Upcycling Sunday #1 - How it Began

I am not an artistic person. I have very little creative flair and whenever Jack asks to play with paints or Play Doh a small part of me dies inside. So it has come as somewhat of a suprise to me that I've developed such an interest in hunting down and renovating old furniture. Or, as the cool kids call it, 'upcycling'.

So far I have done two 'projects' - one of which was nothing more than repainting an old bookcase, the other involved a little more creativity and dicking around (you'll find I use a lot of technical phrases like that here). With a lot of help from Pinterest I've got loads more ideas for the future so I've decided to start writing a regular feature to share my creations and document any lessons and inspiration I pick up along the way. I have to stress that I am still very much in the learning stages and anyone with an ounce of DIY knowledge who reads this and thinks I'm clueless...is correct. But with any luck I can learn, improve and maybe even create some pre-loved furniture/furnishings that are worthy of selling on. Or at least gifting to unsuspecting friends and family.

So to begin with I thought I'd write about how I started upcycling and the first purchases that I made.

I've always been a fan of old stuff. I love vintage/retro styles and generally speaking I find that things from the past were built to last - especially when compared with modern, mass produced furniture/clothing etc. I enjoy nothing more than mooching around charity shops, car boot sales and vintage boutiques in search of old school bargains. But I never seem to quite make it past the clothing, accessories and cute, kitsch ornaments. I wouldn't know what to do with a piece of vintage furniture. It would look completely out of place in my home and being a DIY novice it never occurred to me that I might be able to adapt it to fit in. Of course I knew that 'distressing' was a thing and shabby chic dressers are all the rage. I was familiar with the trend of renovating old (and sometimes new) furniture to intentionally make it look old and haggard. But I had no idea how to go about it and no real desire to learn.

Then one day, as part of my copywriting job an assignment came along where I had to write an article for a DIY website. Being at a bit of a loss, I took a stab in the dark and went down the upcycling route. My research was pretty suprising. Upcycling is a big thing and it sounded much simpler than I'd expected. It sparked my interest and so once again I turned to the oracle that is Pinterest and immediately started gushing over shelves made from old crates, brightly coloured bedside tables and animal print wallpaper decoupaged onto welsh dressers. I realised that shabby chic was just the tip of the iceberg; there are so many techniques and styles you can use to completely transform something that maybe looks a bit grotty but still has lots of life left in it into...well, anything you want. For me, it meant that I could replace some of the knackered furniture in my house without spending a fortune and I'd also be able to customise it how I liked. Which sounded pretty good.

And best of all, the tutorials made it sound like it wasn't beyond even my limited capabilities! I kept reading and pinning and watching Youtube videos and in the end I knew I just had to bite the bullet and have a go myself. I wasn't keen on spending too much money because a) we're poor and b) I really wasn't sure how well it would all turn out. Luckily I had an ugly old bookcase in Jack's bedroom that wasn't going to look any worse for a lick of paint so to begin with I just had to buy some materials. This is what I got:

A set of paintbrushes
A tin of chalk paint
A small tin of glitter paint 
Finishing wax
Lint free cloths (to apply wax)

Suffice to say some of the things have come in more useful than others (I'm talking about you, glitter paint) but I think I've rabbited on long enough now so I'll talk a bit more about the materials and what I did with them next time. 

If you have any experience or thoughts on upcycling furniture I'd love to hear from you. 


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