably because I cut extra fabic) I had to do a little snipping around the arms and other tricky areas, but nothing major.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Then I stapled the fabric in place. I don't have an electric staple gun (just a manual one) but I do have a brad nail gun. So one trick I have is to use the nail gun to secure my fabric once I have it perfectly arranged, then come back with staples for extra security. That way the fabric doesn't move as I struggle with my staple gun.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

After working my way around the chair, I had a recovered seat!

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I repeated this process for the top, and it's cool and everything, but there was one more "age clue" that I think is more interesting. Once I got the fabric off, I was confronted with this:

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

It might look like normal padding in the picture, but let me tell you, it's not. My dad was super into farms when I was a kid, and as a result, I've been through an impressive number of farm and stockyard tours. This, more than anything else, reminds me of wool sheared off of a sheep, possibly minimally processed (my memories of the farm tours are admittedly vague.) I have no idea if that was ever actually a thing used in furniture, but it is my best guess at what this stuff actually is.

Here's a close up. See all that debris? That's what made me think of it. I remember I was shocked at how dirty the wool was when it came off the sheep. Even after being processed a bit, it still had chunks in it, just like this.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

But maybe it's something else. I am not at all a farm-animal expert. I'd love any thoughts you have on what this stuff actually is!

Regardless, I eventually got the fabric off and the new fabric on, following the same process as on the seat.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

The seat back had two different fabric pieces- the part the covered the front and the part that covered the back. I arranged the back piece to cover all the staples from the front piece, and secured it with brad nails.

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I only secured it with brad nails because I was hoping if it looked pretty enough, I wouldn't have to cover the nails up with piping (and could return the piping I'd bought for this purpose.) The back fabric won't be strained as much as the other pieces by people sitting and moving around or anything, so I think the nails will be enough to hold the fabric in place.

And, finally, the chair was done!

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Any guesses on how old it actually is? I've got no idea, other than "old."

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

I love how it matches my living room! It really brings everything together, and I think the wood came out the perfect color. I'm so glad I took the time to strip the old finish off!

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

If you love it too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest below!

DIY chair makeover turns an outdated upholstered thrift store chair into a modern beauty while retaining the antique aspects! #FurnitureMakeover #FurnitureFlip

Living Room Remodel: Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, aka, the halfway point (or, at least, the end of the first half!) This is absolutely crazy to me, because it seems like we just started, but here we are. 

My main accomplishment this past week was the remodel of a now beautiful coffee table. It was a $15 thrift store pick up that started like this:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

Now, I totally screwed up when I picked out this table at the thrift store. If you've ever taken a look at my thrift store shopping checklist, you know that solid wood furniture is a must for me. Laminate furniture is difficult to refinish, and particleboard's structural integrity breaks down when you start cutting or drilling into it.

But somehow, I missed the fact that this was a veneered piece until I got home. I was pretty disappointed (both at the table and myself,) but I ultimately figured out a way to make it work. Eventually, that little coffee table looked like this:

I was even able to add lift-top storage!

I am thrilled with the way it looks, and think it is a major win for the living room!

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My other big addition this week is my new BFF, Mr. Moose. Here he is, chilling above the fireplace:

When his $10 self came home from the thrift store, he was hindered by an unwieldy MDF frame. 

I wasn't having that, so I put together a simpler frame for him. Someday, (probably after the ORC is over) I'll post a quick little tutorial for that. Stay tuned!

As for the rest of the living room, here's what we're looking at right now:

I'm not sure if those flowers on top of the coffee table will stay, but for now they give us something to look at.

Lets check out that eyesore in the corner... aka, the future living room supply area.

For most of the stuff in this corner, I have no idea if I'm actually going to end up using it. But it's stuff I had around the house that I vaguely think could work in here. So it sits in the corner waiting for me to make a final decision.

The TV, obviously, is new, and I am super excited to tell you about my plan for it. A couple weeks back, I came across this picture on Houzz:

I was toying with the idea of putting a TV over a fireplace... despite the knowledge that was a major design no-no, and would be physically painful to watch from the couch. I don't watch TV very often, but at least wanted to have something with basic stations available. But I couldn't figure out a place (other than above the fireplace) that wouldn't complete with fireplace for attention.

