Upcycling furniture

15 June 2020

by Helen

What is upcycling? Ideal Home defines upcycling as “breathing new life into old items – be it furniture, home accessories or even clothing.” This post reports on a few upcycling projects that we’ve undertaken so far in our B&B.

The previous occupant of our Hebridean house was a lady in her 90s. When she passed away and the house was cleared, a lot of the old lady’s furniture was left behind, for which we were extremely grateful.

One of the items left in the house was an old sideboard, which I thought would look nice in our newly-decorated bathroom. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly artistic person, but I had a vision of how this relic from the 1970s might look when it was upcycled. We sanded down the surfaces, painted them in colours to match the walls and added a bit of decor. The white vase we picked up from the local charity shop for £2.

We’re very fortunate that our local charity shop has a frequently-replenished stock of intriguing pieces of furniture and other household items, and that all sales go to a good cause (the local care home and hospice). For example, we picked up another sideboard, which we use in the breakfast room, for £40 (the bookshelves in this room are made from leftover floorboards – see below). We’ve also bought a sofa, small tables, cushions, crockery, paintings, vases and ornaments from the same shop.

Our floorboards have all been upcycled too. They were salvaged from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow by a floorboard recycling company. When we decided we wanted floorboards in our home, we searched for a greener alternative to chopping down even more trees and were delighted to find something not only eco-friendly, but with an interesting history too.

Upcycling furniture is not only good for the environment, it can also release your creativity. It gives us an enormous sense of satisfaction to know that we’ve tried something new and got a very pleasing result, and that we’ve honed our DIY skills in the process. In most cases upcycling is cheaper than buying new, and you end up with a very personal, bespoke item. What is there not to like about upcycling?

Here are some more of our upcycling projects – a couple of old chairs we painted and covered, a table we picked up from the charity shop for £4 and upcycled, and a stone we used to replace a broken lampstand:

What steps can you take now?
1. Buy secondhand furniture, either from local charity shops or online, instead of new.
2. Upcycle an old item of furniture (Note: Use paint with low VOCs.)
3. Really think about whether you need new furniture at all. Let your creativity shine!

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