PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Do you love watching HGTV? Do you enjoy browsing through catalogs from West Elm or Pottery Barn?

It is fun to dream about redecorating your home, but furniture shopping can be expensive. You can easily drop thousands redoing a room, but you don’t have to break the bank. You just need to be open-minded and willing to put in a little work like James Judge!

The realtor, designer and home flipper finds cheap pieces with potential at Goodwill and other Valley thrift stores and then works his magic!

Over the last few years, he’s revamped hundreds of dated and worn furniture items into chic couches, chairs and coffee tables.

How does he do it? We went on a shopping adventure with Judge to find out, starting at the Goodwill near 16th Street and Indian School Road.

“This happens to be my favorite store, because I feel like it brings in a big collection of items from all over the Valley in one central location,” Judge said.

Watching Judge shop for furniture is like watching a kid go to Disneyland!

“It’s all about treasure hunting for me, and really trying to find these special pieces that someone else has discarded that I can find and reclaim and bring life back into,” he said.

Right away, Judge spots a treasure!

“I really like this nightstand for $17.99. You can’t beat that price point,” Judge said.

Judge likes the lines on the pieces and the wood drawers.

“My goal with this piece is to transform it. I would paint the lament part just because it’s not something that can be sanded. I would stain the drawers that way you have a two-tone piece and add some hardware,” Judge said.

Judge does several laps when he shops because he can miss things the first time around. As we make laps, he finds another treasure.

“This coffee table is a great find for $12.99. It has a medal base and glass top. You know it’s dirty and has some scratches on it, but being that this is medal it could actually be used outdoors,” Judge said.

Judge says it won’t take much to bring it back to life!

“The glass is in great condition so some Windex, a can of spray paint, and suddenly for $12.99 plus a can of spray paint, you have a perfect coffee table, perfect for outdoors or indoors,” Judge said.

Judge quickly found two pieces with a lot of potential and a cheap price tag, but he’s still looking for a couch.

We now head to the Goodwill near 32nd Street and Thomas Road to find a sofa and right away, he spots something that could work even though it’s pretty dirty.

“Well the dog hair is really appealing, but beyond that, it has interesting lines and I actually believe these two pieces go together, this is actually a chase that connects into that sofa,” Judge said while examining the two pieces.

He buys both items. Each have a price tag of just $7.99. That’s less than $16 for the couch!

“This is a DIY sofa and by the time it’s done, it will be looking like something from West Elm,” Judge said.

The shopping is complete! James bought three pieces for less than $50. How did he restoration the furniture? Here’s what he did with each piece:


The coffee table had a dated color so Judge paints it a nice shade of black to make it look a lot richer. The whole project should take 45 minutes or less!

  • Clean the table first so the paint goes on evenly
  • Spray paint the table with nice, even strokes 
    • Tip: Always keep moving because if you stop in one spot, it’s going to bubble!
  • Let the paint dry and do a second coat

Products: Rust-Oleum


Judge likes the modern line on the couch and won’t change it much aside from doing some deep cleaning to get it looking much fresher!

  • Wash the back cushions (if they unzip)
  • Vacuum the entire couch to pull up any additional hair
  • Use a hair roller to pull up animal hair from the fabric
  • Use a cleaning product like Whip-It to get out stains
    • Tip: Add the product to a white wash cloth and lightly go over the fabric. Make sure you’re moving in just one direction. If you scrub too hard, it can actually pull the color out of the fabric!

Products: Hair Roller Remover & Whip-It Stain Remover 


Judge will give his favorite piece a two-tone look complete with black hardware! 

  • Wipe down the nightstand 
  • Paint the top and sides with matte black paint (three coats)
  • Restore the drawers by using Gel Stain
    • Tip: Use a Q-Tip to get into tight spaces
  • Enhance the product using Restor-A-Finish which helps to restore the wood (pour on rag and rub over entire piece)
  • Seal the new color with Feed-N-Wax (a wood polisher and conditioner)
  • Add modern black handles

Products: Gel StainRestor-A-FinishFeed-N-WaxLeather Cabinet Pulls, Black Cabinet Handles


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