Play it again

Up­cy­cling fur­ni­ture is an in­ex­pen­sive way to add per­son­al­ity and style to your home in­te­rior, writes Colleen Hawkes.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - At Home -

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.

Mooch Style up­cy­cled a cabi­net to make the side­board be­neath the tele­vi­sion, and also up­cy­cled the lad­der shelv­ing.

Spot the dif­fer­ence – th­ese stools, from a Sal­va­tion Army store, were up­cy­cled by Sarah Her­ring, who painted them in Re­sene Galliano (gold), Zin­zan (blue) and Al­ways (white).


Wall­pa­per lines the in­te­rior of th­ese hexag­o­nal shelv­ing units. PHOTO: RE­SENE

This cabi­net re­painted in Re­sene shades in­cludes a sten­cilled back­drop. Styled by Clau­dia Kozun. PHOTO: ME­LANIE JENK­INS

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