{Guest Post} Refinishing Second-hand Furniture, Nautical Style


I’m delighted to have Tanya, of The Coral Cove on Frangipani Decor today. Tanya is a freelance writer and interior designer, specializing in nautical décor and she’s here with some interesting ideas on how to upcycle old furniture with a nautical theme. Thanks, Tanya!

For an inspiring nautical look, you can upcycle old or well-worn furniture to create a great new style for your home.  Whether repurposing old tables and chairs you have around the house or refinishing pieces you found at a flea market or second-hand shop, you can achieve a stunning new décor that is as sophisticated or as fun as you want it to be.  Here are some nautical refinishing projects that are easy to accomplish and easy on your pocket book, too.


Seascape Coffee Table

Materials:  coffee table with a flat surface, large old sailing print, decoupage paste, clear coat sealer, primer, navy blue paint, common household tools/items like scissors or sandpaper.

A coffee table with a scratched or marred surface is the perfect candidate for a decoupage project.  If your table has good bones, paint can cover a multitude of blemishes and will breathe new life into the piece.  If the scratches are deep, you may choose to fill them or buff them out before priming.  If you have self-priming navy blue paint, you can actually skip the priming step and get right to the colour!  A thorough paint job usually requires three coats, but with good paint you may be able to get away with two coats.  Choose a print that fits the surface of the table or one that fits within a border of the table top.  After the last coat of paint has dried, glue your print to the top with the decoupage paste.  Be sure to smooth away any bubbles--you want the paper to lay completely flat to achieve a professional look.  Finish the top with a clear coat sealer that won't yellow with age. 

The Captain's Dining Table and Chairs

Materials: dining room table, cane back chairs, paint or wood finish, primer, sealer, nautical fabric, staple gun, optional reupholstering items.

Cane back chairs with a simple square cushion seat are easy to refinish--especially for a first-time refinishing project.  If the cane back isn't broken, you're in luck; if the cane has breaks, it's a good idea to remove it and replace it with a cushion back that you can make yourself.  Depending on the quality of the wood, you may choose to enhance its natural beauty with a wood finish, giving it the rich look of a genuine captain's table.  On the other hand, if the tables and chairs require painting, choose a colour in the nautical palette like white, gunmetal blue, or deep navy blue.  Approach the painting just as you would for the coffee table described above.

Refinishing the chairs will provide a distinctive nautical look.  First, remove the seat and paint the chairs in the desired colour.  While the paint dries, remove the fabric on the seats and replace with a nautical colour--navy blue velvet, for instance.  You may have to replace the cushions before replacing the new fabric using a staple gun.  If you choose to replace the cane with a cushion, you must first find boards that will fit within the chair back's frame.  Cover this thin board with a thin layer of cushioning material (available at any well-stocked sewing or craft store) and cover that with your desired fabric--a contrasting pattern with lighthouses, for instance, may prove just the right look to finish off your set.

Salvage Projects

Materials:  Paint, primer, nails, common household tools

For furniture that is beyond help, consider breaking it down into salvageable parts--especially wood.  Wood boards can be refashioned into wonderful and one-of-a-kind furniture with a nautical theme.  A large old table top can be cut down into boards and reassembled to create a ladder bookcase reminiscent of old ships' deck ladders.  Thick boards can be remade into long benches such as those that sailor's would use to take their mess.  You can also remake old headboards to serve as a boat-shaped platform for a child's bed. 


You can give old and broken furniture a new life with a little creativity and elbow grease.  A nautical theme is a classic look that can be as sophisticated and luxurious as an admiral's cabin or as rustic as the lower deck where the humblest sailors once slept.  You can easily find inexpensive furniture at thrift stores or yard sales to practice on and browsing through design books will provide you with a treasure trove of ideas to adapt to your nautical theme.


Images courtesy The Coral Cove.

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