Why furniture upcycling is more than just a trend
With environmental crises hitting the news lately, we’ve seen sustainability and ethical practices shift from a niche to a mainstream concern. We’ve arrived at a tipping point where an increasing number of people have become aware that something needs to change in the way we produce and consume goods. We are taking the time to educate ourselves on how to reduce our carbon footprint and lead a more sustainable lifestyle. We are no longer interested in throwaway consumer goods, but instead, our purchases become more sensible, favouring quality over quantity.
While we are still trying to figure out how to fight the large scale battle for the planet, our homes are facing a renaissance and starting to lead the revolution by example. While selecting products for our homes, we tend to rely on renewable resources, recycling and upcycling.
We favour repairing over replacing, and unique over mass-produced. And while we slowly, but firmly realise the benefits of our newly discovered mindset, our homes become filled with one-offs and remarkable vintage gems.
We seek emotional escapism by tapping into nostalgia. Sentimentality for the bygone days drives us on a hunt for seasoned furniture, while our growing need to slow down pushes us to get our hands on DIY furniture upcycling.
And we love every second of it!
Image source: House Beautiful
Distressed Shabby Chic Blanket Box
Beautiful Antique Farm House Elm Wood Dining Table Kitchen Distressed Rustic
The art of Upcycling is on the rise
Upcycling discarded furniture and giving it a new life is having a moment as we speak! Blame it on the poor quality of new, consumer goods that make us seek more viable alternatives or all the TV shows broadcasting tips on how to turn what appears to be “trash” into treasure, but getting your hands on the quality vintage pieces with patina is now much more fashionable than purchasing a brand new flat-pack furniture set.
However, furniture upcycling is hardly a new thing. Historically, household objects were rarely thrown away, but rather reused or repurposed. Old fabrics were turned into rag rugs and cloths, while broken sewing machines came back as sideboards.
But the consumer boom of the 20th-century left us trading tradition for novelty, and we are now finally going back to catch up from where we left off.
Image source: Planet Deco
Antique Singer Sewing Machine Coffee / Side / Hall Cast Table Industrial Vintage
Antique Rustic Painted Pine Cupboard Distressed Paint
If it can be upcycled, it’s not trash
You need to be openminded. Unless a modest lick of paint is all you are willing to invest in the process, recognising a perfect upcycling candidate will require a bit of imagination.
With some love, a discarded sideboard can bloom into a beautiful vanity.
Image source: Style by Emily Henderson
Vintage Antique Demi Lune Table Sideboard Upcycled Console Rustic Painted
Or just picture these weathered bamboo chairs adding a layer of interest to a rustic boho room.
Pair Of Vintage French Weathered Bamboo Chairs
Upcycling furniture pays off big time
Furniture upcycling is not just environmentally-friendly; it’s also financially sensible. By converting a rejected (and often neglected) object into something useful, you will be giving it an instant value boost.
Some pieces, like this antique distressed dresser, won’t require much to shine. With a jam like this, you are just a paint job away from having an extraordinary piece of history on your hands. Not only beautiful, but old furniture is usually very well made and with some care, it will serve you for decades.
Image source: SF Girl by Bay
Antique French Painted Dresser Bookcase Original Distressed Scraped Finish C19th
Vintage Pine Dresser, 1930s
Faded glamour of vintage pieces
Even though upcycling is often associated with budget and folksy solutions, this is by no means a rule. In traditional British homes, slightly faded old-world glamour is synonymous with luxury, lovingly refurbished vintage furniture is a symbol of class.
And if you take a peek at the top end of the market, you will have a hard time locating a space lacking luxuriously upcycled furniture pieces.
Image source: House and Garden
Antique Victorian Rosewood Chair Bases
English 19th Century Wing Chair For Reupholstery
Personalised one-offs with a story
Use upcycled antique furniture to build a unique interior style. Once you determine what direction you’ll be heading within the room, follow your heart and have fun!
Make use of Pinterest to spark your creativity and fuel you with the wildest ideas and inspiration. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of merely following in someone else’s footsteps and end up mimicking their taste. You have everything at your disposal to develop a personalised aesthetic, so why not go for it?
Keep in mind that not all upcycling styles will complement each furniture piece. Be sympathetic to the original aesthetic and never combine high gloss paints with antique pieces, or distress pastels to give them a shabby chic look.
Image source: Style me pretty
Small 19th C Elm Milking Stool With Distressed Paint Finish
Gorgeous Eye Catching Carved Solid Wood Victorian Antique Tub Chair
Remember, there are no limits to what you can create. If you can envision it – go for it! You don’t need to be a skilled DIYer to get started with upcycling. Take on a few simple projects (like painting) until you build confidence and become savvy enough to experiment with more advanced techniques.
Yes, you are probably going to make mistakes along the way (at least at first), but with a healthy mindset, you are going to love these revamped pieces for their “mistakes”, not in spite of them. After all, upcycling should be fun.
Image source: Rue Mag
Grey Distressed Sloped Desk
Set Of 4 ‘Shabby Chic’ Extra Distressed Finish Church Chapel Chairs
If you spot a piece you’d like to upcycle, be quick on the wallet. With such a bargain price, chances are it won’t be available for long. Pieces with character are rare and if they slip away, don’t expect them to come around. Once they’re gone, they are gone for good.
1960’S French Vintage Distressed Garden Table And Chairs
Vintage Wooden Bathroom/Medicine Cabinet With Foxed Mirror And Distressed Paint Finish
Feature image: Bethany Nauert