Play it again
Upcycling furniture is an inexpensive way to add personality and style to your home interior, writes Colleen Hawkes.
Afabulous home interior doesn’t have to come with an expensive price tag. Upcycling furniture can transform your living space, and it brings a personal touch that you won’t find replicated in every homestore chain around the country.
You may have old furniture pieces that have knocked around in the family for years, or you may find something for next to nothing at a charity store, as Sarah Herring did.
Herring found two wooden stools at the local Salvation Army Family Store and painted them beautifully, in gold, navy blue and white, with a decorative pattern around the base. They have become two side tables that transform the room.
Shayden Whipps of Mooch Style in Christchurch has a lot of experience in upcycling furniture. If you are just starting out, he suggests starting with drawers because of their consistently regular shape and the fact that they are easy to sand and paint.
Whipps finds most of his upcycling projects on Trademe and likes to ask a lot of questions before purchasing. He says it’s important to check the furniture for borer and water damage before you purchase. He also recommends that you avoid pieces with laminate.
“There’s a lot of furniture that comes with a laminate but it looks like wood. It can easily be damaged or when you go to paint it, it doesn’t always stick well.”
Whipps also tries to limit his spend to $40 and under, with paint costs coming on top of that.
Colour expert and interior designer Debbie Abercrombie says paint allows you to have a little fun with furniture.
“If you have timber dining chairs, for example, you can paint each chair in a different colour and then do something that connects them. So, you could do chairs in four different colours around the table but maybe each chair has a white stripe,” she says.
“That eclectic look that we’ve had for a while has evolved a little bit, but it’s still there because it works. Old pieces work with new pieces. Unloved pieces come back to life.”
Abercrombie says while neutral shades are often used when painting furniture, bright colours shouldn’t be ruled out.
“Swapping out neutral pieces with colourful ones can reinvigorate your space. Furniture that’s decked to the nines in colour shouts: ‘Look at me!’ It adds drama to a room.”
Resene colour experts also suggest that you think outside the box when painting your piece.
“An ombre effect is very stylish right now. When painting a chest of drawers, paint each drawer a different shade of the same colour – dark at the bottom and light at the top.”
Using a metallic paint finish is another on-trend idea that can enliven a room.
Reupholstering furniture is also a great way to upcycle. Antonia Marino of Voodoo Molly Vintage in Papakura says, if you’re a beginner, it pays to start with a basic furniture piece.
“Starting off complex is the first step to disaster. Because it really destroys your motivation.
“If you’ve done no upholstery before, forget about the wingback chairs. Maybe try a foot stool or stools, possibly a dining chair or even the armless slipper chairs, those beautiful retro chairs that everyone loves.”
She also suggests that a beginner should look for a “re-covery, rather than reupholstery project.
“Re-covering is when you just take off the existing fabric and put new fabric on. Reupholstery is when you strip it all the way back to the frame, and you repad it and respring it,” she explains. “Re-covery is what you’re looking for.”
Using wallpaper on furniture can also transform a piece. Abercrombie says she often sees wallpaper used within a panel on the door, and then repeated on the wall behind the furniture. “You can easily do that with things like old tea chests.
“There’s also a trend for putting wallpapers on the back of shelving and on the inside of cabinets. You know how there’s sometimes really beautiful lining on a jacket? It’s that outrageous paisley or houndstooth. Well, we’re seeing people do it with furniture now. It’s very cool. It’s like the lining becomes the feature. And you only get to see it if you open the door.”
Resene suggests slipping a piece of wallpaper under a glass top to quickly transforms a side or coffee table. Pick a colour out of the wallpaper and paint the legs to finish your piece.
If you didn’t sow brown onions in spring, try sowing them now under glass in a light sandy soil for planting out in spring.
Early potatoes, such as jersey benne, may be chitted (that is, sprouted) by placing in a tray in a single layer and storing somewhere warm and dry – in or out of the light. These potatoes are ready to plant in the garden when the sprouts are about a centimetre or so long. • Early potatoes are best planted somewhere that gets morning sun. As well, be prepared to protect emerging shoots from frost with the likes of frost cloth, peastraw or layers of newspaper. The latter two will need to be held in place with netting of some sort to stop them blowing around. Prune pipfruit, grapes and kiwifruit.
If your flower borders are looking a tad bare, pop in something for instant interest, such as a grass, hellebores or a rotund hebe. Or plant a winterflowering shrub, such as witchhazel or wintersweet – as near to a path or door as possible, for easy imbibing of their glorious fragrance. For colour, try violas, pansies or Cyclamen persicum (these are commonly sold as pot plants).
• Alternatively, don’t plant these flowers in the garden; instead, pot them in a nice little container and use them as you might a vase of flowers on your table or sideboard.
• Macrocarpa and other conifer hedges may be lightly trimmed. • Prune shrubs that flower on the current season’s wood. This group includes buddleia, fuchsia, lavender, roses (but not shrub or climbing ones) and some spireas. • If soil is not too wet, lift and divide delphiniums, michelmas daisies, penstemon and phlox. Replant in soil with lots of compost dug in. This should give them a new lease of life – increasing the number and quality of flowers – and needs only be done every two to three years.