Upcycling for beginners – how to repurpose your existing furniture


There is more to upcycling than making great savings on home décor. Furniture renovations are a trend that’s here to stay, and repurposed vintage furniture creates a luxurious, high style look. Savings are simply an added bonus.

Coined in 1994, ‘upcycling’ means sustainably reusing items, creating something useful from waste. Do it right, and you can create some truly unique pieces for a lively home.

Learn the tricks to successful renovations, and you may never purchase brand new furniture again.

Preparation is key

Before taking on a project of any size, take some time to prepare. Plan your desired look, taking inspiration from blogs and interior design sites. The best thing about upcycling is it suits any look, from shabby chic or industrial, to classic and luxurious.

Sites like Upcycle That allow you to start with the raw materials you have available, and draw inspiration for how to use them. Be imaginative but practical – oh, and suitably prime all surfaces before you begin.


When you’re new to upcycling, over-ambitious plans are a common mistake. Start small and simple, then build to more complex tasks once your skills and knowledge have grown. One great way to inject creativity into the simple tasks is to make use of exciting accessories.

Paint a well-loved bed frame in your chosen colour, then invest in a new under bed storage or a quality headboard from Divan Beds Centre. Combining new and used items is a wonderful trick to help you create furniture that feels high quality and brand new.

Investing in new, metallic handles for well-loved cabinetry is another simple way to bring vintage items into the 21st century. It’s even possible to decoupage surfaces with your favourite prints and wallpaper.

Know your materials

It pays to take some time to understand the furniture you are planning to revamp. If you’re working with wood, understand the wood type, and how to suitably prepare it for painting.

When selecting paint hues and finishes, always work with your furniture’s original style. If you’re refreshing a beautiful mahogany dresser, opt for bold or luxurious paints over chalky finishes and pastel hues.

Invest in the right tools

Since upcycling can be a cost-effective way to furnish your home, new renovators often reuse old paint brushes and poorly suited tools from the family garage. While this cost-saving approach can work, it rarely produces the best possible results.

Investing in quality paint brushes means you’ll achieve a better finish, with fewer brush strokes and a more efficient application.

Depending on your project, it is also a good idea to invest in paint stripper, a power sander, and quality wipe-on wood treatment products. Compare your project to the cost of brand new furniture, and the benefits are clear.

Once you become nifty with thrifty techniques, upcycling can even help to raise funds, for charity or your own online business. So, it pays to think of quality tools as a long-term investment.

Use a colour scheme

One of the simplest ways to ensure your upcycled furniture ‘fits’ with the style of your room is to make use of a colour scheme. Colour is the basis of all interior designs, so first decide if you prefer cool and carefree or bold and beautiful.

Any furniture should enhance the overall look of the room. A small green dresser can work well in rooms with a neutral look. But, if your chosen room already has a bold green feature wall, a soft cream dresser could make a better contribution to the space. Think about the storage and ornaments you’ll use in the space. Each item should contribute to the desired mood.

Think about the look you want to build, and use a combination of furniture paint, accessories and the best tools on the market to get the job done.