How to Upcycle Furniture: A Guide for Beginners
Originally posted on Porch.com
In today’s throwaway world, it’s more important than ever to reuse the things we already have in circulation. The process of upcycling involves taking something old or already used, and repurposing and revamping it into something even better. Whether you’re new to the concept of upcycling furniture or you’re just curious, and want a DIY project, there are lots of ways you can take existing items and give them new life. Read on to discover more about products you can upcycle yourself to enjoy unique products for the home while contributing to a greener world.
The Benefits of Upcycling
Upcycling furniture is a great way to reuse items and give them a fun personal touch. There are many amazing benefits to upcycling, including:
- Saving Money: When you upcycle furniture, you’ll save your hard-earned money since most items can be obtained from thrift stores, yard sales, or even the dumpster. Instead of shelling out tons of cash for new designer furniture, you can enjoy beautiful pieces that are new to you without the high price tag.
- Creativity: The process of upcycling allows you to express and show off your creative side. Whether it’s through painting, distressing, or literally rebuilding furniture, it’s a great way to learn new skills and creative techniques. Upcycled furniture tends to have tons of personality and unique features that mass-produced products don’t.
- Giving New Life to Old Furniture: Used furniture may look like it’s worthy of the trash but upcycling it can give these items a whole new life. A coffee table with a scratched tabletop can be completely transformed into a beautiful statement piece. Chairs with torn upholstery can easily be revamped to become your favorite reading chair.
- Less Waste: Furniture that sits in a landfill can remain there for years, causing harm to the environment. When you upcycle, you’re helping to create less waste by repurposing and enjoying things that already exist rather than buying something new.
- Customize Your Furniture to Fit: Whether your home is large or small, you can customize your upcycled furniture to fit your lifestyle and your space. You can make tables shorter or taller, and you can also make sure that the furniture fits with your décor. Essentially, upcycling furniture allows you to customize items to suit your home and your taste.
Even if you don’t consider yourself artistic, it’s easy to upcycle furniture and make it fun. One of the easiest ways to do this is by painting old furniture in a new color. A wood table can easily be rejuvenated by transforming it from a dull brown color to something vivid and vibrant like grass green or sky blue. You can also update or change the finish of most wood furniture. Simply sand the wood to remove the old finish, then apply a new coat of finish or stain to give the furniture a fresh, updated aesthetic. Another upcycling technique involves changing out parts and replacing them with new ones. For example, add some metal casters to an old wooden crate or discarded tabletop to bring a fun, industrial-inspired vibe to your living room. If you love the farmhouse style, give your upcycled furniture a rustic look by distressing it or using chalk paint. The possibilities are endless, so make sure you’re creative and have fun while making your new creations.
Upcycling Ideas for Different Rooms
From your home’s entryway to the bathroom and beyond, there are several ways you can use upcycling to add new looks and new furniture to various rooms.
- Coat Rack: Take an old wood board or plank and paint or refinish in your favorite color. Attach some hooks or bent spoons to the wood, and hang it in the entryway for an easy DIY coat rack. Even a large tree branch can be made into a coat rack. Sand the branch and cover with a coat of paint or varnish, then attach it to a block of wood at the base using nails or screws to keep it upright.
- Storage Containers or Boxes: Vintage wooden crates make awesome storage containers. You can also take cardboard boxes and cover them with fabric or wallpaper to create charming shoe storage for an entryway. Take clean, empty paint cans and decoupage the outside in fun designs for quick storage of small accessories like mail and keys.
- Décor and Crafts: A vintage table lamp can have new life by simply adding a custom fabric shade and placing it on an entryway table. Cut the top of old shampoo bottles off at an angle, paint them, and hang them from a rope to add some fun hanging planters to your entryway.
- Nightstands, Dressers, and Bedside Tables: Look for antique or discarded nightstands and dressers and give them new life with a fresh coat of paint. Take a stencil and spray paint a unique pattern on the drawer fronts for a contemporary look. A simple sand and refinish can easily breathe new life into this bedroom furniture. Remove old hardware and add updated metal drawer pulls and handles for an instant furniture refresh.
- Old Mirrors: Revamp an old mirror by updating the frame. You can take a hot glue gun and glue seashells, glass, or tile mosaics around the mirror frame to give it a modern vibe. If you want something a bit simpler, just remove the mirror, then spray paint the frame in your favorite color.
