Furniture Makeover Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,861 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,721 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …

For this week’s Make It Easy/Furniture Makeover Beginner Level Merit Badge, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Step One of earning this handy-dandy badge? Settling in to watch some DIY furniture tutorials.

I love me a good tutorial.

Confession: I even love a bad tutorial. Laughter is the best medicine after all, don’tchaknow.

I plead guilty to …

… already having a whole collection of DIY, upcycling, recycling, thrifting, re-imagining furniture tutorials, clippings, recorded shows on the DVR, ideas, pins, and the like. The problem was … I hadn’t actually attempted to accomplish such things. I mostly liked looking at them with stars in my eyes.

My intentions for that chartreuse chaise that I had rescued from the curb one summer? I could picture it all snazzy and sophisticated with a toile makeover. And yet, it was as chartreuse as ever and was hidden away in my garage. That ugly-as-sin nightstand with the broken drawer? I always knew its full potential could be realized … but not thus far. It was time to start a 12-step Recovery Program for Unwanted and Abused Furniture.

photo by apartment28 via Wikimedia Commons

Would this make me the Stacy London of furniture? What Not to Uhhh … Sit On? I expect a call from TLC posthaste.

Speaking of which, I got down to business watching some handy programs focused on my new love. I chose to binge watch responsibly view all seasons a few carefully selected episodes of Junk Gypsies. Then I got hooked on discovered Mountain Modern Life, where I got all excited to upcycle everything but the kitchen sink (and quite possibly the kitchen sink, too—how cute would it be painted pink?), and even how to remodel your old RV.

I was falling down a rabbit hole of DIY obsession, and knew I had to take a break and actually attempt to put some of my newfound knowledge to the test.

After all, I had a chartreuse chaise lounge and a nightstand staring at me with woeful eyes.

This was, remember, the Beginner Level, so I knew not to bite off more furniture than I could chew. I chose the nightstand. First, I scraped off some super-hero stickers that some rugrat had applied in a very haphazard fashion (They make store-bought concoctions just for stuff like this, but rubbing alcohol usually works just as well. I know this from trying to remove price tags from picture frames.), and then I cleaned it up with a rag and some oil polish. Next, I removed the broken drawer entirely to use for another project. (A hanging shelf? A catch-all? An under-the-bed storage solution? A sweet desktop organizational tool? Only my hairdresser knows.) Then, I cleaned out the hole it left behind, painted it a contrasting color, and went shopping for a new knob for the cabinet.

Shopping, binge watching DIY shows, and getting a new piece of one-of-a-kind furniture in the bargain? I’d say this is a badge to end all badges, if I do say so myself.

Need some easy-peasy, lemon-squeasy motivation to get you started on your own Beginner Level badge? Check out some of these basics to float your (upcycled) boat:

  • Did you know you can paint upholstered furniture? Um, yes, please. For those of who are nail-gun challenged, a paint brush is a neato option. Just add Fabric Medium to regular paint (Martha Stewart makes one).
  • Use your mismatched spoon collection and an old shutter to make a shelf with hooks. Bend the spoons and attach with heavy duty glue, or drill.
  • Just changing the hardware on a piece like a dresser makes all the difference in the world.
  • A coat of paint is super simple and will give new life to just about anything.
  • Try decoupage or contact paper or stenciling.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have always admired people who can take something in bad shape and turn it into a treasure. On the surface it looks easy, but I know it takes a lot of creativity and elbow grease. Not to mention a healthy dose of knowing how to properly use various tools. When I actually think about purchasing a piece to do a make-over, I feel overwhelmed and all the possible problems stop in my tracks. I think the DIY needs to come with a person to hold your hand for the first project!

  2. I don’t think I’m a good candidate for any DIY furniture projects. Let’s see- I bought 6 bottles of fancy spray- on- anything paint in a great sage green color to redo my outdoor furniture and wicker 3 years ago . Well one piece got done right away and the paint is actually wearing off now but nothing else got done at all. There is the broken rocker, and 2 wooden fold up chairs and so forth. Nope not my thing, altho I totally admire those who do it.

  3. Cindi says:

    Doing something like this has been on my wish list for a long time. Shoot, my mom used to refinish, refurbish, reupholster and restore so much, why can’t I, right? Well… cool ideas should come with an automatically induced kick in the rear. Maybe today I will go get something to hold the trunk lid down so I can load that perfect little dresser at St. Vinnie’s into the car and bring home my own treasure.

  4. Amy Cloud Chambers says:

    I have a basement full of potential masterpieces (hee hee). All I need is inspiration and time. Thanks for providing #1, now all I have to do is find #2. Thanks for the smart advice on starting small!

  5. Karlyne says:

    I’m off to find two old crummy nightstands to re-do for our new bedroom! And I promise not to leave them in the garage. Mostly because it hasn’t been built yet…

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