Looking to give a piece of vintage furniture a serious reboot? Refinishing furniture is not for the faint of heart. We can safely say we’ve made our share of DIY mistakes over the years, but luckily, we’ve found a guiding light. Enter Scout Design Studio, a Dallas-based firm who has made mastery of the refinishing trade.
A simple scroll through their Instagram feed shows you why. With high-gloss lacquer, contemporary upholstery, acrylic legs, and refinished brass accents, the Scout team transforms castaway furniture into covet-worthy pieces. While they specialize in refinishing, Scout also offers a line of exclusive, limited-run pieces. Their 15,000-square-foot studio, located in the heart of Dallas’s Design District, features both new and vintage designs, as well as a carefully curated collection of artwork, lighting, and accessories.
We’ve tapped the “Scout Pack” to share some advice on refinishing (and thus, transforming!) vintage pieces, whether with a glossy coat of lacquer or updated upholstery.
Follow @ScoutDesignStudio to peruse their inventory and find design inspiration.
Shop the Scout Design Studio collection via their website.
Know the difference.
Lacquer is skillfully sprayed in many thin layers to create a smooth, hard surface that cannot be achieved with regular enamel based paint. Known for its durability, lacquer can transform cast-to-the-curb furniture into modern showstoppers that will stand the test of time.
Focus on the details.
The beauty of vintage furniture is in the bones. If you love the shape and detail of something, ignore its ugly finish. Lacquer illuminates the surface and accentuates details in the furniture that are otherwise lost in the background. Carved drawers and sabot feet suddenly pop against a lustrous finish. Original hardware that would cost a fortune today can be polished to a bright shine.
A grey campaign dresser transformed with high gloss grey lacquer.
Select the right color.
Are you refinishing a family heirloom or a thrift store find? Go bold and trendy with a piece you found on the cheap, stay neutral with something you intend to keep forever.
Remember lacquer doesn’t have to be glossy.
We love a crisp glossy piece of furniture as much as anyone, but satin and matte finishes are beautiful (and timeless) alternatives.
This grey credenza was transformed with soft grey high gloss lacquer and polished brass ornate hardware and sabots.
Lacquer is a great way to spice up monochromatic upholstered goods. Dismal tone-on-tone chairs are easily revived with lacquered frames and a modern print.
Leave it to the pros.
The application process is labor intensive and requires a dust free environment as well as adequate prep. Lacquer’s quick dry time leaves little room for error. Invest in professional refinishing and you’ll own a piece that’s uniquely yours and can be enjoyed for many years.
A pair of navy nightstands transformed with high gloss navy lacquer and polished brass hardware.
Determine if lacquer is right for you.
Lacquer can be applied to many veneers, but it is not recommended for Rosewood or Mahogany as the oils in these woods tend to bleed through the finish. As with any refinishing, it is important to consider the pedigree of your furniture and the risk associated with modifying an original piece.
Experiment with different textures.
Don’t feel locked into one particular fabric style with existing pieces. We love mixing textures, patterns and color in a room. While monochromatic vibes can be great, don’t shy away from some statement swivels or a well placed upholstered accent.
SCOUT DESIGN STUDIO TRANSFORMATION
This pair of purple velvet chairs is enhanced with fresh brass plating on the frame and plush violet velvet, which make for a lovely and modern pairing.
Look for good bones, and build from there.
With vintage pieces, it is sometimes hard to see past dated lines, less than stellar upholstery and excess rouching. All of these things can be addressed with quality upholstery; it is important to look for the right dimensions for your space and overall shape. From there, the rest can be tailored to achieve your vision. Don’t forget fun details like plinth bases or contrast welting.
SCOUT DESIGN STUDIO TRANSFORMATION
These Scout exclusive ‘Linden’ barstools were reimagined with 2 tone upholstery.