When you choose to restore furniture instead of buying new, you're helping the environment in many ways - most of the time. But, you need to ensure that you're using eco-friendly restoration practices.
1. Go Shopping
Find places to buy old wood furniture that you can easily turn into something new or simply refurbish as it is. Try looking online at buy/sell groups as well as flea markets, yard sales, the side of the road and even the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
2. Clean It Up
Try cleaning your furniture with safe for the environment cleaners like vinegar and water, a vegetable-based soap, or an environmentally friendly paint stripper. You can go to your local hardware store or order online. Follow all the directions for cleaning, stripping, and disposal of old paint.
3. Sand It
Sanding naturally adds pollution into the environment, so you'll need to wear a mask and find a way to collect as much of the dust as possible. You can use this dust for other projects, or dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.
4. Keep It Simple
Often, for some types of wood all you need to do is strip it, add some fresh hardware or clean the hardware carefully, and then refinish it with beeswax or environmentally friendly oil. For wood, often the simplest is the best and most attractive.
5. Document It
Sometimes, you may need to totally take apart the furniture to restore it. It might help to photograph and document everything so that you can remember how to put it back together.
6. Get Used Parts
Don't buy brand new knobs or pulls; instead, look to eBay and other used stores to find the right parts to make your refurbished piece stand out. Alternatively, you can clean up the old ones if all of them are there.
7. Use Green Paints
You may prefer to paint your piece. There are a variety of eco-friendly paints to choose from these days, and you won't need to sacrifice vivid colors.
8. Take It Slow
Refurbishing furniture takes a lot of work. You'll need to research each piece to find out what works best. You can do that on YouTube and Pinterest. You can also buy books about refurbishing and how different textiles work together. Most of all, take it slow so that you don't have to fix mistakes. For example, let your piece dry completely between each activity.
Furniture restoration is a great way to reduce garbage in landfills and turn something into an heirloom that generations of your family will love and cherish. Even if you have to turn that broken antique cedar chest into a smaller version of itself, it will be highly appreciated and valuable.