Sometimes a piece of furniture fulfills its essential purpose – its a chair you can sit in, a table with a flat surface – but you can’t stand the looks of it. A purely practical person would not consider this a problem. But many of us are, shall we say, more visually oriented. Beauty and design rank right up there with utility. For us, furniture makeovers are in order.

Barb Blair's new book is an inspiring guide for taking ugly hand-me-downs and turning them into design delights, ready for their close-ups. Furniture Makeovers clearly and approachably covers materials, tips, and techniques for restoring, fixing up and generally making nice out of not so nice furniture. 

Blair covers 26 techniques, from the basic preparation you  might need to do (stripping, sanding, repairing and priming) to finishing techniques you may not have heard of (dip-dying? distressing? applying milk paint?) or have heard of but find intimidating (applying gold leaf?!!). 

The book also offers tips for "the hunt," if you don't already have an ugly inheritance sitting in your basement. It also includes a thorough visual glossary of materials, including favorite brands, so that first trip to the hardware store will be a lot less frightening even for a DIY novice.

Blair founded Knack Studios in South Carolina, and her projects have been featured on decorating sites like Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge. Her style is hip and fun, young and exuberant, but not kitschy or cutesy. The book (her first) is published by Chronicle Books ($24.95).

Read it and get inspired! Goodwill is open seven days a week, if you don't have your parents's throwaways or group house leftovers to work on first!

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