The Beginners Guide to Upcycling Furniture

The Beginners Guide to Upcycling Furniture

You have a worn armchair in the corner of your garage, which has been passed down from generation to generation. The fabric is hanging off at the sides and there is a clear groove where people have sat, whiling away the hours over the years. The pattern has faded and sadly, it smells pretty musty.

Your first thought is to throw it away with the rest of the rubbish, because this particular chair is no good to anybody, right? Wrong! It is incredibly easy to upcycle such a well loved piece of furniture, so you can keep the sentimental old chair, but transform it into something to take pride of place in your living room, not have hidden away in the garage.

Upcycling quite simply means to ‘reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.’

But, what do you do if you don’t have anything like the worn armchair that you need or even want to upcycle? You could buy it! Seems silly to buy something old, when you could just buy it new, doesn’t it. But, firstly it is far cheaper, secondly you can turn it into whatever you wish – the only limitation is your imagination – and thirdly, you have the joy of working on it and can take pride in showing it off to friends and family.

There are plenty of charity shops and websites where you can find second hand furniture that is just crying out to be upcycled and given a new lease of life – you know what they say, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Here you may also be able to find the materials you need to transform your old furniture.


Tip: you may want to start with something small and simple, to practice on and learn as you go along.

Anything can be upcycled, from painting and recovering an old stool to turning a dresser drawer into a bedside table. Wooden items tend to be the best to work with because the material is so versatile and you can completely change the look of it with some basic tools and a lick of paint.

Right, so you have the item you would like to upcycle – what next?

Before you need to do anything else, you need to look for inspiration with a search around Pinterest, for example. This doesn’t mean you have to copy these, you probably want to create something quirky and unique, but it will give you some ideas you may never have considered.

You also need to remember to prepare your furniture for upcycling. Take off handles and knobs before painting because they will only get in the way and are easy to put back on later. And, with wooden furniture, it is important to always sand it first and remove any dust – before painting.

You may want to think about taking a course in upcycling, this can help you to get started or enable you to improve on the skills you have already taught yourself.

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