Posted on August 26th, 2020
Upcycling has become a hot trend amongst DIYers for the last several years. Do-it-yourselfers have been taking old furniture and giving it new life for centuries, but it now has a great new term—upcycling. Recycling has become more and more critical over the last few decades. We know more about the damage single-use items have done to the environment, and many people choose to combat that by reusing things in fresh new ways. However, if you are new to the upcycling world, you may not know where to begin! Here are a few tips for learning how to upcycle.
You do not have to use the vanity and dresser as a vanity and dresser. Upcycling is about making something into something else. You may keep the structure but repurpose a piece as well. That vanity and dresser are my desk and filing cabinet. Sure, they look mostly the same, but sanding, a fresh coat of paint, and inserts for the drawers can completely change the purpose of an item. You can also repurpose washbasins, whiskey barrels, cast iron cauldrons, and even turn chipped dishes into mosaic artwork or even create a new item for your dining room. Think about your vision for your chosen pieces. Get creative. Make them what you want them to be.
Put in time and effort. Sanding down furniture is hard work, and painting can be exhausting, but putting in a little extra effort can make a piece look fantastic. The more work you put in, the better it will be.
Make It Functional
Upcycling does no good if you still hate the piece. What if you do not love vanities as I do, and Grandma insisted that you keep her vanity, but you do not want a desk, vanity, or dresser? You will forever hate the piece. Find a way to make it work for your functions. Create a sofa table, entryway table, or sewing table from the vanity. You can cover it with a tablecloth, and no one will even know it was a vanity. Make the piece work in your home for you!
Take It Apart
No one says that you have to keep everything intact. You can remove the glass from a glass-top table and replace it with plywood and tiles. Place the tiles on the wood to keep them stable, but make sure the wood is hidden. Use the glass to create artwork to hang behind your sofa. Remove the doors from a wardrobe to create an entertainment center. If you do not like part of something or it is broken, make something else out of it. If you loved grandma’s china pattern, but the pieces are brittle and chipped, create a mosaic to hang in your entryway.
Consider the Function or Location
If your upcycled piece will be displayed outdoors or in a high traffic area, make sure that paint and varnish are used as a protectant. Add sealants and finishes that will protect your new artwork. You can keep that table looking new longer if you just put a coat of wax or finish over it. If the piece is decorative, make sure that it can be cleaned or dusted without damaging the surface.
Fabric is Your Friend
Re-covering old chairs can give them new life. Did you know that you can also paint the fabric to change it up? Upholstery can be challenging, but it can be done. You may have to watch a few YouTube videos to get the hang of it! Don’t be afraid to try something on a cheap item first to see if it will work.
Take a Shot
Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out the first time. Upcycling is about taking something old and giving it new life. We do not want to create waste, but many of these things would be discarded anyway. Use your creative mind and try something. If it doesn’t work, you will have only lost the price of a can of paint or some time cleaning. With many things, you can just paint over it. If you get tired of the white chalk paint in two years, sand it down and do something else. If you do not like the cauldron in the yard and want to bring it in, clean it up, and try something new. Upcycling is about showcasing your style and personality. No one has to know that you tried several times before settling on a design. The bottom line here is that you can do whatever you want to make something new. Make it yours.