Then I came across that picture. Unfortunately, TV lift cabinets like that cost thousands. But, I'm pretty sure I can make something similar, especially if I purchase the lift mechanism. So that is the current plan, with the cabinet ultimately going in the corner under the built-in bookshelf. I'm only starting to design the cabinet, but I can't wait to see how it turns out!

And that's all for this week. Make sure you check out the other One Room Challenge rooms. They are certainly coming along!

How to Makeover an Ugly Laminate Coffee Table

I love my Habitat for Humanity Restore, as I think I've mentioned a couple times before. They have a large inventory of well-priced ever-rotating used furniture, which is pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a thrift store. There's only one thing about the store I don't love: the schedule.

My Habitat store is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, but accepts donations on other days of the week. That means that 10 AM on Wednesday is when they have their best inventory. I know this. In fact, everyone knows this, as evidenced by the giant crowd that can be found outside the doors every Wednesday at 9:55 AM. 

It's a free for all. 70-ish antique dealers, furniture flippers, and the occasional homeowner running around trying to grab the best finds before anyone else. It's stressful, and frankly, I only go at that time if I'm looking for something specific.

Cue last week. I needed furniture for my living room, and was pretty much stalled on the living room until I found something. So, 9:55 AM on Wednesday, there I was standing outside of Habitat. I needed a coffee table to makeover. I wanted it to be relatively small, with space underneath for storage. I found this:

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Small? Check. Space underneath? Check. 100% wood? No!! Not check!! But I didn't realize that until I got home. I blame the crazy Habitat atmosphere for my temporary inability to figure out this was a veneered piece. Looking now, it seems so obvious. Don't make my mistakes: actually print out the Thrift Store Shopping Checklist (free below) so you make sure to get the right piece.

Regardless, I paid $15 for this little coffee table, so I was determined to make something out of it. I did, and actually, I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

Materials Purchased
  • Wood for Tabletop- I purchased five four foot 1" x 6" pieces of premium pine to make into the tabletop. Note that pine stains poorly, so I used wood conditioner and did a lot of testing on the scrap pieces before staining. It cost around $60 from Lowes for the wood.
  • Lift-Top Hardware- The set I purchased was actually my second set of hardware- the first was too large to fit in the small space. I'm pretty happy with them so far (especially for 20-ish dollars,) and they were easy to install despite the lack of instructions.
  • Everything else I had around the house. This includes scrap wood, wood glue, stains and paints, nails, and screws.
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Step 1: Disassemble the Table

When I flipped the table over, I was pleasantly surprised that it would be easy to take apart. The lower level was only held in by angle brackets and screws, so I had those off in a few seconds. 

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

The top of the table was also held to the frame by screws, so I quickly ended up with this:

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

I toyed with the idea of cutting the lower level into something rectangular, but didn't want the hassle of trying to clean up the edges, since they'd be visible. Instead, I added both the top and the lower level to my assortment of scrap pieces in the basement, to be used on another project later.

Step 2: Make the New Tabletops

This was the most labor intensive part of the process, taking me a couple hours to cut and assemble the pieces. I wanted the top to be slightly larger than the frame, so I aimed to make the top 44" long by 27" wide. See the sketch below for each board's measurements.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

I started with the middle boards, cutting them all to be 16" long, and adding two kreg jig holes to three sides in 7 out of 8 of the boards. The last board only had holes on the ends.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Then I used wood glue and kreg jig screws to attach the boards together. Clamps are important here, FYI.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Only after these eight boards were glued and screwed together did I cut the long pieces to go on either side. This way, I cut the long pieces to match exactly the length of the tabletop. Turns out, this table is 43 7/8," so that's what I cut my long pieces to.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

As you could probably tell from the above photo, I didn't drill any new Kreg jig holes in the long boards. Instead, I just used the holes I drilled in the earlier boards to attach everything. The number of screws I used may have been overkill... but hey, it's sturdy!

For the lower tabletop, I repeated this exact same process with scrap wood that I had in my basement. I knew I was going to paint the lower level, so I was less concerned with picking nice boards that matched.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

The lower level was smaller than the upper level, since it was inside of the table legs. I specifically cut (and chose which boards I used) based on the distance between the table legs.

