DIY Thrift Flip & Furniture Makeover Tips

thrift shop nightstand makeover

I partnered up with a group of amazingly talented makers this holiday season to makeover a nightstand for a Thrift Flip Collaboration to raise money for Habitat For Humanity this holiday season! I get asked about tips for restoring and making over furniture all the time, and thought this would be a great opportunity to share my process! I also got my hands on some new tools to make projects like this more approachable, and cannot wait to share!

Thrift Flip & Furniture Makeover Tips

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot and is part of the ProSpective program. It contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure & sponsorship policy, click here.

Want to see my newest thrift flip project in action? Check it out on my YouTube channel! You can also donate to Habitat via the donation button next to my video on YouTube!

When I first started blogging, I loved sharing fun thrift shop flips! So, when The DIY Mommy asked me to be part of a thrift flip charity event, I jumped at the opportunity to stalk my local thrift shop and find a piece to restore! Here’s the piece I found…
… and here is what it looks like now!
Not insanely different, but (literally) elevated! Here are some furniture makeover tips to share how I brought this piece to life!

1. Refinish With Finish In Mind

Not all thrift flips are created equal… so it’s important to know what you are working with before you start refinishing your piece! When I restored my great grandfather’s record cabinet I could have sworn it was solid wood, only to find that my aggressive sanding exposed layers of veneered plywood (no fun). So, after learning my lesson the hard way, I now start sanding my wooden pieces with 120 grit to start.

Starting at a slightly higher grit and going slow limits the risk of ruining the veneer (just in case it’s not a solid piece). It also helps preserve as much wood as possible and makes finish sanding so much easier later!

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all sanders are created equal! I am so happy that I have my Dremel 8220 Series Rotary Tool with 30+ Accessories in my workshop for projects like this! There is literally an accessory for every little job on a flip!

2. Clean Your Piece

Old pieces come with old stories… and old grime. So, it’s super important to scrub the pieces you get from the thrift shop. I love using my Dremel Versa Scrubber for these jobs! 

For really stubborn scuffs and stains, I use the Dremel Kitchen Scour pads. These abrasive pads are amazing for scuffs and stuck on grime. I use them to clean the stubborn marks and then finish sand my piece following their use.

3. Accessorize!

Sometimes the easiest thing to do to elevate a thrift shop find is to add some flare! I love adding legs and bases to my piece, but upgrades can be as simple as using new knobs!

4. Choose The Right Finish

A lot of people jump straight to painting a thrifted piece of furniture because they are intimidated by the finishing process of wooden furniture. However, certain stains help bring a piece back to life in such amazing ways! Need a rich finish with great coverage (but still want to admire the grain pattern)? Choose a gel stain!

Using a gel stain on my great grandfather’s record cabinet completely saved it!

Do you have any tips for upgrading thrift shop finds? I’d love to know!

In the meantime, you can save these tips for later by Pinning This post!

Sam Raimondi

Sam is a full time psychologist and part time content creator from Long Island, New York.



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