- Lamps and Lamp Shades: Vintage lamps are easy to makeover by painting the base in a new color. You can even paint the lampshade itself to give your bedroom lighting a new look, or glue new fabric over the old lampshade. For a fun upcycling project, take old Mason jars and hang them upside down and use a light kit to create easy, rustic pendant lighting.
- Couch: Vintage couches are awesome, and you can upcycle one with a reupholster job. Switch out torn upholstery with luscious velvet fabric for a beautiful touch. If the old couch is in decent shape, simply change the legs to something new. Wood blocks or metal posts are great options to update old, scratched couch legs. You can even patch a damaged couch to make it look brand-new again.
- Coffee Tables and TV Stands: If the coffee table or TV stand is made of wood, a new coat of stain or paint is an easy DIY project. Paint the base or legs of the table in one color and stain the tabletop in another for a two-toned look. You can also use a nail gun and attach planks of plywood to the top of a TV stand or coffee table to give it a fresh, farmhouse-inspired feel. Take a vintage dresser, paint it or add decoupage to the case and drawers, and use it as a TV stand in the living room.
- Shelving: Make old shelving unique by applying patterned wallpaper to the inside or directly on the shelves themselves. Fabrics also work well to create a fun touch to older bookcases and shelving. If you prefer wall-mounted shelving, decorate or paint old wooden crates, wood planks, or raw wood slices and attach them to the walls using anchors and screws.
- Tables and Cabinets: Use an electric sander to gently sand off the old finish of dining tables and cabinets. Re-paint this furniture using spray paint, chalk paint, or a high-gloss enamel. To update an old dining cabinet, consider adding new doors or hardware. It’s an easy way to refresh old pieces by giving them a modern touch.
- Chairs and Stools: Repurposing dining chairs and stools is easy, especially if they’re made of solid wood. Follow the same steps for wood dining chairs that you would for tables to elevate their look. You can also reupholster old fabric dining chairs and add features like nailhead trim or button tufting to the back. Cut foam to fit a vintage stool, then cover it with your favorite upholstery.
- Frames: There are endless ways to upcycle old picture frames. Glue rhinestones, beads, and crystals to the frame for a romantic touch, or add some faux greenery or flowers around the edges to give it an organic vibe. Painting old frames is a quick and simple way to give them an update, too.
- Racks for Kitchen Utensils: Hang an old rake upside down and use it to keep your kitchen utensils organized. A vintage rolling pin can be mounted to the wall or cabinets to become an adorable towel holder. Bend vintage silverware into a hook shape, then attach them to a wooden board with a screw to hold all of your cooking tools.
- Reuse Cabinets for Towel Storage: Take an old cabinet and use your creativity to paint or finish it in your favorite colors. Replace a solid door with a clear glass door and use it to organize folded bathroom towels. Upcycled cabinets are also great to store toilet paper, cosmetics, and toiletries so you can declutter your vanity top.
- Shelves Above Toilet: An old baker’s rack makes a great etagere for shelving over your toilet. Paint the rack in a new color using an enamel spray paint to protect it from moisture. You can also mount shelving on the wall directly over your toilet using pieces of old wood or metal for a quick update.
- Décor Ideas: Old flower pots made of wood, ceramic, or metal make beautiful garden décor. Hang vintage gardening tools on a fence and wrap them in string lights to create a whimsical backyard space. Metal tins and buckets are wonderful planters and you can re-paint them or wrap them in fabric to add some new color to them.
- Chairs and Tables: An eco-friendly way to make backyard furniture is to take old wooden pallets and repurpose them into tables or chairs. Add some cushioning to your custom chairs for a comfortable and unique outdoor space.
- Old Window Frames: You can repurpose and upcycle old window frames and use them as a wall succulent planter. Staple chicken wire to the back of the frame, then use it to attach your plants to it, creating a “living wall.” Attach old windows together to create a custom outdoor greenhouse.
- Old Tires and Wooden Spools: Wooden spools make great accent tables, and you can also use old tires for backyard seating or décor. Tires can be repurposed as planters, or you can stack them up and attach them together for a casual seat outside.
Whether you’re looking for ways to declutter or need inspiration, upcycling furniture is a great way to bring new life to old items. Use your creativity to come up with new ideas that will make vintage furniture brand-new to you. Browse a variety of paint colors and fabrics that will inspire you to give each upcycle a breath of fresh and air personality. Through upcycling, you can contribute to a greener world and enjoy the quality that vintage furniture provides.