Sunday, 23 October 2016

Comfy Make: upcycled hallway table and cabinet

A couple of months ago, whilst rooting around one of my favourite charity shops, I found some pieces of furniture that I was sure I could upcycle into something rather fantastic.  I found a small side table with drawers, which cost £5, and a wall cabinet, which cost £4.  Both of which, whilst structurally sound, had clearly seen better days but had the potential to be transformed into something beautiful.  The Husband didn't seem at all convinced - I'd never recycled any furniture before, and he was sure that I'd never get round to doing anything with them and they'd fester in the attic for ever and a day.  Which, if I'm honest, probably gave me with the push I needed to rise to the challenge!

Sneak peaks of the cabinet and table;
you'll have to wait til the end to see them in all their resplendent glory!

Here are the finished articles; I'll show you them in situe in our home at the end:

Wall cabinet, just after I finished it

Side table complete (and still a bit sticky)

I've found that it's really very easy to give furniture a new lease of life, and doesn't cost the earth either.  You can buy brands of paint and wax or varnish that are specifically marketed for recycling furniture, however I've never really got on with them - I find them quite rough without giving an even coverage, and they cost extra as they're specialist stuff.  Personally, I much prefer bog-standard paint and varnish; they give the look I'm after, are easier to apply, and cost much less.  Remember that quite often a small amount of paint and varnish goes a long way, so you can often get away with tester pots and small tins which only cost a couple of pounds each.

If you fancy giving it a go yourself (and you really should, it's good fun!), here's what you need:

A piece of furniture
Sand paper, low grade
Paint (matt emulsion in the colour of your choice)
Paint brush
Newspaper or dust sheets
Varnish - silk or gloss, depending on your preference
Extra stuff: decoupage paper or lightweight wrapping paper (in which case you also need PVA glue), drawer handles or knobs

First, preparation!  Make sure you cover your floors with newspaper or a dust sheet.  Don't wear your best clothes; you're going to get a little messy.  Get your piece of furniture and check it over - fix any bits that need fixing, but don't be a perfectionist, remember that nicks and dents can give a piece character - you don't want it to look brand new necessarily. Make sure that it's as clean as possible; remove any dirt, paint bumps,etc. Remove any hardware such as drawer handles.  Finally, give it a light going over with the sand paper, to give it a 'key' (i.e. something for the paint to latch on to).

Now you're ready to paint!  As I say, I love the wide range of colour choices available in tester pots.  If you're unsure as to whether a tester pot will be enough for your piece, the staff at your local hardware store should be able to advise.

The pieces in progress

Give your piece a couple of coats of paint, two or three coats should do it.  Remember to cover all the surfaces that are likely to be seen; for example the inside of doors and underneath (if your piece is going to be wall hung).  Wait until each coat is completely dry before applying the next.  Then apply a couple of coats of your varnish.  When I worked on these projects I actually used a wax sold specifically for upcycling projects but, like I say, I've since found that standard varnish works just as well, and is much easier and often quicker to apply.

Your piece may now be complete, however if you're going to embellish it then now's the time to do it.  I covered the table top with some decoupage paper I got in a local craft store in the sale for £1.  I covered the surface of the shelves in the cabinet with some lightweight wrapping paper which cost less than £1.  If you want to decoupage a surface, here's what you need to do.

Brush the surface you wish to cover with a layer of PVA glue.  Then place the paper carefully on the surface, starting at one end and working your way along, gently working out any air bubbles that get trapped underneath as you go.  Wait for it to dry completely, then give it another couple of coats of the PVA glue to seal it.  That's it, it's really that simple.

Just about to add the paper to the top of the table; can you see the original dark brown wood?

I added this retro style wrapping paper to the shelves to give the piece a bit of extra whammy

Small changes can make a big difference, so consider changing drawer handles to give your piece some extra 'wow'.  The handles that were originally on the table were a bit dull and basic, so I added some glass drawer knobs which were no more than a fiver for a set of four from Home Bargains.  They're actually pretty sturdy and give the table some extra sparkle.

These drawer knobs cost a couple of pounds but look much more expensive
and really give the table a lovely finish

In total, I think I spent no more than £13 on the table and £10 on the cabinet. I think they look like they cost a lot more, they look fantastic in our home and we get lots of lovely compliments on them.  Here they are in situe - the big reveal!

The table sits in our hallway, next to our old church pew.  In an evening we switch on the fairy lights and the antique lamp with the Louise Brainwood shade and it just looks so warm and cosy.  I keep all manner of bits and bobs in the drawers, and my handbag usually resides on the low shelf.

Our hallway is quite narrow, hence the wonky photo angles!

...and the opposite view...

...and the table top in all its glory.
The postcard and frame cost £1 each from a charity shop, the jug cost £1.49 from a charity shop (only bought it yesterday, loving it!)
and the teak lamp base cost around £15 from eBay. 

The cabinet sits on a slim shelf just above our staircase.  It contains various trinkets I've either picked up in charity shops or been unable to resist online.  Size-wise it fits perfectly on the shelf and the blue colour really makes it pop against our white walls.

I love this shelf - it's a great place to show off some of my bits and bobs
and the cabinet fits beautifully on it.

Most of these are charity shop purchases, however the set of nesting dolls are by an amazing lady
called Ingela P Arrhenius; her stuff is right up my street and is stocked in numerous online outlets. 
Aren't they just gorgeous?!

I've since upcycled a number of pieces of furniture, some big and some small, which I'm sure I’ll introduce you to in the coming weeks and months.

Upcycling furniture is win-win-win as far as I'm concerned - it can be a darn sight cheaper than buying a new piece, it's individual (no one else in the world will have one like yours), it's creative (you can be as subtle or as daring as you like), it's mega easy to do, and it stops a perfectly good item of furniture going into landfill.  Downsides?  Well to be honest I can't think of any!

I'd love to see your upcycling triumphs - do get in touch!

PS: Husband has now eaten serious humble pie…

Bye for now xxx

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