Re-purposing and up-cycling old furniture can be a cheap and easy way to give your home furnishings a new look, while reusing items you no longer need. From a new layer of paint to a completely new function, making the old and unwanted into new and desirable is a great way to get creative and save money.
For those starting out in upcycling circles, giving a furniture piece a new paint job is a good place to start.
Redecorating: Giving furniture a new lease of life
Before cheap particle board was available, almost everything was coated in paint, varnish or stain. Removing layers of paint can often reveal the warmth of beautiful wood grain hidden beneath. This can then be repainted, stained, waxed or even left raw for a rustic appearance.
Repainting furniture can change the entire look of the piece, and with an infinite number of shades available, there are so many options. Check out this simple re-painting of a chest of draws from Kate at TheEveryGirl.com for a little inspiration and a step-by-step guide.
A similar project from Home Heaven uses stencils to create a unique piece with a bit of flare. Additionally, if you’re looking for a weathered look, this can be achieved by using specialised painting techniques; this article provides a good explanation of how to do it. For general painting preparation and tips, this article from Haymes Paint is a good place to start.
Upcycling: Turning waste into wonderful
If a particular piece of furniture is past its useful life, a bit of imagination, elbow grease and a small investment could turn it into something better. Pinterest can be a great source for ideas, often with pictures of ‘before’ and ‘after’ so you can see what can be achieved.
Cintia from mypoppet.com.au found some unwanted chairs on the curb, then redecorated them using cross stitch to brighten them up. For those with a deft finger and a thimble, completely rejuvenating woven cane furniture with bright colourful thread could be a real winner.
Re-purposing: Giving items a new function
Taking waste material designed for one purpose and changing it so it’s more useful to you offers so many possibilities. The key to repurposing is often imagination, as sometimes it can be difficult to think of an innovative new way to use items you no longer want.
Browsing sites like Etsy.com can be a great way to get inspired and see what others have achieved by seeing items a little differently. A fantastic example of creatively viewing an object is this dolls house, complete with blackboard painted exterior made from an old style suitcase – another of the innovative projects from mypoppet.com.au.
Old wooden ladders are a good option for upcycling beginners, from shelves to window furnishings, laundry hangers to shoe racks; there are so many ways to reuse them in a creative way. Here’s a step-by-step guide for transforming an old wooden ladder into a tower airer.
For those looking for something a little more advanced; wooden pallets are very popular for making furniture. Check out this post from Pip Lincolne at justbaustralia.com.au for some inspiration on just how versatile pallets can be.
Seeing the potential in older items is part of the fun, and involving family and friends can help to bond people together over a common goal. Often if you try something and it doesn’t work out, there isn’t a lot lost – you may even be able to undo and try again. There are many advantages to redecorating, upcycling and repurposing, not least is creating beautiful furniture at very little cost, saving money and helping to reduce waste.