An Upcycling Project!

Moving back home after Uni, with triple the amount of stuff (sorry Mum), meant a lengthy clear out was only to be expected. After sorting through piles of stuff: recycle, donate, keep, we soon became rather ruthless. It was only when my Mum suggested throwing out an old piece of bedroom furniture when I realised how cut-throat this whole experience had been.

Heart-broken at the idea of demolishing the chest of drawers, I was resolved to upcycle this piece of furniture – my very own lock-down project. Knowing how pricey it can be to buy furniture (especially when you have expensive taste like me!), I was determined that upcycling was the perfect option for future me (in my imaginary London apartment).

After watching countless video tutorials and filled perhaps with a false sense of confidence, I made a list of all the things I could possible need.

Here is said list:

  • Masking Tape
  • Sand Paper
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint Brushes 
  • Primer
  • Furniture Paint 
  • Ruler 
  • Stencils 
  • Sponge 
  • Finishing Wax 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Brass Polish 

Here is how I went about my upcycling project and some tricks and tips I learnt along the way.

I began by firstly placing my furniture on a dust sheet in a spare room, where I wouldn’t have to keep moving it. This is especially important when you begin painting, as you do not want to have to move the furniture and risk damaging your work. I also placed newspaper under each leg to make the surface flat for painting.

Secondly, I removed the handles using a screwdriver and put them aside, ready to be polished at a later date.

Now to finally begin the project! Using sand paper, I sanded down all surfaces until the previous colour and varnish has all disappeared. I did this again with the drawers. When sanding, make sure to wear protective equipment to avoid inhaling the potentially harmful dust! As this particular piece of furniture was quite old, this was even more crucial.

After sanding down each surface, it’s time to have fun with the masking tape. Being a complete painting amateur, I followed the thinking the more masking tape the better, making sure each area around the mirror, on the drawers and hinges was covered. This was quite a fiddly task, but you can never be too cautious! I believe apply as much masking tape as you feel is needed!

The next task was to apply paint primer. The primer I used needed 6 hours to dry fully, so make sure you factor in paint drying times into your project (I was completely unaware of how long paint takes to dry), but it does make complete sense now I think about it. I applied two coats of light-coloured primer all over my furniture.

When the primer was completely dry, it was time to begin painting my furniture. I chose to paint the drawers a different colour to the main body, for contrast purposes. Applying paint is where you can be the most creative and experiment with your own taste. Deciding on a pale green for the main body, or ‘fresh herb’ as its officially called, and ‘brilliant white’ for the drawers I began my painting journey. Each colour required three coats, as I found even after two, I was not entirely happy with the finish – you could still see some paint brush strokes. When painting try and have all your brush strokes going the same way, from one side to the next to avoid a streaky finish.

!!Top tip: On your last coat of paint, remove the masking tape whilst the paint is still wet, to avoid it peeling off when dry!!

Also make sure to mix your paint before you begin each coat – the paint can separate in the tin.

Waiting for the paint to dry was the perfect opportunity to clean the drawer handles. Opting to try and clean the brass ones, instead of purchasing new ones, I was on a new mission. Having smothered them in ketchup (I had no HP sauce!) I still believed they could be cleaner. Using Brasso on them worked a treat and had them shining away in no time!

The next step in my upcycling journey involved painting the drawers with a mixture of free-hand and stencil work. Choosing a simpler design meant less chance of ruining my work – so I believed! Using a ruler to measure the stencil placement was vital and meant that each leaf print was matching. I have found that less paint is more when completing stencil work, as this prevents the paint from running. Also you want to make sure the stencil is lying as flat as possible on the surface. As I only needed a minimal amount to paint, I used small sample pots of paint to save money and resources.

The penultimate stage was to set my furniture with furniture wax – a top coat for furniture if you like. This helps seals the paint and gives it a lovely finish.

And finally it was time to reassemble my furniture. Refixing the drawer handles, inserting the drawers and cleaning the mirror. Of course not forgetting to take a picture for Instagram!

I can’t wait until my furniture has a proper place within my home in years to come (when I move out!) I’ve very much enjoyed breathing new life into this piece fo furniture, and if you’re ever looking for a beginner friendly project, and have some free time, you should deffo consider upcycling a piece of old furniture!

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