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Refinishing old furniture and repurposing or recycling things can be very rewarding. You can make something old into something new and save treasured heirlooms from becoming trash. This "shabby chic" style of decorating is very popular. Boring furniture can be refinished with bright colors and then "weathered" to keep that antique look. Repurposing items is a lot of fun too. Maybe you can use that antique milk can for holding your umbrellas by the front door. The limits are only set by your imagination.

There are lots of items for sale that already have that vintage look, but the real reward and money saving option is to do it yourself. This is called "distressing" furniture. You can make it interesting by using two colors of paint, so that when you distress the piece, you can see the color underneath peeking through. You can also apply a layer of stain after you paint it to give it that aged appearance. This will also mute the color that you have chosen. If you want to keep the exact color that you chose, use a water-based polyurethane as a top coat. This will protect the finish and it won't turn yellow over time.

Start by sanding off the old finish that was there. Be careful, some old furniture has a veneer coating that is not wood, but a print of wood over a hard surface. You cannot sand down veneer, but you can paint over it. Use a satin latex paint to achieve that vintage look that you're going for. Always do a second coat, stain, or polyurethane as a second coat.

If your wood has sharp corners, you may want to sand them down a little so that it looks like it's older and more worn. Give the edges a light sanding and then more heavily sand the areas that would have naturally become more worn over time. Corners and edges around the top can use a little more sanding.

If you want the wood or base coat color to show through in the end, rub a candle along the edges and areas that you want to show through before painting. Paint over the wax for all of your coats. When everything is dry, use a piece of steel wool and rub the areas where the wax is underneath. This will cause the layers to rub away and distress the outer coat a little bit to make it look more realistically worn.

About the Author: Jo Granville is on the staff of Only Hangers, a leading online resource for the largest selection of clothing hanger styles and sizes.For more information, please visit