Furnishing, Renovation & Maintenance

Upcycling furniture: Turn Trash into Treasures

You already recycle so why not upcycle? Upcycling is the term used for refurbishing or refinishing old pieces of furniture to give them a new lease on life. You can upcycle anything, old or new, to give your house a fresh look and feel. Not only is upcycling good for your budget and the environment, it is a great autumn/winter project for families. Here’s a handy guide to get you started.

What to upcycle?

Second-hand furniture is an obvious candidate for upcycling, but don’t limit your creativity to beat up old tables and chairs. Take a look around your house. Are the kids outgrowing their furniture? Do you have some dull IKEA units that need brightening up? Is the garden furniture faded? Whether you have pieces that need some TLC or just fancy a change, upcycling is the way to transform your home.

Tools & techniques


The number one tool in the upcycler’s cupboard is paint. A good layer of paint can rejuvenate any piece of furniture. Wooden chairs and tables, desks, coffee tables and end tables are all good places to start. You can lightly sand wooden furniture if desired, but you don’t have to unless it is has a lot of thick, flaking paint to remove. Just choose your colour(s), put on some old clothes, grab a brush and get to work in a well-ventilated space. Try contrasting colours or stripes to add interest. How about tables with bright legs and contrasting tops? Or chairs with metallic legs? Let your imagination go wild. After all, you can always paint it over!


Wallpaper isn’t just for walls. You can use it to upcycle shelves, cupboards or chests of drawers. Choose some patterns you like, then use them to line your bookshelves or cupboards. Not only does this add beauty and interest, it’s a good excuse to get everything out and dust! If you have a boring chest of drawers that needs a makeover you can cover the fronts of the drawers with wallpaper, instantly creating a brand new look.


Beautiful fabric is treat to the eye and to the touch. Take a look around your house and find some areas that could use a new look and feel. Recover your headboard to give your bedroom a new look, or find funky fabrics and decorate footstools in new colours. Tacking new fabric over an existing screen or room divider creates a fresh feel.

Furniture wax

You can revitalise unfinished or sanded wood by treating it with furniture wax. The wax will stain the wood adding colour and polish. This is a great trick for making plain wooden IKEA pieces look far more expensive. If you have any wooden furniture outdoors, treating it with wax is also a useful weather-proofing step, so it will not only look better but last longer!

What’s your favourite furniture fix? Share in the comments.

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