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English Living

Interior experts share a 6-step guide on how to upcycle - for beginners!

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Whether you’re looking to upcycle a pre-loved dining table you bought at the local charity shop or spruce up a cabinet you already own, getting started with upcycling isn’t as difficult as you may think! 

So, how can you get started and save some money with upcycling?

The experts at Hiatt Hardware have put together 6 helpful tips on how and where to get started on your upcycling journey, perfect for if you’re a total beginner or just someone looking for a refresh!


1. Sourcing old furniture

If you haven’t already got a specific project in mind, like an old bedside table or an old chair, but want to dip your toe into upcycling, sourcing your furniture is the first step! Finding pre-loved furniture is as easy as buying anything else, with many low-cost options available in your local charity shop, car boot sales, second-hand websites or even simply being given away!


When searching in charity shops, be sure to look past the excess dust, rough edges and chipped paint so you can get a vision of what the finished product could look like after a spruce and a fresh coat of paint.


2. Choosing the right style 

As you would when buying new furniture, you need to make sure that your upcycled furniture will complement the decor of the room in which it's placed. For example, if you're aiming for an antique look, you should be looking for curved finishes and raised mouldings, with the original cabinet door knobs and hinges.


Most upcycling furniture enthusiasts tend to go for an authentic look, but if you prefer the contemporary look, go for items with simple and clean features like straight legs, flat front drawers and classic, modern-looking cabinet knobs.


If you’re unsure which style direction to go in, check out some mood boards on Pinterest! It’s the perfect place to find inspiration and allows you to see your vision clearly, as you imagine it!


3. Finding a suitable workspace

By this point, you’ll have big ideas about what you want to do with your project, but first, you need to find a good place to do the job!


The space you're working in needs to be well-lit, spacious enough to work comfortably and well-ventilated (because of the varnishes and paint you may be using). You'll also need the right tools, which include masking tape, some good quality paintbrushes, sandpaper, a tape measure and a power drill (in case the job requires you to drill holes).


4. Prepping your project 

To fully start delving into the fun parts of upcycling, your furniture’s surfaces need to be fully prepped, and this step is one of the most important to ensure a perfect end result. If you don't remove all the dust, old paint and grime that's built up over the years, anything you paint over the top isn't going to look its best.


Before you can start adding your preferred paint or lacquer to the old furniture you're working on, you'll need to gently sand the wood down to the point where it feels smooth to the touch. Once the sanding is done and there's no more peeling paint or dents on the items, you can officially start getting creative!


5. Painting your project  

Depending on your style goals, you'll be choosing either gloss or chalk paint to revive your project - arguably the most fun bit of upcycling! There's a variety of DIY painting methods that can be used, but you don't have to be an experienced artist to do a good job. 


Typically speaking, your second-hand furniture is going to need at least two coats of paint in order to look its best, as one most often doesn't quite cut it. The first coat should be left on for 2-4 hours before applying the second coat, and if you happen to be upcycling a cabinet, you should paint the drawers first.


6. Finding the best metalware

While a simple lick of paint can make second-hand furniture look amazing, adding good quality metalware to your upcycled furniture project can truly elevate the piece. Providing an extra level of style, well-chosen pull handleshinges and cabinet knobs can have a transformative effect on old pieces of furniture.

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Ryan Calvert, product expert at Hiatt Hardware, says: 


“The good news is that upcycling furniture is something that everyone can learn how to do, as it's often just the right approach that's needed - and it’s great fun! It allows you to tap into your creative side and gives you access to furniture you simply wouldn't find on the market.


“With the right door hardware, tools, and a new coat of paint, your old wood furniture can enjoy a second life and give you years of function and enjoyment.”

Images by Hiat Hardware

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