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How To Make Modern Furniture Look Vintage

How To Make Modern Furniture Look Vintage
If there’s been one major trend in the last few year’s, it’s vintage. It arrived with a bang (and plenty of bunting) and it doesn’t look set to go away any time soon. If you like the style but you don’t have the budget to replace your furniture, you might be interested in giving it a make-over. Here’s how…

Vintage Style

So what exactly is vintage style? Although vintage can mean anything that is older than the current era, when most people think of vintage, they are thinking of 1950’s style. Cupcakes, bunting, floral fabrics and that ‘shabby-chic’ look to furniture. It’s no longer a virtue to have something that looks brand new, far better that it looks like a hand-me-down that’s been lovingly up-cycled.

There is some overlap between vintage, Bo-ho and shabby chic - don’t get too tied down with labels, just choose the things that you like and leave out the things that you don’t. There’s no such thing as the vintage style police!

Choosing a Piece of Furniture

You’ll need to start with the furniture that you want to upcycle. If you want the classic vintage feel then pieces from the 1950s give you the best start - there won’t be much to do to make these look authentic because they already are! However you can make pretty much any piece of furniture look like it came from the 1950s with a little care and attention.

The real vintage look is achieved by painting and then distressing wooden furniture. It’s not that it’s impossible to make-over fibreboard or laminate, but it does need special painting techniques to get the right look. Prepare your piece first by giving it a really good clean. Then remove all the furniture (door and drawer knobs to you and me) and give the piece a good sanding all over (an electric sander makes that job a lot easier).

Priming and Painting

Use primer next (high adhesion primer if you’re using laminate) and follow that with a coat or two of either plain white paint, or the colour of your choice. If you’ve used a roller, just give it a brush over to remote the stipple and replace it with more authentic bristle marks.

painted chest of drawers


Once the paint has dried, take the sander to the edges and remove a little paint to create the well-used look. The next step is to apply a stain. This is where the furniture takes on its aged look. Start with a little and build up layers to get a genuine effect.

Sealing the Deal

Finish the piece with a layer of clear varnish, which will preserve your hard work and stop your stlylishly distressed piece becoming genuinely damaged.

Rectangular Solid Mango Wood Birdcage Dining Table

Shop the Round Solid Mango Wood Birdcage here.

The vintage look is here to stay - if you want to include it in your home, then with just a little investment in supplies you can soon be an up-cycling pro! Or if you would rather it be done by someone else... browse our featured vintage looking products here.