Looking for a home interiors project to keep you busy during lockdown? Upcycling is a great way to give your house a low cost makeover. There are so many things you can upcycle – from furniture to wooden crates – and anyone can have a go.
Now is the perfect time to join the upcycling revolution and get stuck into some home decor projects to brighten up your rooms. Old well-used pieces of furniture can be upcycled and given a new lease of life at very little cost and the good news is no previous experience is necessary.
Upcycling is a fun and creative way of transforming a tired old piece of furniture into something beautiful and unique. It’s cost-effective and sustainable and there’s no end to what can be upcycled around the home – vintage pieces of furniture, storage boxes, mirrors, wardrobes, wicker baskets, old chairs, tables…the list goes on and on!
Rooms can be transformed by simply decorating drawers on a tired old bureau or chest of drawers with wallpaper sheets, or by painting an old wooden crate to make a new table or displaying plants on a painted wooden ladder.
Before you embark on a new project check you have the right tools and materials for the job (for example, if you’re painting a wooden chest of drawers you will need a screwdriver to remove any handles and sandpaper and paint to complete the makeover). Consider the finished look and how it will blend in with your existing furniture.
Look at online platforms like Instagram or Pinterest for some ideas and inspiration and choose a smaller project to get going before moving on to bigger pieces.
Interior designer and keen upcycler Chloe Jones, who runs Ivy Thomas Interiors, says upcycling is easier than you might think and with a bit of imagination you can update almost anything in your home. She advises buying good quality chalk paints for upcycling to achieve the best finished result and to do plenty of prepping.
“Place a dust sheet on the floor to begin with and make sure you are wearing some old clothes. Sand the item down gently with a fine sandpaper. This will make sure any lumps or bumps are smoothed out and will help the paint grip onto the surface. After sanding, use a sugar soap to clean the piece down. This will take off any dust and remove grease or dirt that has built up. It’s a quick process, first spray on the sugar soap and use a sponge to rub over the entire piece then wash it off with warm water. Let it dry before you start painting. If your piece of furniture has any defects or chunks missing you can use a filler to fill the holes before you get going.”
Chloe’s guide to upcycling a wooden framed mirror in 10 easy steps:
- Sand the frame down with a fine sandpaper.
- Wash the frame with sugar soap and then water to get off any dirt/grease/fine dust particles.
- Put masking tape on any areas you don’t want to be painted (in this instance the mirrored glass!). Even if you have a super steady hand and are very careful there will always be a small bit that drips!
- Choose your paint colour and start painting! Use as little paint as possible, try to stretch the paint over the surface as much as you can. You don’t need to paint in one direction, you can apply it any way you like. It’s better to do more coats of fine layers than one really heavy thick coat of paint.
- Let the paint dry as per the paint instructions.
- Apply a second coat.
- Let that dry.
- Then you will need to wax the area you painted. This is an absolutely vital step that many people miss out because they think the paint looks great. The wax will help fix the paint and keep it on the item so it’s important not to leave this stage out. I apply my selected colour of wax (you can get clear, white and brown waxes) with an old cotton rag, use as little as possible and try not to overload the piece – a little goes a long way.
- Leave the wax overnight then buff it off the next day with a dry clean rag/cloth.
- Your piece is finished!
For more upcycling inspiration take a look at Chloe’s Instagram @atouchofjones.
Thank you to Chloe Jones from Ivy Thomas Interiors for the advice and photos.