As you know, here at Dooney & Daughters, we love to upcycle old furniture to give it another life. We run workshops where we have hands on practice on how to paint your furniture, teach different finishes and go through all our tips and tricks so you don’t make the same mistakes as us!
As not everyone lives in Auckland and can make it to our workshops, I thought I’d start a blog series to let you in on how you can also upcycle your furniture.
First up in this series we’re going to talk about choosing your furniture.
Upcycled chair and bedside table
1 - Buy classic items.
You should love the shape of what you’re buying. Make sure that it will fit with the rest of the furniture in your house. If you have a very modern, sleek aesthetic you might not want a Queen Anne style chair, but a mid-century modern cabinet might just add another layer to your decor. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of the finishes; paint, stains, handles and fabric are all easy to change!
2 - Solid wood items are preferable.
You can paint over laminate, but a solid wood piece is generally easier to paint (especially if you have minor repairs to do) and will last longer. Solid wood also tends to hold up to wear and tear better.
Upcycled hutch before and after
3 - Check for borer.
Borer are little beetles that eat the starch in your wood before ‘boring’ out when full grown, leaving external holes and internal damage. Having a bit of borer damage is ok but make sure the item is still structurally sound (i.e. the leg won’t snap off!) before buying. We recommend treating all second-hand items for borer whether you can see old holes or not. For more info on borer and how to get rid of it check out this blog post.
4 - Structurally sound.
In general your piece should be structurally sound or easy to fix. For example, replacing broken or missing handles is easy to do; but fixing a broken leg is a lot more complicated. Sit on the chair, open the drawers of the dresser, gently check that the side table isn’t wobbly; it’s always better to do this before you buy the item.
Selection of painted side tables
Hopefully these tips inspire you to see the potential in old furniture and to imagine how you could upcycle them. Do you have any projects on the go? Or have you always wanted to start painting furniture? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Next in the series I’ll talk about how to prepare your furniture so that you end up with a great paint finish.