Mid Century Modern Thriftstore Makeovers – Part 1- The Hunt

Mid Century Modern Thriftstore Makeovers - Part 1- The Hunt

My challenge: spend next to zero but gain an amazing living room! I mostly blame (lovingly) my mother for this… She taught me about value, how to reupholster and refinish. Living through war times meant being resourceful. Sure, I (you) can just go buy new furniture, very easily. But it is usually cheaply made, NOT meant to last, and has no history. Follow how to made this magic happen…


The chairs:

These chairs were a major find. Yes, I know, ‘right place at right time’ is an understatement! I was waiting in the car downtown when I saw some men taking these beauties out of a church and putting them at the curb side, a few of them. Ooooh, getting so excited, I went to check it out as did someone else across the street. We came to an agreement and shoved three of them into my hatchback. That’s the whole reason I drive a hatchback, by the way.


How do I decide what warrants the work of reupholstery? Take a good look at the piece and ask yourself:

  • Is it a style I like? √
  • Are there major pieces of wood missing or gouged? X
  • Are they sturdy or ‘shaky’? Vintage or just new crap? X
  • Are they soft and saggy? (why?) X


If you go through the work of reupholstery (yourself or commissioned) why pay for too much?! I HATE to buy lots of replacement foam! It is quite expensive for high density foam and if you ‘cheap-out’ it will get ‘saggy’ again soon. That is why cheap furniture doesn’t last long, the foam isn’t the proper density. Soooo, I love old spring type furniture. It lasts great and gives great support. Sure, it seems a bit hard, but you can add a bit of foam and soften out the corners. Good spring systems probably lasted too long, or they are more expensive to make, perhaps that’s why I don’t see them that much anymore, sadly.


Pretty good when there is a brand name plaque. Usually that meant quality. It is only worth the time and effort if you really like the piece.

Chairs, check √ = $0.00


The Tables:

While checking out my favourite thrift stores, I came across this beauty, a classic mid century coffee table. Yes, the top was a mess, but I ran my hand over and felt that it was mostly just in the finish, no gouges. I picked it up by one leg and it was super sturdy. Awesome! And on my way to pay I noticed the serial number branded into the bottom. That MUST be a good thing! Wow, I had no idea until I did a quick search that it is a quite famous Lane Acclaim Series coffee table. Happy face!

Coffee Table, check √ = $8.00


No, pup is not for sale! (Too busy for my pedicure)


Mid Century, art deco, or a bit of cross. (I’ll admit, I hated history class)Back at the thrift store, I just know when I like a shape. These have a nice simple shape and that provides easy up-cycling. Again, no gouges, great handles, and 2 to match, how great is that?!

End tables check √ = $12.00/2




Remember these? They were gold tone, plastic clocks. Makes a great accent piece.

Mirror check √ $5.00


Wonder where to get the art? Make it! Check out my easy tutorial and video. It can be as cheap as can be, especially if you stretch your own canvases. No biggy, give it a shot, no drawing needed, the pendulum does all the work! Very big cool factor. And you will get everyone asking ‘How’d you do dat?’

Art check √ = $25.00

Shag Rug check √ = $200.00 (sorry, no deal)

Sofa check √ = Free (giveaway)


Lamps check √ = Walmart $30.00/2

Lampshades check √ = Thriftstore $8.00/2

Remember the teak birds? They were a popular accent in the mid century decor. I have vivid memories of them and thrilled to find a pair at my favourite thrift store!

Teak Birds check √ = $10.00

Pillows check √ = $15.00 Home sewn (of course)


Ikea bowl check √ = $5.00 thrift store

TOTAL: $0.00 + $8.00 + $12.00 + $5.00 + $25.00 + $200.00(new Rug) + $30.00 + $8.00 + $10.00 + $15.00 + $5.00 = $318.00 plus fix-up supplies. (Maybe I should have made the rug!)

Alright, there you have it! A whole living room all done!

Except the work… See my tutorial how to reupholster the chairs.

Go ahead, amaze yourself! Be unique and impress your friends, it’s all about confidence. You put your mind to it and it can be done, that’s my motto…



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    1. It was a few months in the making. Collecting the pieces is fun, and will take in whatever direction. ‘Much more fun than typical furniture store shopping! You have to visualize… which I now you can do!

    1. Thanks Pattypatch! I have found that you can almost mix anything as long as there are some common threads. Colour is one of the easiest ways to pull odd things together. Therefore ‘paint’ is now my best friend!

  1. Really beautifully put together! I’m an artist as well, but when it comes to interior design, my left brain skills get up and leave me, lol. So jealous!

    1. It really isn’t that difficult! Sometimes taking a picture will let you critique it better; like looking at it in a magazine. I bet you know what you like, and then build from that starting piece… One way almost anything can ‘go-together’ is by colour. Paint is my best friend! Check out this chairs new life:

    1. Well, I never took a course. My mother redid our furniture every few years. It’s kind of like a deconstruction sequence, usually working from the outside bottom (like the skirt) and then making patterns of the pieces and then reconstructing in reverse order. Lots of removing staples, tacks and then more stapling. The thing to consider is that it’s a piece that is worth the effort as the cheap modern furniture will probably not hold up and is meant to wear out. Start with a piece that is mostly wood and then get more courageous. Have you seen this beauty Easy first project. I have seen some classes at schools if they are open soon… And you have the world of google to help!

    1. Hi Barb! Haha, I wear myself out! A lot of this is learned from a great mother who often reupholstered our furniture. Seems like everything nowadays is too disposable. I’m happy to inspire!