Makeover: How to transform old furniture

Makeover: How to transform old furniture

If you have a piece of furniture you don't like anymore there’s no need to throw it away and start afresh, give it a new life by following these easy steps. Here a child’s rattan chair has been given a new look, but the technique used would work for any type of furniture!

What you need

Rough & medium sanding paper
White paint (enough for two coats)
Coloured paint (here a little of purple, green, black & brown)
Napkins (here yellow, bandana pattern & jeans colour)
Red washi tape
Mod podge
Small & medium size paint brushes
Utility knife
White spirit
Newspapers to protect the ground


Alicia Thompson, DIY & Home Décor writer for Bridgman, shares with us her DIY rattan chair project.  Alicia chose a Toy Story theme but feel free to create your own. 

Try to get an idea of how you’d like your furniture to look like before actually starting the makeover. It’s easier to know how where to paint and which colour to use first. Generally try to apply the lightest colour first, and then go for darker colours.

1. Start by cleaning the chair and removing the dust, especially if it’s an old piece of furniture you haven’t used for a long time.

2. Use sandpaper to remove the varnish & smooth the chair. Use brushes or a clean towel to remove all the remaining dust.

4 sanding

3. Paint the furniture entirely with white paint and allow to dry.

5 white painting 2

4. When the first coat is dry, apply a second coat of white paint all over the furniture

5 white painting 4

5. Start painting the parts that require it. Always try to use lightest colours first.

6. Apply two coats for each colour, allowing enough time to dry between each. With a small brush, you can add finishing touches if needed.

6 green painting 3 coats

7. Apply the napkins: it’s what gives nice patterns. This technique is often called “decoupage” because you cut out fabric or paper to stick on your furniture.

a. Cut out the napkins according to the shape of the area you want to cover.

b. Remove the white lining if there is one

c. Apply Mod Podge all over a small area you’re ready to cover.

d. Stick the napkin. Be careful, napkins are usually quite fragile

e. Cover with Mod Podge if you want to give a varnished look to your furniture


8. If you are not able to find napkins with the patterns you want, think about a Plan B. Here, strips of red washi tape are used on yellow napkins to get a cowboy shirt pattern.

11 red stripes 2

9. Use small brushes if you want to draw precise patterns – here a cow waistcoat for example. Don’t forget to apply two coats.

13 cow 1

10. You can apply Mod Podge all over your furniture if you want the paint & napkins to be more resistant. It also gives a nice varnish-finished look.


That’s it! Here is a new kid’s chair that reminds us about two of our favourite Disney Characters: Buzz Lightyear & the Cowboy Woody. We hope you like the end result!

What do you think of this project? Let us know!