How to upcycle and transform old furniture for next to nothing!

Upcycling is one of the easiest ways to get great quality furniture without spending a fortune. When buying new, a hundred quid will probably get you something cheaply made or wood veneer, whereas a hundred quid spent on second-hand furniture could get you some well-built solid wood pieces, which will last for years to come. We did exactly this with our children’s beds. Finn actually has my childhood bed, and Lola’s bed was £20 from a selling site.

On top of this, it’s great for the planet to save preloved furniture from going to landfill, so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too! The best bit about upcycling is that when it starts to look tired, or you fancy a change, you can sand and repaint to give it a new lease of life again! You might have fab pieces in your home already, just waiting for a facelift! A fresh lick of paint can transform what you’ve got with very little expenditure.

My 2019 target was to repaint all of the woodwork in the house; I did the kid’s beds at the same time and with the same paint, so it didn’t cost me a penny. Paint is a great way to make mismatched pieces of furniture feel more uniformed.


What you’ll need:


Step-by-step instructions:

Step One

Clean the furniture well with sugar soap and allow to dry.


Step Two

If it has been previously varnished, sand really well with a coarse sandpaper to dull the shine. For previously painted furniture, a gentle sanding will usually be sufficient, but if the paint is in poor condition you may want to strip it first.


Step Three

Clean the sanded wood to make sure you have a fresh surface to paint on. Fill in any knocks and scratches at this point too, if you want a ‘new’ look, or leave them if you like the character it adds to older pieces.


Step Four

Paint the wood with primer, allow to dry (see instructions on the tin) and then do a second coat. You don’t need to sand in-between coats of primer. Make sure you buy a product which will block the knots in the wood, if you don’t want these to come through the finished paintwork.


Step Five

Paint the wood with your chosen paint – I like to use a brush for the cutting in and fiddly bits, and a mini foam roller for the main areas, to avoid brush strokes as much as possible.

As they were previously unpainted, the kid’s beds needed three coats but each coat was pretty quick. I didn’t paint the slats, so apart from 6 hours drying time in-between, they were straight forward to paint. You do need to sand between coats, but only lightly and with a less coarse sandpaper at this stage.


Lola’s bed before…


And after…

It makes such a difference, so buy second-hand and give it a go! You’ll get much better quality, long-lasting furniture for a fraction of the cost!


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