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How to Restyle and Refresh Second-Hand Furniture

Picture of second-hand furniture, such as tables and sofas
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Buying second-hand furniture is cheaper and is also more environmentally- friendly. You might also want to update old furniture you already own, change the style of it, or even customise it. There are lots of ways you can update furniture, and your imagination and creativity can help you transform things.

This article offers some of the basic steps anyone can take to restyle and refresh second-hand furniture.


A great way to update and refresh upholstered furniture is to reupholster it. Changing the fabric can update the style and completely change how something looks. Reupholstering a piece of furniture is a relatively easy project and you can easily do it from your own home.

You will need a few key materials, which may vary depending on the item you choose to reupholster. Upholstery fabric comes in all kinds of colours and patterns and is readily available in shops like the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, so the hard part is choosing which fabric you like best. This company in particular is a popular choice as they stock exclusive and designer fabrics, including leather and velvet, which means you can create a piece that really stands out.

It might seem daunting to begin with, but reupholstering furniture can be done by anyone, providing you have the right materials. If you need step-by-step guidance, there are lots of great online tutorials and guides to follow, and the results will be worth it.


For furniture items that are made from wood, refinishing them can be a great way to alter their style and make them look new again. Sanding down and re-staining or varnishing wooden furniture items will help to remove cracks and marks and give them a natural but improved finish.

Alternatively, you could go for a bolder look and paint them a bright colour, or perhaps a toned down white-wash would better suit your taste.


Sometimes, the only thing your second-hand furniture needs is a very thorough clean. If the style and colour is right, a deep clean can help refresh the wood or fabric and remove built-up layers of dirt, grease, or any stains.

Wooden Furniture:

To refresh wooden furniture, a solution of white vinegar and olive oil can do the trick, but choosing a small test area first can help ensure you get the results you want. Simply wipe away the dust and then spray your solution over your furniture, then use a clean cloth to gently rub in circular motions.

You should see your cloth change colour as the dirt and grease is removed. The white vinegar helps to lift dirt and grease, whilst the olive oil replenishes the moisture in the wood. The natural colour and shine will soon be restored, and you can admire your hard work!

Sofas and Other Upholstered and Soft Furniture:

When it comes to cleaning upholstered furniture, a little more work is required. If you have purchased a second-hand sofa for example, there can be a lot of problems to tackle before you bring it inside your home:

  1. The first step to cleaning upholstered furniture and sofas is to hoover them. Make full use of the smaller attachments and brush attachments, make sure you reach every nook and cranny, remove cushions, and keep an eye out for any signs of other pests that may have made a home.
  2. After hoovering, you will want to disinfect and remove any stains and odours. Store-bought cleaners are fine- just make sure you test them on smaller, inconspicuous areas first. Avoid cleaners that contain bleach, as this can damage the fibres and alter the colour. Baking soda is a great way to remove odours, as it combats bacteria and excess moisture. Once again, test it out first, just in case! If the cushion covers are removable, it might even be possible to wash them on a cold wash and gentle setting. Just don’t put them in the dryer, as this could shrink them!
  3. This last step is optional, but it can be a good idea to spray an insecticide in all the cracks, and over the item in general. Make sure the insecticide is pet-friendly and you can safely spray it in a well-ventilated area, and leave it alone for up to 24 hours- but always follow the instructions on the can or bottle. Pests such as mites, fleas, and bed bugs can all live and lay eggs on soft furniture items, and the last thing you need is an infestation!


Whatever way you choose to restyle or refresh your furniture, you should take the time to appreciate your hard work. Unfortunately, many things end up going to the tip and spend years in landfill, so appreciating second-hand furniture can make a positive difference to you and the world.

There are lots of creative ideas and inspiration out there to admire, and spending the time to refresh and restore older items can make you appreciate them more, as you put love and hard work into making them shine again.

So, sit back, relax, and feel good about the effort you put in and the results that you have achieved.