Using Old Furniture in a New Design Scheme

redesign an old chair

Many of us have treasures in our homes that have sentimental value. Family heirlooms evoke positive memories and allow us to honor our traditions. The problem, however, is that they may not suit the style of your home. We have a few suggestions on how to go about using old furniture in a new design scheme.

The first step is to evaluate your style versus the style of the piece to figure out what elements are appropriate for your space. Does it need an update or does the whole thing not work? Understanding how the piece could fit into your new style will help you determine how to approach a redesign.

Re-Tailoring Old Furniture

redesign an old chair

Style is largely about the details, so it may be that the small elements that worked back in the day may be why the piece does not fit now. The more obvious-to-the-eye aspects like the wear and tear or style of the fabric are just the beginning. Does the fabric have a self welt or a contrast welt? Does the cushion need more loft? Does the trim complement the other details of the space? Are there structural aspects that need to be improved while we are at it? These little bits add up to the overall look of the piece and are ripe for change.

The seat of the dining room chair shown above was covered with a worn and dated 70s fabric and was in much need of more loft. We revamped the chair with updated cushioning and a neutral fabric that complemented the newly remodeled modern style of their home. This approach allowed our clients to include the family furniture they loved in their new style.

Covering Old Furniture

formal dining room design

Sometimes it is impossible to alter the style of heirloom furniture enough to allow it to fit into the look of your home. Such was the case with the dining room chairs shown above. Our clients’ family furniture was in a heavy and dark carved style. They wanted to use it in the space however that look was not the direction they were going in for the space. We decided to cover the chairs with fabric that complemented the new clean style. Options abound in slipcovers, chair covers, and skirts, so finding an appropriate option is easy. In this case, the chair had vertical pieces on the back that went up higher than the backrest so we designed a chair cover with openings to take advantage of that detail. We also added decorative elements through buttons and trim, providing a truly custom look. The chairs now work perfectly with our clients’ style.

Designing for the Style of Old Furniture


Chest of Drawers

Hard pieces of furniture like chests, buffets, and desks, are not very easy to alter to support a new look. Fortunately, their beauty can be the very thing that drives the overall design of a space. For example, our client had a gorgeous chest of drawers of tremendous sentimental value for her so it was important that it be included in her home. Even though it has a traditional style, we were able to choose transitional pieces for the rest of the space that complemented the tone set by the chest. Mixing this traditional piece in her more modern design added visual interest as it looked a bit different yet worked well with the overall style.

Don’t assume your treasured old pieces will need to be hidden away in a new interior design scheme. Getting creative with tailoring, covering or relocating pieces may make them the stars of the show. Reach out to us if you need guidance on redesigning your space. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986.







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