Reinventing your furniture will not only give the item a new lease of life, but it will also be a fun hobby, adding a bit of your individual personality to your home. It can be both a truly satisfying experience as well as often being a really cost-effective way of decorating.
What’s more, all you really need to get started is the enthusiasm to explore your creative side, and the rest can be purchased with a relatively small budget. So, here’s some words of encouragement and advice from professional DIY bloggers to inspire you to get going.
Whether this is your initial attempt, or you’re simply looking for further ideas, don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. You’ll most likely surprise yourself, and create something that you’re very proud of.
“Up-cycling furniture can be as simple as giving it a fresh coat of paint but sometimes even that can be daunting for first time up-cyclers. Just remember that you can't make it look any worse! If a piece of furniture is ready for an up-cycle then you can't go wrong - be adventurous, experiment, have fun!” – Lia Griffith
“Keep it simple to start, such as a small coffee table or a small chest of drawers, as you really don't want to feel overwhelmed with your first project.” – Bowie Belle
Everything has potential
Even if you think your old piece of furniture is looking tatty, or you see that a friend or neighbour is getting rid of some ‘junk’, there are probably hundreds of possibilities to give it a new lease of life. Just use your imagination, and put a little faith into the piece, and before you know it you’ll have a useful item all over again.
“Don't overlook old pieces that other people may have thrown out as junk - my Industrial Chandelier began as an old piece of wood that someone had discarded at the side of a road - now, it's one of my most talked about pieces.” – Lia Griffith
“Before you take a load of 'tat' to the tip ask yourself "could I re use this for something else?" The answer could well be yes.” – Busy Bee Mummy Bex
Search in unexpected places
While people often seek furniture and accessories such as vintage pendant lighting from charity shops, car boot sales and classified adverts in the local paper, it’s also worth checking other outlets. These can include recycling centres, friends’ garages and even the streets on ‘rubbish’ day, to name just a few other suggestions.
“Look for items from unusual sources such as office clearances or school building upgrades. I found a design plan chest, old lab stools and 2 desks when a design college moved location and were upgrading all of the furniture. I’ve currently got my eye on an old school bench being sold for £20 from a village hall. It would be perfect as a bench in our entrance hall.” – Lottie’s Interiors
Think outside of the box
While a lick of paint is a great way to update furniture, there are many other ways to modify your items, which will look just as effective if not more so.
“Think beyond painting as the only way to upcycle. I love papering the inside of wardrobes or cupboards for example. You could also think about mixing old with new…an antique cupboard with contemporary paper for example. Be adventurous! On the other hand often simple changes such as replacing drawer handles can be all that is needed to alter the look of a piece of furniture.” – Lottie’s Interiors
Don’t overcomplicate things
There are many great products available on the market that will help you to upcycle with ease, and these provide handy alternatives for cutting corners if you are short for time.
“Chalk paint works really well for giving new life to a piece of furniture. Generally little prep is required if using chalk paint as long as the pre painted surface is smooth. If you are worried about stubborn varnish or stains the Zinsser B.I.N is an excellent sealant/primer available from most high street DIY stores. Apply a coat of normal primer as well if preferred.” – Lottie’s Interiors
“Decide on what paints you would like to go with. Chalk paint (which requires no prep) for a matt chalky finish or acrylic paints (requires a proper good sanding and sugar wash) for a smooth sleek finish.” – Bowie Belle
Write a list of what you need
Before you start work, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment, so that you don’t have to take a break to pop out and get extra bits and bobs. Giving yourself enough room is also essential, as you’ll want to create as little mess as possible, and be able to see your project through to the end.
“Good quality paint brushes pay dividends and are available from any local hardware store. They really don't have to be too posh but do take care of them otherwise they can become quite costly to keep replacing.
“Also, pick up lots of colour charts & sample pots to discover what colours you’re attracted to and work for you.” – Bowie Belle
“Give yourself plenty of D.I.Y space (outside with lots of ventilation if possible).” – Rebecca Waight
Get others involved
While many people say that they just don’t have the time to upcycle furniture, there are numerous ways to get around this. You can save so much money by reinventing your furnishings, so it really is worth dedicating a little bit of time here and there to a project. Ask others to give you a hand, and that way you’ll be able to bounce ideas off of each other too.
“If you have crazy children around pop to your local charity shop & get them a small table or chair to 'up-cycle' themselves.” – Busy Bee Mummy Bex
Make it unique
There is so much inspiration available on the internet, but you’ll want to make sure that each item you create is original. Whether you develop a signature style over time, or simply add a stencil of your initials to each piece, it will be nice to know that your furniture will not be found anywhere else.
“Most importantly, be yourself, it's your personality that makes your furniture special.” – Bowie Belle
Don’t give up
And last but not least, keep persevering! While at first you may not succeed, you’re sure to get better with time, and will learn a lot along the way.
“Practice, practice, practice to become comfortable with your own painting technique.” – Bowie Belle
Cassie Fairy is a dab hand at DIY décor, and one of our favourite upcycles is this mini desk makeover. With a lick of paint, stylish UK door knob and a fabric patchwork design, this unloved item of furniture has been given a delightful transformation.
Here she gives some tips for renovating a piece of furniture:
- “Clean thoroughly before you begin work on your furniture – inside and out!”
- “Sand down wooden furniture to create a surface that paint will adhere to.”
- “Use a vacuum with brush attachment to suck up the dust and wipe over with a damp cloth to get the last of it.”
- “Make any repairs before you start to paint, and make sure the unit is fully dry before painting.” – Cassie Fairy
This may be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but reupholstering furniture offers so much scope. Sarah Dorsey demonstrates this with her refurbished mid-century modern chairs, which look absolutely stunning with the addition of vibrant patterned fabric and a natural wood finish.
“We upholstered the cushion with Caitlin Wilson Textiles, Mint Tall Chevron. I LOVE the bright subtle chevron pattern! Isn't her fabric the best!?” – Sarah M Dorsey Designs
Chalk paint chest
As mentioned above, chalk paint gives a fantastic finish, and is very popular with many expert upcyclers. Antonia from Tidy Away Today agrees, as she brought a battered trunk back to life, which has since become a much loved toy chest for her children.
“If you are familiar with chalk paint and the famous Annie Sloan one, maybe you haven’t tried the other, Autentico? I saw this shade, Nearly Black, used on some lovely furniture transformations at The Barrister’s Horse and knew I had to order some, it is such a gorgeous navy/black kind of shade.” – Tidy Away Today
Image Credit: Chris Isherwood (Flickr.com) Bowie Belle, Lottie’s Interiors, Lia Griffith, Cassie Fairy, Sarah M Dorsey Designs, Tidy Away Today