Getting hand-me-down furniture is a great way to keep good stuff out of landfills. But if your new-to-you pieces need a little refreshing, it can be hard to know where to start. Blogger Dinah Wulf of DIY Inspired explains how she “glammed up” a play table she received from a friend. You can adapt her simple steps to almost any furniture face-lift project.

Disney princess chair before makeover
When rescuing furniture, look for pieces that have a solid structure. Photo: Dinah Wulf

One of my best friends gave me a Disney princess table set when she moved. I loved the shape of the chairs and the storage pocket in the center of the table; however, it was a little worn from use. I took on the table and chairs as a DIY project and glammed them up a bit — Hollywood Regency style. This project required priming and painting as well as adding seat cushions, a monogram, and a clear crystal knob.

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Step 1: Sand and prime

I used a light sandpaper to remove a few old stickers and then cleaned the surface. Even though the surface was already smooth, I decided to prime it first. Two coats of primer worked perfectly. (When priming, make sure the first coat is completely dry before you add the second.)

play table after priming
For furniture with scratches and a dark pattern, prime it first. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 2: Add paint — and protection

Next, I painted both chairs and the table with two coats of white paint. After the paint dried completely, I used painter’s tape to mark off my Hollywood Recency–style design on the table top. 

Next, I painted my design and the storage cover blue. I also used the blue paint for the balls on the bottom of the table and chair legs. When the paint was completely dry, I used two coats of polyurethane to protect the furniture from its future encounters with crayons and markers!

underside of seat showing fabric attachment
Pull the fabric taut while stapling the fabric. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 3: Add cushions

For the seat cushions, I used circular wooden plaques. I filled them with polyester fiber fill, covered them with fabric, and stapled the fabric to the wood on the bottom. In regard to cutting the fabric, I find that it’s best to keep some extra material (see the above photo) and trim it after you’ve finished attaching it.

I glued the seat cushions to the chair with extra-strength wood glue and added a self-adhesive monogram. I also added a few coats of decoupage medium to seal in the monograms. Finally, I reattached the storage pocket and added a knob to the lid.

completed play table makeover
The children’s play table after the makeover. Photo: Dinah Wulf

I have had this table now for more than two years and it’s still in great shape. My daughter uses it every day. It’s definitely one of my favorite trash-to-treasure pieces.

Feature image: Dinah Wulf, DIY Inspired

Editor’s note: Originally published on February 4, 2014, this article was updated in April 2019.