How to Rework 5 Staple Pieces In Your Home

Photo: Morgan Yeager

Whether it’s a trinket you bought while studying abroad, your father’s favorite armchair, or an old painting passed down from your grandmother, we all have those items at home we just can’t bring ourselves to part with, even if they don’t seem to fit the new aesthetic you’re trying to convey with your living space. Happily, there’s no reason to live in a house divided. Rather than shamefully kicking sentimental staples to the curb, you can easily breathe new life into the pieces. We turned to Matthew Cane, an interior designer in New York City, for five easy fixes that will instantly transform your home.

Strip metals, paints, and woods

We all have had something that is sentimental or what I've heard deemed as “Grandma furniture” in our lives. These pieces are hard to give up when our memories are attached to the item, but when you see it as that one piece, it might be time for an update. Painting and hardware are two of the quickest, easiest and most affordable ways to update a piece. If you're willing to invest a bit more, I'd recommend stripping it, (whether that's metal, paint or stain). This will also help if you want to restain or paint the item. You can always bring it to your local woodworker for advice.

Photo: Nina Choi

Keep your knickknacks

If you're anything like me, I enjoy gorgeous little things around me, at all times. For most of us, knickknacks passed down can sometimes be a let-down or seem boring compared to some other pieces that's in what I like to call “the-vault” aka Mom's house. I always think, well I can't get rid of it because she'll know, so what to do? A couple tips: Dip it. Almost anything can be dipped in a paint, metal, even gold. Dipping can change the piece completely and add a new sophistication you never thought possible. Removing covers off hard-back books. You have no idea what you're going to find under them and sometimes it's gold! You can stack them for use on a table or place under an object to add height.

Photo: Matt Harrington

Find a new purpose for a piece

Have you ever thought that your favorite piece could serve a different purpose than it's intended use? For example, I love testing random objects out to see if they'll function for different uses. I turned a bin upside down and used it as a plant stand / side table, it worked out great! Try testing to see if your piece has other ways it can function and role with it from there.

Photo: Nina Choi

Make a painting more modern

If you're looking to take that piece of art you love and give it an update, the easiest way can be to frame it out. A frame can make all the difference to a piece of art and how it is presented. Choose a clean white, wood or black frame to add a touch of mod. Or opt for a bold, dramatic look with a POP color frame!

Photo: Morgan Yeager

Have your furniture veneered

Another fix you could try is having your piece veneered. You can do this with an adhesive product or have it fitted with a fabric or wall covering. For a bit more buck, take it one step further and have it veneered with mirror, glass, or stone.

Matthew Cane graduated from the Parsons School of Design in NYC and went on to work at Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford before opening his own interior design firm, Matthew Cane Designs. The NYC-based designer’s aesthetic can best be defined by combining livable spaces with an element of “chicness.” For more on Matthew, you can follow him on Instagram.