The Real Cost of Repurposing Furniture

I have wanted to write this blog for a while. I go to craft shows, shops and our local trade days where I sometimes hear shoppers commenting on the cost. “I could do that.” is frequently heard as well as comments about prices. Now you know that I am always looking for a deal! And by deal I mean a steal. I love to find furniture, cheap or preferably free, then repurpose the piece into something unique. It is my hobby, and I am not trying to live off selling my goods. We would STARVE! I always try to let you know the cost, which is usually less than a brand new piece would be, but I think that there is a misconception from time to time about the real cost of repurposing the furniture.

Right now I am redoing a piece of furniture I literally picked up on the side of the road. The cost for the furniture – ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS.
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In order to get the piece repurposed I decided to buy everything new for this project. I needed to replenish supplies anyway and sometimes even I forget that this is a hobby and the supplies are expensive because I only buy things as I run out.

The costs are rounded- because I am lazy!
Purdy paintbrush- the best and worth the cost- 12.00
Behr Revival Mahogany paint with primer- one quart- I could have probably gotten by with two samples @ $3.00 each, but I knew I would need the left over for the faux fireplace I am doing- $16.00
Behr Innocence- one quart- the giant dresser used almost a whole quart- the leftover paint was used to paint Baby Boy’s bookcase. $16.00
Zinzer Primer- one quart- $10.00
Glazing medium- one quart Behr Faux Finish glazing medium. I use this all the time and it lasts forever but it was time for a new container- $15.00
Sandpaper for hand sanding and the palm sander $5.00
Rustoleum Poly- one quart- $15.00

Hours spent on the project- 1 hour checking it out, calling Hubby, getting the beast into the vehicle, out of the vehicle and home. 3 hours sanding. 4 hours priming, re sanding, then priming again. 4 hours painting the creamy white color. 1 hour painting handles. 1 hour painting the top. 1 hour glazing. 3 hours polyurethaning the whole thing. Oh! This does not include dry time, moving time and reassembly.

So all in all we have close to $80.00 in supplies and the equivalent of one hard weekend’s worth of time invested. In a free piece of furniture! The next time you see someone’s work online, in a shop, or at a vendor’s booth and you say to yourself… ” I could do that WAAAY cheaper, the truth is provided you find the right piece, you might could save a little money doing it yourself but it won’t be as cheap or easy as you may initially believe and your time is worth something.

If you are in a shop when you see this piece also figure in overhead costs.

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credenza from the stairway

roadside credenza

It is a lot of work to re-purpose furniture, but it is ever so worth the effort! I love the satisfaction of doing a good job and bringing something back to life.

8 responses to “The Real Cost of Repurposing Furniture”

    • Thank you, Chris. I am so excited to get the piece finished this weekend! It already looks great, I just need to Clare the top and handles then distress and poly it. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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  1. Thank you for letting others know how hard we work. You even left out how much is spent on learning to do this correctly with a fantastic finished product. I am not sure about you but in the begining when I was first learning how to do faux finishes then into antiquing and distressing and over to chalk paint and glazing I went through several ‘do overs’ that cost product as well as a lot of extra sand paper (lol) and sooooo much time! To get to a point that you can produce a piece you feel is good enough to sell your finished product it has taken a lot of mess ups, hard work, and money. This is not saying I personally do not still manage to create blunders here and there that I have to redo to meet the quality that I feel is necessary to have the privilege of someone else loving in their home. The one good thing after doing this for years, sometimes the mess up’s end up looking great and the piece changes my mind on what it is going to look like!! lol

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    • Thank you for reading my blog. I admire people who repurpose and reimagine furniture so much! I do what I do as a hobby and mental break from a very stressful job. I too have completely started over on more than one piece as I tried new techniques. (Using a sprayer to paint furniture was a personal disaster!) Keep making things beautiful.

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  2. That piece is gorgeous! The primary reason I could never, ever charge for my work by the hour is that I’m not sure it’s fair to penalize my clients for my mistakes, indecisiveness and perfectionism-ness. By the time I finish most pieces I’m paying the customer to take it home just so I don’t redo it yet again! To minimize my material costs I always use paint I have in stock (that I picked up for less than $5 as a mistint or was given for free) and use scrap wood for trim, etc. On the off chance I have to pick up material for a project, I’m always heading to a thrift or salvage shop before opting for retail (and even then I don’t ever pay full price). Cheap runs through my veins!

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    • I wish I had more time to search out mistint paint and shop the Restore but, just like so many who think you pros overcharge, I work 45 or more hours a week at my job so my time is limited. I don’t think that people realize that is a part of your job that is time consuming too.

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  3. Mis-tinted paints are good for multi projects but for one item I like the sample paint at ACE Hardware they are pint size and under $5.00 each. Lowe’s are smaller and cost the same price, and most paint stores have mis-tints some places will even try to re-tint them for you when you purchase a gallon if don’t need a gallon go smaller. Most states don’t allow paint in the landfills. I have been doing painted furniture for over 7 years with friends and sell our work in an old barn.
    A lot of work goes into every piece I truly understand the hard work, effort, time, and money it took to finish your dresser. Thank you so much for sharing all the steps needed to finish your project. You did a great job!!

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    • Thanks! I I love oops paints, and for any small project I use sample sized paints. I am all about reducing what goes into a landfill. I wish I had the opportunity to paint furniture full time. One day…

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