Step 3: Paint and Stain

I decided to paint and stain each part before assembling since it would be easier to access all of the areas. For the painted parts, I started with two coats of Zinsser's Oil-Based Primer, since I wanted to make sure the paint would adhere to the veneer. I wish I could tell you exactly what paint I used, but it was a mix of some leftover white latex paint with some leftover burlap-colored paint (from my burlap walls project,) that I then mixed with baking soda to make into chalk paint.

Something to know: I'm not a huge chalk paint fan, mostly because I prefer a more semi-gloss look in my own home. Plus, that stuff's ridiculously overpriced, and I have better things to spend $30+ on than a quart of paint. However, this DIY baking soda thing had me sold. It was cheap (aka, free, since I already had baking soda,) easy to mix, and adhered well. So well, in fact, that it didn't seem to chip easily, so if you wanted a chippy look, maybe try something else? The texture was super grainy after it dried, but a quick sanding solved that issue. 

It was so much of a win that now I'm wondering what else I can paint with this baking soda chalk paint stuff. If you too want to give it a try, I mixed 1 cup latex paint with 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 cup baking soda. 

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

For the tabletop, I used wood conditioner, then stained with two coats of Cece Caldwell's Hickory stain. I bought this stuff years ago when I was trying to get a very specific look. It's pretty expensive, and honestly, I'm not sure it's worth the price. That said, it works differently than most stains (you don't wipe it away,) and seems to do a better job on pine than more traditional options. Despite the fact this stain claims it's "stain+finish," it still felt raw, so I added two coats of Minwax's Tung Oil once the stain was dry.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Step 4: Prep Frame

I decided this coffee table would be even more handy if it had a small storage area underneath the top. To do this, I'd need a couple things: 1) some structural supports to hold the bottom of the storage area in place and 2) hardware to lift up the top. I purchased this lift-up mechanism from Amazon, and while I waited for it to arrive, put some supports in place.

The supports were some old 1" x 3" furrings strips I'd found in the basement. One had even been used as a stain-testing board, but since this was inside of the table, I figured it didn't matter. I cut them to the inside width of the coffee table, then added two Kreg jig screw holes on each end.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Then I flipped the leg/frame piece over, and secured the strips on each end (with one in the middle) using Kreg jig screws.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Obviously, this little area is going to need a bottom, however, if I attach the bottom before attaching the tabletop, it will be difficult for me to install the lift mechanism. Therefore, I waited to install the bottom until after the tabletop had been connected.

Step 5: Assemble

Once the lift mechanism arrived, I could install the tabletop! I flipped the tabletop over, and put the leg/frame on top.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

The lift mechanism did not come with instructions, so I took an educated guess at installing it. I opened the mechanisms and placed them into place on the table.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

This allowed me to access the holes in mechanism and add screws that attached the mechanism to the tabletop. See below.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Then I closed the mechanism and attached it to the furring strip frame I'd added.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Then I could finally close up my storage area! I cut some 1/4" strips of plywood (leftover from my plywood floor and wainscoting projects,) to the correct length and nailed/screwed them to the furring strips.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

If you can't see from the photo, there are two nails and a screw at each furring strip point.

I had originally planned to use 1 inch thick scrap boards for the bottom of this area, but I decided to go with the scrap plywood instead. It's cheaper, and I could save the 1 inch boards for something where I really needed the support. I'm not planning to store anything too heavy in this compartment, so the 1/4" plywood should be strong enough.

Lastly, I attached the new bottom level to the frame. I cut a little triangle off of each corner, then secured it in place with the original angle brackets.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Coffee table makeover complete!!

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Despite this seeming like the longest tutorial ever, this project didn't actually take that long to do. I maybe spent five hours working on it total, although it was spaced out over a week while I waited for the lift mechanism to arrive. 

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

And if you're wondering why I didn't just build a whole table from scratch instead of starting with the existing frame, there are a couple reasons. First, this was cheaper. Wood is expensive. Fancy table legs are expensive. The fifteen dollars I spent for the frame was still probably cheaper than the cost of creating that frame from scratch. Secondly, this was easier. I didn't have to worry about making sure the frame was square, or that the table was level. The hardest parts of building furniture were already done for me.

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover

Regardless, I love the way it turned out, even if I was a little sad when I brought the original table home from the store. It fits well into my slowly-coming-together living room, and provides some extra easily accessible storage too!

If you loved it too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!

Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
Learn to transform an old laminate coffee table into something modern and functional! #furnitureflip #furnituremakeover
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