The good thing about up-cycling is that there really are no limits to what you can create. It’s a sustainable, cost-effective option, and anyone can join the up-cycling revolution and undertake a range of up-cycled furniture projects – no previous skills required.
Preparation is key to up-cycling. Plan ahead and ensure you have the tools and equipment needed to do the job. Give all furniture a wipe down before you start, otherwise you could get an old cobweb stuck to your paintbrush! And factor in time at the end in case you need to make any corrections to your work. Sometimes the excitement of getting the job done can mean we rush things.
Be imaginative when you see old pieces. Old ladders make great places to display plants, and old washing machine drums make great outdoor plant pots. Creative ideas can give a new purpose to something that would have otherwise been discarded.
If you see a piece of vintage furniture for sale on the high street that you like, the chances are that you can find something very similar at Tayside Re-Users, at a car boot sale, or on sites such as Gumtree. You may even find something similar in your granny’s attic! With a bit of paint and some imagination, you can create something beautiful at a fraction of the price.
Make sure you match the era of the piece of furniture with the style of up-cycling. An old 1950s G-plan sideboard will never look good painted in pastels and then distressed to give a shabby chic coastal effect. Be sympathetic to the original style – for example, a piece like that would look great painted in a bold colour, or decoupaged using geometrical wallpaper.
Spend a few extra pennies on good paint brushes. Cheap ones leave bristles in your work and don’t give good coverage. All good paint brands now have their own paint brushes which work wonderfully well together. Wrap brushes and rollers in tinfoil or clingfilm in between coats to keep the brush moist and then clean them as soon as you’ve finished painting or waxing.
Collect old odd socks (clean ones, of course!) as they are great to use to apply wax to furniture, providing they are not too fluffy, as any loose fibers will stick to the wax.
Have fun and be bold. You are not bound by the constraints of what is available on the high street. There are so many colours to choose from and a wealth of ideas on Pinterest to inspire you. There should be no end to everyone’s creativity!
Remove old drawer knobs first so you don’t paint around them only to find when you remove the old ones, the new ones are smaller and you have a space with no paint.
New products are launched all of the time which seem to make the impossible, possible. For example, protective outdoor paints and sprays mean that you can be creative with outdoor spaces and create the look of an extra room in the garden quite easily. Think outside the box, gardens don’t have to be full of teak furniture! There are some amazing new easy crackle glaze products out there which mean you can age a piece easily. This is great news if you find second hand mirrors or frames as these can be made to look super expensive.
Once you have finished your pieces, make sure you protect all your hard work with wax or varnish to give it longevity. After putting so much effort into making something re-loved, give it the respect it deserves by finishing it properly.
Don’t be afraid to try and get stuck in!