The hunt for hidden gems: upcycling old furniture

Timeworn furniture can be the starting point for a fresh creative journey. But furniture upcycling is also a sustainable and affordable solution for furnishing your home in a unique and creative way. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian businesses and households throw away more than 20 million tonnes of furniture waste annually. There is treasure to be found in pre-loved furniture and home decorations if you know what to do with it, to save it from hitting landfill.

Scour op shops, garage sales and auctions

If you’re ready to look past the dents and scratches, there’s hidden beauty in all kinds of pre-loved furniture. While scouring op shops, garage sales and auctions – or even your own attic – can feel like a grown-up treasure hunt, the thrill of finding a potential upcycling gem is priceless.

The art of transformation

Once you’ve decided on an item, the real fun begins. Seeing a piece changing from a dilapidated curb-find into an eye-catcher is utterly satisfying. With a vision, some elbow grease and a good measure of determination this journey is feasible for anyone. Start by working to your skill level and start with small, achievable projects, rather than getting frustrated by a huge, difficult restoration process.

So, what makes a great beginner’s project?

Keep it simple

Paint is your best friend in the world of furniture upcycling. It can transform a drab dresser into a dazzling centerpiece. Experiment with bold colours, patterns, or even a distressed look. But don’t forget that once painted, it’s not easily reversible; paint tends to sit in the grain of most materials. The rule of thumb is not to paint anything that has historical value or is a collector’s piece.

If you do decide to paint your furniture project, prepping each surface is key to a successful paint job. This can include sanding, scraping and even preparatory base-layers, but the more meticulous in your smoothing of an uneven surface, the better the outcome will be. Patience is key in the realm of furniture restoration.

The wow factor

Don’t forget the finer – or bolder – details when it comes to dressing up your piece. Reupholster cushions with a funky fabric, add new handles to dressers or line drawers with beautiful wallpaper to add an element of appeal that wasn’t originally there.

For inspiration, turn to social media: Instagram and Pinterest are bottomless wells of design inspiration.

A simple dining chair is an achievable first upholstery project. Some foam, fun fabric and a staple gun can get you a long way. To learn more skills, hop onto YouTube or enroll yourself in a local skill-based short course.

Most importantly, enjoy the process and have fun. If DIY isn’t in your wheelhouse, consider signing up to workshops and classes, either online or in person. Bunnings run a series of DIY workshops across the country, or search Classbento for the specific skill you’re wanting to learn.

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