What to look for when buying furniture to reLove

What to look for when buying furniture to reLove

I have been asked several times over the past few months, what to look for when buying furniture to reLove. So I wanted to share my criteria with you on what to look for when purchasing vintage furniture to repaint.What to look for when buying furniture to reLove I have been asked sWhat to look for when buying furniture to reLove


The very first thing I look for is solid wood. If the piece is made from particle board or laminate, that is usually a deal breaker for me.

Next, I look at the construction and how well it’s made. Do the drawers have dovetail joints? Are they just nailed (or worse stapled) together? Does the piece have good bones? Are there any finely carved details? Anything special or unusual about the piece?

I also look for markings indicating the manufacturer. Sometimes you can find a stamp, stencil or label inside a drawer or on the back. If you find the piece to be made by a reputable company, it is usually a good indication of the quality and durability. Plus, I think its just fun to know the history behind the furniture! Wouldn’t that be awesome if someone made a sort-of-Ancestry.com for furniture! I’d be on there all day!!

Bauman Bros of California

Damage: Cosmetic vs. Structural

One of the biggest factors to consider when buying furniture to repaint is damage. You need to really examine the piece and decide what type of repairs you can handle and how much time you are willing to invest. You also have to know when to just walk away…

(now ask my barn if I take my own advice??!!)painted vintage reloved furniture

Don’t let cosmetic damage scare you though. Scratches, scuffs, dents, and bruises can easily be repaired. Loose joints can be tightened and re-glued. Chipped veneer can be patched, but if large pieces are missing, that’s a bigger project. It’s not hopeless though.

loose dovetail joints

Do the drawers open and close easily? If not, why? Broken or missing drawer glides can be fixed or replaced… a warped drawer, however, not so much…

I usually shy away from structural cracks and broken wood. If half of the side is busted off, and the guts are missing- that might be a bigger project than I’m looking for (or is it?…)

Think Outside the Dresser

Lastly, I NEVER, EVER, EVER give up on a piece of furniture without putting on my repurposing glasses*- Dressers can be made into TV Consoles, Bookcases, or Coffee Tables. Drawers can easily function as display shelves, or the fronts can become reLoved signs or chalkboards.

*Repurposing Glasses ~n~ (re·pur·pos·ing glass·es)

1. Imaginary optical instrument consisting of a pair of lenses for improving creative vision, allowing the user to view objects with a new purpose and function.

2. The reason I am booked on an upcoming episode of the show Hoarders and currently banned from purchasing any more furniture from CraigsList. See my CraigsList Junkie post

Now speaking of repurposing glasses, my friends over at Dave & Jayne’s Furniture Fix have the most awesome eye for repurposing around! I wanted to share two of my favorite “fixes with you. These guys really know how to “think outside the dresser”

This used to be a orphaned dresser with a missing drawer. Dave cut it down, and made it into this beautiful cabinet that can serve as a coffee table, TV console, or bench at the foot of the bed! I’m convinced, I NEED this in my life!

This one is a true original!! They had a dresser with no drawer so Dave cut it down to make this beautiful cabinet. can be used as a coffee table.......a TV stand, or just at the foot of your bed for extra storage with it's three drawers!!

Dave and Jayne’s Furniture Fix

And how’s this for unique? Here’s another dresser that was missing the top drawer. It was cut down and repurposed into this cute little chair, with a bottom drawer for storage. The remaining drawer became the ottoman! G-E-N-I-U-S!!!

Dresser was missing the top drawer, so we cut her down to a chair leaving one drawer and using the other drawer for an ottoman!

Dave and Jayne’s Furniture Fix

Please stop by Dave and Jayne’s Furniture Fix Facebook page, and let them know what wonderful fixer’s they are!

I’d love to hear from you. What’s on your list when looking for furniture to repaint? …Have I missed anything? What’s a deal breaker for you?


  1. Sherri,

    I have been “rescuing” furniture for ever! Your site is a wonderful go-to for advice and inspiration. As soon as I get my blog up and going, I’d hope to link to yours. Thanks a ton!

  2. Hey Sherri,
    Thanks for sharing your above thought.It’s really important to check your furniture at time when you buy it. It’s our duty to do this. It’s really necessary when we buy antique furniture. Because we find traditional look on those antique furniture.

  3. Judith

    Just wondering if you ever leave a piece alone and don’t paint it because it is just so beautiful the way it is, or that it is a valuable antique that painting would destroy it’s value…?????

    • Sherri

      Hi Judith, Absolutely!! There’s lots of times I don’t paint a piece because of its natural beauty. Sometimes they just need cleaned up (which you have to be very careful even cleaning if you are at all concerned with the antique value) Then there are pieces that have so much potential without paint. I recently refinished a set of dressers for my own bedroom, that I stained with a dark color for the tops and body and a lighter color on the drawer fronts. The wood grain is just gorgeous!! So for me, it really depends on the piece.

      • Judith

        So glad to hear that Sherri, being an olde lady (74) and having had several antique shops in my day, in fact, opening a booth in one soon to cut back on the clutter and SSCHTUFF in this big 2 story, 3000 sq. ft. house on 4 acres in the middle of NOWHEERE (Anza Borrego Desert), I have seen and refinished and as you say, cleaned, beautiful pieces…it kind of hurts to see a beautiful piece painted, knowing full well that SOME day, someone will realize what it WAS and want to restore it…When I was a little girl, the trend for my Mom was to cut the legs off of EVERYTHING in order to make it look “MODERN.” Even gorgeous old Pedastal Dining Room tables had the pedastal cut to make it into a coffee table….so sad…..

        Anyway, thanks for answering my request, you do beautiful work and if I were younger, I would enjoy doing it too, but will leave that for you youngsters ti enjoy doing….LOL Have a blessed day.

        • Sherri

          Oh, thank you Judith!! I have a dresser now, that as you say, someone tried to “modern it up” and cut off the legs!! Oh, how I wish it had its legs!!!
          Good luck on your booth, I wish you a blessed day as well :)

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