Tips For Upcycling A Piece Of Furniture

As awareness of the environmental challenges we are facing grows, more effort is being made to reuse and recycle products that we already have. This is a more sustainable way of managing the earth’s resources, reduces the amount of waste products sent to landfill, and is also cost effective.

Thousands of tonnes of furniture are thrown away each year, often because of minor surface damage or simply because the owners are bored of them. Brand new replacement items are then ordered, often mass produced and of variable standards of quality. This furniture may only last for a few years before becoming damaged or out of fashion.

However there is now fortunately a countertrend for sourcing second hand and vintage items or furniture, which can often be acquired relatively cheaply, and upcycled to create a unique piece that fits in with the interior style of your home. Older furniture that has survived the test of time is often better made and more aesthetically pleasing than newer furniture.

Antique and second hand shops are good places to source furniture, but this can be the pricier option. There are plenty of good bargains to be found at car boot sales, or on websites such as Ebay and Gumtree. With a little TLC, it’s possible to create a beautiful individual piece that will really put your own stamp on a room. Here are a few tips. 

Prepare the item first

Clean the item thoroughly first off all. If it has been in storage, give it a dust down to shake off the cobwebs and then wash it with a cloth or sponge and sugar soap. As you do so, keep an eye out for any large chips or scratches that will need filling in. 

More minor imperfections can be left to help give a lived in air to the finished item, unless you want a really smooth and perfect finish. Some people even go the other way and deliberately chip or scratch the surface to create a rustic look, but think carefully before you set to with your tools!

Sand down the item to take off the surface sheen, starting with a coarse grained sandpaper and then finishing off with a finer grain. This is known as ‘keying’ and it helps the new coating to stick to the surface better. 

Decide what finish you want

The final finish may depend on the style of the furniture. For example, a mid century modern table will not suit distressed pastel paint, but a country cottage kitchen table would look charming. 

If you are painting the furniture, apply a primer coat first. You could either simply coat the whole piece, or get creative with patterns and details such as edging or panel effects.

Another option for giving distinctive character to a piece of furniture is to apply a coat of Venetian plastering. This can create interesting contrasts of colours and textures, or be polished to create a high gloss finish. 

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