Hannah here - When we moved house 10 months ago, we really wanted to buy everything we needed for the house second hand, including our white goods. (you can read that post here). Aside from the huge costs of buying new tables and sideboards and washing machines etc, theres also all the extra energy and carbon used to create and deliver them. And, by Jove, we did it, saving hundreds of pounds and heavily relying on eBay, Freecycle and the lesser known but often more bargainous, Gumtree and Preloved. I count my ability to be evangelical about secondhand websites amongst one of my finest attributes.
Once home, and depending on the state of the furniture, we often either restore or customise it, and I thought i’d share 4 really simple ideas to upcycle 2nd hand furniture. I actually promised this post months and months ago so apologies to my old blog readers for my tardiness. Better late than never. eh?
4 Easy ways to Up Cycle Furniture.
1. Paint the tips of table legs
This little coffee table was 4 quid in a local shop closing down sale. I loved it as it was but decided to jazz it up a bit by painting the tips of the legs with neon orange paint. Doing this adds colour but is much quicker than painting the whole thing.
- Mark with pencil the line where you want your paint to stop on all 4 legs.
- Turn table upside down (legs in the air!) and put a bin bag (or large sheet of plastic) over the legs then push the plastic down over the legs , making 4 holes in the plastic. Stop pushing the plastic down at the pencil line. Mask the bin bag tightly around the line on all 4 legs. Only the tips of the legs should be visible, everything else should be covered.
- Spray a primer coat, allow to dry, then add a few coats of neon orange spray paint.
2. Use removable decals
Decals look great on furniture, as Pinterest will attest. Here I have sort of made my own, the result of a happy accident. The lovely Caroline, from Caroline South Decals accidentally sent me the rain drops instead of the hexagons so I ended up with both. Neither looked right, so I decided to cut the raindrop shape into a triangle and semi circle, and the hexagon in to two different hexigan half shapes, if that makes sense. The off cuts made rectangles, and when all stuck in a line in a random pattern, they look pretty dashing, I believe.
3. Paint metal bed frames
These Ikea metal bed frames were bought from Gumtree and eBay for 180 for the double and 30 for the single. We liked the shape but decided to paint them and make them a little more unique. My wonderful cousin came down to stay to help me.
- Stand the bits of the bed up in an area protected by dust sheets.
- Lightly sand the metal
- Apply 2 or 3 coats of Hammerite metal paint to the frames. I mixed the orange colour myself.
It is easy to do, but it is quite time consuming, so have some dashing company like I did, or failing that, a decent audio book, or the Womens Hour Podcast.
4. Spray paint or paint old laundry baskets.
We’ve had some old laundry baskets knocking about the house for years, and they are often available in charity shops. Baskets lend themselves very well to being painted, however, and I was a little bored of mine. Here I’ve done something really simple by giving them a 'dip dye' bottom but i’d love to have a go at something like this one day.
- Use masking tape to create a straight line around the basket
- If using spray paint, tape a bin bag around the upper half of the bin to protect it
- Apply a couple of coats of spray paint or paint.
Some more upcycling inspiration for kids from my home...
Over the last couple of years I've done a few different kids upcycling projects for Frankie's room. My favourite is her book shelf, an old and rusty card rack which was a fiver in a junk market. We sawed the long legs off, chipped the rusty coating off and sprayed it bright yellow. ts is a marvellous book shelf and Frankie-Rose can see all of her books. We spray painted the little chairs at the top of the post and some old wire storage boxes too. We also painted her cot and high chair! The following pics are by Kristy Noble
We arent too worried about using old furniture from a safety perspective but we always fully air the furniture before Frankie goes near it, as a precaution (like, weeks).
I have many more projects to complete also, top of the list is attempting to reupholster our sofa and armchair. Eek!
P.P.S One of the pieces of feedback we’ve received since asking you lovely lots to email us, was that you’d like to see some more content about ethical living. This was always planned, but we are making new attempts at this, beginning today. We are always open to receive feedback and we really do welcome it (as long as its constructive, obviously). I have often read blogs and wavered about whether I should email the blog owner to voice my opinion about something or other, and just in case thats you, this is a direct invitation to do so! Anything you’d like to see more or less of? Any subjects you want us to cover? Are we posting too much? Not enough? Spill the beans…