D'Arcy Norman

Restoring furniture can be a great way to give a sturdy old piece that may have seen some better days a new life. It's cheaper than buying new, you can make it match your existing furniture or create a whole new style, and you can take the reigns and make it as green as you want.

After picking a piece that won't kill you to strip and restore (remembering that removable seats are much easier to reupholster than a tufted sofa), the most important part of the restorative process is taking care not to breathe in fumes and particulate that might come off during the project. When removing old paint, use rough grit sandpaper (finer grit for bare wood) instead of paint thinner, which is full of toxic fumes. Be sure to wear a mask so you don't inhale the particulate as it comes off the furniture, and do it in a well-ventilated area.

Applying new varnish or paint is your big chance to really green the piece. Choosing primer and paint with low or no Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content is the green way to go, since it won't off-gas and create harmful emissions that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Adding touches like new upholstery for a seat -- we'd recommend something like Mod Green Pod or Q Collection-can add a pop of transformative color, and something as simple as new drawer pulls or other hardware can give an old piece a completely new style. No matter what your style, refinishing furniture can be a great way to get greener home furnishings and save money, too.

[Via: ::Apartment Therapy: Chicago]

Difficulty level: Moderate to advanced