Home Home & Build Ideas Forget about recycling, try upcycling!

Forget about recycling, try upcycling!

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Some tips on how to upcycle… 

Upcycling (otherwise known as creative reuse) is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. Upcycling is really about turning your concept of waste on its head and seeing the potential in things and materials that we no longer use. 

Upcycling is cost effective as well as being sustainable and it is also a great way of putting a personal twist on a new feature in your home. It also conserves the environment as upcycling reduces the amount of waste that is dumped in landfills, conserves limited resources, reduces the cost of production, encourages innovation and creativity whilst also supporting local industries.

First and foremost when it comes to upcycling, preparation is imperative. Plan ahead and ensure you have the tools and equipment you will need for the task at hand. Ensure that furniture is cleaned thoroughly before you begin to work on it and remember to factor in time at the end in case you need to make any corrections to your work.

Charity shops, car boot sales and the attic can be great places to find pieces of furniture that need some TLC. With some paint and imagination, you can create something fabulous and totally unique.

Make sure to match the era of the piece of furniture with the style of upcycling. An old 1950’s G-plan sideboard just won’t work painted in pastels and then distressed looking.
Spend a few extra Euro on good paint brushes as cheap paint brushes can leave bristles on your work and they won’t give as good of coverage as they slightly more expensive ones will. When you are not using your brushes, remember to wrap them in tinfoil or cling-film to keep the brush moist and wash them as soon as you are finished working with them.

Don’t be afraid to let your imagine shine! Be imaginative when you see items that you think would make great accessories. Ladders are a great plant holder as well as washing machine drums making wonderful flower pots.

Old socks are great to use for applying wax to furniture. Ensure the socks are clean and not too fluffy to ensure no loose fibres will stick to the wax.

Some items that you can use for upcycling and that will look rather cool when they are displayed include: turning an old ladder into a bookshelf, a vintage suitcase into a chair, old books into shelves, hangers into a room divider, tennis rackets into a mirror, a chair into a shelf or closet unit, bowler hats into lamps, a bathtub into a couch, an old television into an aquarium, wine bottles into a chandelier, a bike wheel into a clock, a bicycle into a sink stand, wrenches into wall hooks and bottles into pendant lamps.

One of the most straightforward ways to make something look brand new is to paint it as well as trying to cover up any scuffs or scratches whilst also creatively adding something to your home that matches the current décor. 

You will need to choose the colour you wish to paint the object with first. If you are keeping to a budget then why not see if there is any left over paint in a cupboard that might do the job or you could ask family or friends if they have any paint that no longer want. Invest in paint brushes and primer and before you begin painting, ensure you have a the surface covered as you don’t want paint to damage to the floor or surface you are working on. 

Use sandpaper to even out wooden surfaces and check you are using the correct sandpaper begin you begin sanding.

If the item you are upcycling is varnished, use a solvent to strip it or alternatively use some elbow grease with your sandpaper and scrub hard! Once sanding is complete, you can then apply the primer. Priming the item is essential as it will ensure the paint is applied nice and smoothly as well as avoiding the paint flaking off.

There are lots of effects you will get depending on the paint you use. If you decide to use leftover chalk paint that was used as a feature wall in the bedroom you will find that this creates a lovely rustic and textured effect. Gloss paint will leave the item looking shiny, silk paint will offer a subtle sheen and eggshell will offer a semi-matte effect.

You could also add another layer of paint in a different colour to create a striking contrast; when you start sanding the colour underneath will be revealed as you sand this new top coat away. If you are up to the challenge, you could also add some embellishments or decoupage. When you have finished adding your designs to the piece of furniture, apply a layer of wax or varnish to protect your creation.

On the other end of the scale, a lick of paint may not be needed to reinvent a piece of furniture; if you really love how the object looks then all it might need is a simple change such as putting a new set of handles on a chest of drawers! If you want to re-invent your dining room chars then why not saw off the arms and repaint it?! 

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