How to: Furniture Makeover – What Design Elements To Accent

Good Morning White Wallers! Today I thought I would share with you all some tips on knowing what design elements to highlight when you are refinishing furniture.  There are times when you just want to make a piece have more depth then a single color or a color and antiquing. Those are fantastic looks too… just nice to know when to go beyond the basics to really make a piece richer looking.

Today I am going to show you a few pieces. And chat about how to refinish items with a WOW factor!

Furniture Makeover #1 – Accenting with Surface Treatments

This is my NEWEST PROJECT… one I am very excited about! A simple small console table. This lil’ gal had two wooden knobs that I switched for these porcelain  ones.  She has some cute spindle legs but overall she is pretty basic with simple lines. Even after I switched out the knobs they still didn’t stand out and nothing said WOW about this lil’ sweetie… Yet!\
Callista coral Paradise shabby paints before uniqely grace homeright paint sparyer chalk


Accent Choices: The legs, these obviously were meant to be some detail built in by the furniture designer of the piece.  I accented these with an ombre fade and some shimmer paint.

Callista Coral logo legs Paradise Shabby Paints Chalk Homeright sprayer uniquely grace glitter drawer table obmre

But I chose to add more. I toyed with the idea of some pull plates (as seen in Furniture Makeover #3 below), a larger design plate that goes behind the drawer pulls. I tried on some appliques and I didn’t like those either. So I went into my craft studio and found the perfect thing! I fell back on one of my most trusted crafting mattos…


So I did… sometimes you have to create your own accents and design elements for your Furniture Makeover. (To find out more on how to create this look and what products I used, see my full post at


Callista Coral logo Paradise closeup Shabby Paints Chalk Homeright sprayer uniquely grace glitter drawer table obmre


This area of the drawer fronts and side panels could easily be accented with wallpaper, decoupage scrapbook or specialty papers instead of glitter.


Final Look! Now that the legs are shimmered and ombred and the drawers AND sides are glittered what do you think? This Furniture Makeover is up for voting on in The Fab Furniture Flippin’ Contest sponsored by HomeRight. I also would appreciate your White Waller Vote!  And don’t forget to leave a comment about Furniture Makeover #1


Coral Paridise logo Gold glitter pearl white revax chalk paint shabby paints homeright paint sprayer sponsored uniquely grace table Callista Coral Paradise logo Shabby Paints Chalk Homeright sprayer uniquely grace glitter drawer table obmre


After painting your base coat these are techniques you can use to accent your Furniture Makeover :

  • Antiquing – usually you apply a glaze into the cracks and crevices of your piece and wipe off the “high” surfaces. (example in Furniture Makeover #2) this is to accent existing 3D elements.
  • Distressing – Scraping or sanding off the paint to reveal the wood surface or paint layer under the top color.
  • Stenciling – done on top of your base coat adding designs from stencils done in a separate color then the base color.
  • Texture – can be added in many ways like: crackle, plaster, adding sand to your paint, glittering, textured wall paper, or even using putty and a stencil to get a textured design.
  • Decoupaging – gluing a decorative paper onto the surface.There are others, really the limit is your own imagination!


FURNITURE MAKEOVER #2 – Accenting existing elements

This next piece is on the opposite side of  furniture refinishing as Furniture Makeover #1. This is a traditional look, no shimmers but beautiful woods. Here is the before…

drab drexel before buffet Vanilla bear


This piece is veneer and very well built! This is a Drexel built in the 1960’s and aside from the cracking and yellowed poly sealer it is in PERFECT CONDITION! They don’t make them like this anymore! After sanding off the sun damaged finish I noticed there were so beautiful woods on the top and around the two lower front drawers.

Accent Choices: Instead of painting all this I chose to accent it with different stains. This burled wood boarder is stunning!


Drexel Buffet 80 inch top view close up vanilla bear hazelnut Revax black burled wood uniquely grace shabby paints


This design element was repeated on the front drawers also…



Drexel Buffet 80 inch front drawer close up angle vanilla bear hazelnut Revax black burled wood uniquely grace shabby paints


Now that accent the wood boarder and top was in my design I decided to leave the original wood finish that was in excellent condition inside the cabinet drawers. I did clean up the pulls on these drawers and let them shine in the original brass.

Drexel Buffet 80 inch top open cabinet right vanilla bear hazelnut Revax black burled wood uniquely grace shabby paints


Final Look:  Using some original finishes, accented, coordinated and matched the original design elements given to this piece by it’s creator. All the detailed molding and carvings were also accented by a technique called “antiquing” it is really easy to do and gives your Furniture Makeover another dimension to the finish. By doing this it is no longer a heavy looking beast but now a stunning, elegant addition to any room. It was designed as a dresser but could be used as a buffet or sideboard. And don’t forget to leave a comment about Piece #2.


Drexel Buffet 80 inch front drawer full length vanilla bear hazelnut Revax black burled wood uniquely grace shabby paints



FURNITURE MAKEOVER #3 – Adding Accents with appliques


Now instead of just adding a surface treatment like I did in Furniture Makeover Piece #1 you can glue on appliques, attach moldings, change or add new hardware and even switch out or add new legs or feet to a piece. These are all add on pieces that add value and style to your makeover item. I wrote about this Furniture Makeover before but it is such a great example of this…

Accent Choice: On this piece I added accented surface details with the white trim like in Furniture Makeover #1 but I also added hand carved appliques, changed out the hinges and hardware knobs and added pull plates.


Antoinette Armoire close up lillian grey black revax snow white shabby paints uniquely grace


Final Look!  Now this plain Jane armorie is fabulously french. This adds 3D elements to create interest and texture.  And don’t forget to leave a comment about Furniture Makeover #3.


Antoinette cool Armoire lillian grey black revax snow white shabby paints uniquely grace

I hope this post gives you some ideas on how to put some oomph into pieces for a good WOW factor! I would love to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to leave a comment or find me on FB or the WW page!

If you like it – PIN IT! If you love it – SHARE IT! If you want to let me know how much – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT!


Have a wonderful day White Wallers! Happy Painting!

L. Grace Lauer

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  • Gluing on appliques is a great way to make furniture look better. The wardrobe you redecorated looks beautiful. The hand carved appliques make it look like a well maintained antique. We’ll have to try this out on a few pieces of our furniture thank you.

  • I am glad that I read this article because I just acquired some old furniture from my grandmother. I liked these tips, especially the one about adding accents with appliques. Hopefully this will bring the furniture to life by giving it a little face lift. Thanks for sharing this.

  • I like how you only touched up parts and not the whole thing. Like in your second makeover the look of the original wooden drawers really added to the look of the cabinet. Sometimes when I do furniture refinishing I feel like I get to crazy and try and redo everything. This was a good lesson on learning that leaving parts as they were can make it look better, thank you!

  • Thanks for sharing some tips for refinishing and redesigning furniture. I like your tip to accent parts of it with a different color. The glitter drawers with the salmon colored shelf looks very cute. I have some furniture that needs to be refinished, but I am not sure that I am crafty enough to complete the job myself. I will probably try and look for a professional who can do it for me.