By Domino Staff

Published on April 8, 2015

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

When I moved out of my parents' house and into my very own studio apartment, it was, of course, necessary to buy new furniture. However, in the interest of keeping the decor interesting and eclectic (and keeping the budget down a bit!), I decided to incorporate some vintage pieces in addition to all of the new items. Luckily for me, my Mom had found a few gems at thrift stores over the years, including a vintage furniture set (probably from the 1960's or 70's), consisting of a bookshelf, headboard, desk, vanity, mirror, and bench. Painted a rather unattractive green and sporting some strange material on the top, the pieces left much to be desired. However, I could see some potential in the dresser, and had always longed for a vanity, so I decided to attempt a DIY makeover. With a little paint, some new hardware, and a bit of imagination, these ugly ducklings have been transformed into beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces.

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

I strongly disliked the green hue of this vanity, and the hardware (which has been removed in this picture) was rather old and rusty looking. However, I did like the bones of the piece – the architectural details on the legs and front of the drawers are unique details that you don't see on big-box furniture. 

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

There was also a big, grand, matching mirror, which to me seemed really special and a bit Victorian looking. I also knew a big mirror would be perfect for bouncing light around and making the tiny space into which I was moving seem bigger. Making this piece over was simple! I just used black paint and then roughed it up with a little sandpaper for a distressed, lived-in look.

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

I also added hardware from Anthropologie for a modern but feminine look. I think the floral knobs add a great pop of contrast. The dresser was an excellent piece when you looked past the 70's looking green hue and seen-better-days hardware.

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

It's on legs, which helps to impart a feeling of lightness to a large piece (essential in small spaces!), it has lots of drawers (which equals lots of storage – another must for small apartments), and its long length actually happened to perfectly fit the space in which I planned to place it.

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Photography by Jacqueline Clair

After painting the dresser white and adding the same floral hardware that I used on the vanity, this became a perfect piece to hold lots of clothing while also acting as a console table and a TV holder. The perfect multi-tasker for a small studio apartment! Overall, I'm really happy to have repurposed old pieces and given them a new life. Vintage furniture adds a certain charm and character to a space that can't be replicated with brand new items, and I feel that had I used exclusively new furniture, my apartment wouldn't have the same interest and originality. So no matter how ugly a piece of furniture is, try to envision it in a new way! You might be pleasantly surprised with what you wind up with.