If you see something in a shop or house magazine that you love and just have to get your hands on, look closely. The chances are that you can find something very similar in a charity shop, car boot sale, or on Gumtree. You may even find similar in your Granny’s attic! With a bit of paint and some imagination, you can create something very similar. It’s all about looking at pieces with fresh eyes. I am always checking out other people’s skips too, one man’s trash is another man's treasure.
Make sure you match the era of the piece of furniture with the style of upcycling. An old 1950s G-plan sideboard will never look cool painted in pastels and then distressed to give a shabby chic coastal effect. Try and be sympathetic to the original style. A piece like that would look great painted in a bold colour or decoupaged using geometrical wallpaper
Be imaginative when you see old pieces. Old ladders painted make great places to display plants, old washing machine drums make great out door plant pots. Creative ideas can give a new purpose to something that would otherwise have been discarded.
Collect old odd socks (clean ones!!) as they are great to use to apply the wax to the furniture, providing they are not too fluffy.
If your piece of furniture has watermarks or stains, go over it with a primer first or use one of the paints on the market now containing a primer in it too. It is pointless just going at it gung ho with layers of paint, it will bleed through again and your work will be ruined. Once you have finished your pieces, make sure you protect all your hard work with a wax or varnish to give it longevity. If you have gone to the bother of making something fabulous give it the respect it deserves by finishing it properly. Don’t rush it to just get it done.
When upcycling preparation is key, the more time you spend preparing, the less time you will have to spend correcting mistakes. Go around the mirror edges with masking tape to stop the paint getting on the mirror, also mask off drawer edges etc. 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. Give all furniture a wipe before you start, an old cobweb stuck on your paint brush is just annoying. Sometimes the excitement of getting the job done can mean we rush things.
New products on the market all the time seem to make the impossible, possible. 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.
Have fun and be bold, create what YOU love. You are not bound by the constraints of what is available on the High Street. You can create something unique for your home that is your style. 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.
Spend a few extra pennies on good paint brushes. Cheap ones leave bristles in your work and just don’t give good coverage. All the paint brands now have their own paint brushes in their ranges which work wonderfully well. 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.
Don’t be afraid to try and get started, I always say that there are no mistakes in Upcycling only lessons learnt. If you need help, check out the Gumtree Upcycling Hub where there are lots of ideas and tips or ask a question on Twitter with the hashtag #upcyclerevolution. The upcycling community are always helpful and supportive. After all if we all work together and encourage each other think how many pieces of furniture we can save from Landfill.