Victorian furniture: restore or revamp?

Sudley House is filled to the brim with lavish Victorian style and inspiration. Interiors blogger, Alicia Murphy, looks at how up-cycled furniture can get you the Victorian look in any home.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of a period, Victorian home - from their beautiful bay windows and high ceilings to, if you’re lucky, original features including fireplaces, stained glass and beautiful floor tiles.

But is there a way to get this look even in a modern home? Victorian furniture could be the perfect way to pepper your living space with some pieces of unique interest and history.

Whether you’ve had pieces of furniture passed down from family members, sourced them from an antique shop or even found them left behind when you moved into your home, there are plenty of ways to bring them back to life and in line with your ideal interior style.

Here are my top five ideas on how to restore Victorian furniture, plus five ideas on how to give it a new lease of life with a little crafty makeover.

Top tips to restore

Furniture wax

Depending on the age of your piece and how it was made, chances are, if it’s vintage, it’s going to need a little TLC. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to achieve this is with furniture wax – it’s easy to apply, can clean up old dirt and keep’s any prize piece looking almost as good as new. Make sure your surface is completely clean and totally dry before beginning, or you can risk smudging and dullness.

Restore holes and cracks

Due to the age of antique furnishings, small holes or cracks are likely to have accumulated during their lifetime. By using some wax filler sticks, followed by furniture wax, you can minimise or even totally diminish the appearance of these markings.

Waxed and restored dining table

Caring for leather

Time is also no friend to leather, making it dry and worn. Perhaps you have an antique leather chair that needs a little bit of love? Leather wax feeds and nourishes dry leather, leaving it looking plush in no time. I recommend keeping up the leather care once you’re done - regularly applying leather care is simple, quick and easy and makes all the difference in the long term.

Remove stains including ink and water Rings

Often, antique furniture will come with a stain or two in tow, and what you do with this is down to personal preference. Personally, I really like to see the occasional stain as I think it brings the piece to life and tells a story, but if you’re really keen on getting rid, you can try rubbing a small amount of white vinegar onto ink stains or a specialised product like ring remover for water or cup rings.

Clean and restore handles and fittings

If you’d like to keep your original handles and fittings intact (more on refreshing these later on), I’d recommend giving them a little sprucing up. Depending on the material (usually brass or copper), I’d source a metal cleaning product and make sure to remove the fittings from the actual furniture before getting started on the cleaning process - you don’t want any of the product damaging the rest of your piece!

Top tips to revamp

Get creative with a paintbrush

Whether you want to simply add a touch of colour to an old piece of wooden furniture, or you’re pushing the boat out with intricate patterns and custom detailing, one of the easiest ways to upcycle older pieces is by adding a splash of colour. I’d recommend always opting for a good quality furniture paint, and making sure to sand down and dry the piece before getting started on your project.

Upcycled sink cupboard

Add new handles and hardware

If you like the look of traditional wood and don’t want to deviate too far away from your original piece, a quick fix to update it is adding new handles or hardware. You can source these cheaply in many furniture stores, or have a look online for more interesting and unique options.


Reupholstering is one of my favourite furniture transformations and can make such an impact. Whether it’s an old chair or stool, or even a headboard on a bed, getting crafty with some fabric could be the answer to totally transforming your piece. Upholstering sounds a lot more daunting than it actually is, I promise! There are plenty of online tutorials to help you out if it’s your first attempt.

Create a whole new piece of furniture

The item you have doesn’t always need to be the furniture you end up with. Take, for example, an old vintage suitcase - you can use this as a decorative item or a storage item, you could use it in the place of a coffee table, or you could give it a whole new lease of life by adding hair pin legs and creating a totally unique side table.


If you have a piece that you think could be damaged beyond recovery - for example, a dining table that’s totally scuffed, scratched and stained - why not cover it using vinyl? Vinyl around the home is having a major moment - there are so many amazing looks you can create with it and best of all, you can peel it off and start again whenever you fancy a brand, new look.

For more inspiration from Sudley House, you may want to listen to our audio guide, which takes you through the home's top interiors, furniture and art. Or you can explore the articles below.