Dust off your tool kit, crack open the craft cupboard and put on your painting gear – up-cycling and DIY furniture restoration has never been more popular.
From the rise in vintage and shabby chic interior design, to the popularity of home improvement TV programmes, more and more people are finding out just how easy and satisfying it is to get creative with their old furniture.
In this guide, we take a look at some popular up-cycling and restoration techniques, designed to inspire you, get your creative juices and help you bring new life to old or unwanted furniture.
In today’s throwaway society, there’s something particularly satisfying about bringing new life to old or tired pieces of furniture that you might usually have thrown away or sent to charity – and you’ll save loads of money in the process!
It’s also a fun and extremely rewarding hobby, and a great way of adding individual flair to your home. Every piece of furniture you up-cycle or restore will be completely unique, and you’ll have the satisfaction and sense of pride that comes from knowing you did the project yourself.
DISTRESSING FURNITURE WITHOUT THE STRESS – CHALK PAINTING
One of the quickest and easiest ways to up-cycle your furniture is by using chalk paint – it’s perfect for creating a vintage-inspired look.
The process is really simple – simply sand down your furniture to get rid of any flaky paint, and apply the chalk paint of your choice to create an individual, shabby chic design. Experiment with different brush strokes to create different effects, and once dry, protect your furniture with a layer of soft, clear wax.
If you like, you can use two different complimentary colours – an undercoat, and a top layer, to help create an authentic-looking distressed finish. Apply the undercoat to the areas you want to look distressed (corners and edges) then paint the whole piece with your top layer.
Wax the furniture, then gently sand over the areas you’ve undercoated until the bottom layer starts to show through. Add a final layer of wax, and you’re finished.
If you’re not a big fan of the shabby chic look, then why not bring your old furniture back to its original best by restoring it?
Restoration your old furniture might seem like a specialist job, but it’s easier than it sounds. If you’re a DIY novice, you might want to start with something fairly simple,
like an old wooden table – where you won’t have to worry about any upholstery or fabric.
In most cases, all you’ll need to do is sand down the surfaces, use wood glue to fix broken parts and replace missing screws, before finishing it with the stain, paint, wax or polish of your choice. It’s an easy job that can be done in a weekend.
As you progress and grow more confident in your skills, you can look at upholstery, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
Decoupage is the art of pasting cut outs of a material (usually paper, but sometimes fabric) onto an object, before covering it with several layers of clear lacquer or varnish. It’s been around for centuries, and first found favour in the UK during Victorian times – and now it’s definitely back in fashion.
One of the best things about decoupage is its flexibility – you can use decoupage on pretty much anything, from small jewellery boxes, right up to full chairs and tables. It works on a full range of materials, including wood, metal and glass, and you can make any design you like.
You can now purchase specialist decoupage paper that comes pre-varnished, but any paper will work. Simply cut it to shape, glue it to your furniture, then seal the decoupage with a few coats of clear varnish, lacquer, or specially formulated decoupage finish (available from any craft shop).
INSPIRATION FROM ANYWHERE
Once you start up-cycling and restoring, it can become really addictive, and the possibilities are pretty much endless. You can find inspiration in all sorts of places, so get creative.
Left over materials and fabrics from other decorating and DIY jobs can all be used as part of your up-cycling. Curtain material, pallets, floorboards and even offcuts from your next vinyl flooring installaton can all be repurposed.
For instance, we reckon the Paul Smith inspired Mardi Gras 75 Stripes designer vinyl flooring would make a great addition for an up-cycled companion kitchen table.
Visit our inspiration and advice section for plenty of ideas on how to give your home a new lease of life!