Furniture Guides: How to Upcycle Furniture
For some furniture fans, building a characterful home means hunting down design icons by renowned furniture makers. For others, it’s all about investing in time-honoured antiques. And for more and more people, it’s about finding – or creating – one-of-a-kind upcycled furniture.
At Vinterior, we’re celebrating all that upcycling is this Black Friday weekend and shunning the sameness for something truly unique. To upcycle a piece takes time, creativity, and ingenuity. Far from giving an old chest of drawers a fresh coat of paint, upcyclers go above and beyond by completely restoring a piece or giving it a whole new look. That’s why we chatted with some of our sellers who craft exceptionally upcycled pieces and learnt some top tips on how to upcycle.
If you’re in need of some upcycling ideas and you’re after some Vinspiration, explore our guide on what upcycling is and how to do it below.
What is upcycling?
Technically put, upcycling is the process of transforming unwanted or waste products into something useful and of higher quality. But that definition is a little dry for us. To us, upcycling means giving pre-owned furniture a new lease of life in the most characterful way. Not only is upcycled furniture a demonstration of artistic creativity, but it’s also a sustainable way to give your furniture more environmental value.
Why is upcycling important?
We live in a throwaway culture – one that’s supported by Black Friday discounts – but there are so many characterful pieces of furniture in the world that we don’t need to throw away perfectly good items. Upcycling gives us the opportunity to reimagine what we already own, or a piece of pre-owned furniture, and give it a new lease of life. On restoring furniture, Stacey Wall of House of Twenty says, “It is great to preserve it and or give the pieces a new lease of life as it would be such a shame for these pieces to be discarded.”
How to choose a piece of furniture to upcycle
For your first-time upcycle, it’s a good idea to choose a simple piece of furniture for your project. A pine bench or rustic side table are good choices as they don’t have drawers, doors, and interior spaces to work with. As your upcycling confidence grows, you might work up to a sideboard upcycle on a mid-century piece or even go really bold and work on an armoire.
You’ll find that the piece you choose has a story to tell as you work on it too. Dom Chadwick of No Repro says it’s, “The rediscovery of forgotten, obscured beauty from a worn, tired object” that he loves most. Finally, the main thing to remember when choosing a piece to upcycle is to pick something you love, as you’ll hopefully be living with it for years to come.
How to upcycle furniture at home
Essentially, upcycling furniture is all about having fun and getting creative. But if you want to get your finished piece just right, there are some steps to follow to ensure upcycling success.
Prep your piece of furniture
Pre-owned furniture sometimes needs a little TLC before it’s upcycled. Start by wiping down the piece with a warm damp cloth. Then sand away the top layer of varnish or paint, if there is one, with sandpaper to create a smooth surface. This will also help buff out any minor imperfections or scratches. If you’ll be painting your piece, give it a coat of primer before you start to get a perfect finish.
Decide on your design before you start
Giving yourself a guide and deciding on the design before you start will make the process easier and more enjoyable. If you’re planning an elaborate design – one inspired by your favourite piece of art perhaps – it’s a good idea to sketch out your idea onto your piece of furniture in pencil first. That way you can reduce the chance of error when you’re painting or varnishing your upcycled furniture later.
Choose the right tools and materials
Get your tools, pens, and paints organised before you start your project. The last thing you want is to be midway through upcycling a pine chest of drawers to have to run to a hardware shop because you’re missing something essential. Plan a list of tools and materials ahead of time and do a quick check before you start upcycling.
Have fun and be creative
Upcycling is your chance to let your inner artist free. In fact, one of the things our sellers love most about upcycling furniture is that it allows them to be creative. Sallie Belton of Belton & Butler says, “No matter how many pieces we restyle, we always get a wave of excitement when we look at before and after photos…We enjoy the creative journey – a lot goes into deciding the design for a piece.”
So get out there, get creative, and enjoy bringing a piece of furniture you love back to life.
Why we’re supporting upcycling
We believe that all furniture has value and heavy discounting devalues the quality and character of every piece. That’s why we’ve shunned the traditional Black Friday messaging to highlight upcycling. Giving old furniture a new lease of life by upcycling has never been more important for the planet. Building a characterful and sustainable home is all about finding one-of-a-kind pieces you love. That’s why we’re celebrating Upcycled Weekend.
So, join us in shunning the status quo and find exceptionally upcycled furniture at Vinterior.
Do you have an upcycling project in mind and need some advice? Or are you in need of some upcycling furniture ideas? Reach out in the comments below and our experts will be on hand with some upcycling advice.