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3 Furniture Flips to Try in Your Apartment This Spring

Claire Nicholas

By Claire Nicholas

Apr 16, 2024


Spring cleaning certainly entails sanitizing and decluttering until your heart’s content, but if you’re anything like me, your heart might not be content before at least one of the rooms in your apartment has entirely new home decor. Clean is one thing, but fresh is another.  

That’s where furniture flipping comes in handy: You may not be looking to re-furnish your space with a table or couch (especially if you’re trying to save money for those summer weekend getaways) but taking on a budget-friendly DIY project can bring your spring cleaning to a new level. 

Whether your heart will be content with a small side table or a completely new bar setup, here are some DIY furniture makeover projects for beginners to carry you and your apartment from spring clean to summer fresh. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover a new side hustle as a furniture flipper.

Couches & Upholstered Chairs

The difficulty in buying new couches and accent chairs is that many of the cheaper brand-new furniture options on overstock websites — most of which are still hundreds of dollars — will leave you wishing you waited to invest in something more comfortable or high end. But if you’re craving a new look, a secondhand couch or, better yet, a free one on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace can be a more low-stakes way to introduce a fresh focal point to your sitting area. 

A word of advice: Inspect these pieces of furniture closely, especially if they’re free or on the side of the road. If any free furniture you see stinks, has mold, or shows signs of bed bugs, continue your search elsewhere. Even if it doesn’t, still strongly consider cleaning the fabric before you embark on any DIY endeavors like the ones below. 

Try DIY “armchair” reupholstery. The national average cost of couch reupholstery is nearly $2,000. If you don’t have the extra money to spend on updating old furniture, you can instead try to re-cover the couch in new fabric. You don’t even need to remove the old fabric — you can simply use new material (drop cloths, a few yards of new fabric from the craft store, soft sheets from the thrift store, etc.) and staples or brad nails. If you use staples, you’ll also need a staple gun, which you can rent from your local Home Depot.  

Paint — yes, paint — your couch. That’s right, people are painting their couches now. And, perhaps surprisingly, with success! Thankfully, DIY bloggers and influencers are doing the trial-and-error when it comes to painting furniture, so we don’t have to. The key here is to read thoroughly about what worked for people and what didn’t, and to hone in on tutorials that deal with the same kind of material your couch is made of. But keep in mind: if you are struggling to find an example of a DIY paint job with your kind of couch, there may be a reason for that (meaning, don’t go dumping fabric paint on your old leather couch.)  

One TikToker used fabric softener and water to create a faux embossed leather look, reporting that it was perfectly soft and crack-free. Another DIY blogger used water and a special kind of DIY paint to re-color a thrifted velvet couch.  

Tip: If you can, try out test swatches of the same fabric to compare results with different methods and materials.

Bookshelves 

A bookshelf is a perfect addition to a bland wall, especially in a smaller apartment.  Bookshelves turn typically unused vertical space into storage and are generally shallow, so they don’t usurp too much floor space. Plus, with the right materials and a little time to dive into a fun project, you can end up with not just a bookshelf but a charming conversation starter for your favorite room. 

Experiment with the layout of the shelves. Most bookshelves have a standard setup with parallel shelving from top to bottom. For your flip, consider changing the layout of the shelves altogether, adding vertical planes to split sections perpendicularly and invite room for plants or other tall items, or even opt to screw the shelves in diagonally.  You’ll just need to make 45-degree cuts to the short ends of the shelves so they can be screwed in flush to the shelf’s sides. Here’s an example

Another hack: You can also turn your bookshelf into part of your bar setup if you have it set up in your living room or dining room. Just hang glasses from underneath shelves using self-install storage racks.  

Add a curtain to your bookshelf. You can add a homemade curtain to any bookshelf to introduce a new texture, color, or pattern to the room. This can be a great solution for hiding unsightly items like cleaning supplies or linens on a shelf (be sure it’s the top shelf if you have curious little hands or paws in your apartment). If you can sew, this is a great project for you. If not, no worries! You can try a no-sew method.  

Tip: Bookshelves are usually wooden, making them a great opportunity to sand, paint, or refinish to achieve a specific look in addition to changing the layout or adding a curtain.

Coffee and Accent Tables

Having extra surface space in the living room is always useful, whether you’re introducing a coffee table or an end table for lamps, decor, or snacks and drinks. Plus, smaller furniture items make for easier flips if you’re dealing with minimal space for crafting in your small apartment. 

Use your coffee table as a statement piece. Coffee tables present the perfect opportunity to be bold with colors, textures, or patterns. Since they take up space in the very middle of the living room, they’re often a means for artistic expression and taking aesthetic chances. So, when it comes to flipping a boring coffee table, it’s time to channel your wildest ideas. Use stencils to achieve “cottage core” florals or make your own table entirely by mounting an old surfboard or other flat found item on furniture legs, which you can buy on Etsy and other sites.  

Turn to tile for a fresh look. A fun way to give a drab coffee table new life is to sand and re-stain it or paint it and arrange a tile mosaic on the top of the table. If you’re going for an abstract, avant-garde look, you can buy randomly shaped mosaic tiles at craft stores or online. If you’re going for more of a retro, geometric look, you can buy square tiles or other shapes at the tile store. You can even buy pool tiles, each of which are often made of smaller elements like pebbles or hexagons. This is a perfect project for a thrift flip or for a cheaper piece of furniture that you found at a garage sale.

Tip: The internet is your friend. When it comes to refurbishing furniture like coffee and accent tables, you can collect inspiration from other DIY’ers on social media, your favorite furniture brands, learn how to make “dupes,” and even buy homemade items and parts from makers on Etsy and other websites. And i*f it’s your first time with a tool like a sander, make sure you follow a step-by-step tutorial and take all safety precautions.

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