Designer Dana Gibson of Richmond, Va., is always browsing flea markets and consignment stores for treasures, and she’s not afraid of putting in some time to make them look good. Here are her tips for updating vintage furnishings:

1. If you need a fresh coat of paint for old wicker or wood, go with a warm, creamy white. Gibson’s favorite: Rust-Oleum’s Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray in Heirloom White, which has a built-in primer.

2. Use slipcovers to create a casual, lived-in vibe. Gibson’s cottage came with two old sofas. She didn’t want to spend a lot of money reupholstering them, so she chose ready-made off-white slipcovers.

3. Freshen beat-up metal furniture. Gibson loved the patina of an old table. But she wanted to clean the rough metal top before she put it in the living room. She sanded off the old dirt and rust and used Benjamin Moore’s Benwood Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane to seal it.

4. Repurpose vintage curtains and table linens. Gibson cut down her mom’s old curtains to fit her kitchen windows and made the rest of the damask into pillows for a guest room. She also repurposed a lacy white tablecloth of her grandmother’s into a window treatment, attaching it with three tacks.

5. Resize tables by cutting off their legs. Cut down small tables to be the perfect height for a sofa or bedside, or take a medium-size dining table and chop it down to the height of a coffee table.

JURA KONCIUS, Washington Post