Upcycling old furniture is the new black

Upcycling is super easy now with a host of products that take out a lot of the grunt work. Picture: Shutterstock.
Upcycling is super easy now with a host of products that take out a lot of the grunt work. Picture: Shutterstock.

When it comes to improving our home, it's not all about major renovations, you can totally change the look of your home from drab to fab with a furniture update.

Even soft furnishings can make a dramatic change - cushions, throws, a rug and a few lamps and your home can totally feel like you are all on board with the latest trend.

We want to take you a step beyond a soft furnishing update, but way less than a reno. Let's talk furniture, and in particular the solid stuff, timber or even laminate.

Today, we're not on a path to the high-end home furnishing stores, we're on a mission to scope out some serious bargains.

Let's think neighborhood council collections, the Salvos' secondhand furniture, family discards or even that piece you already have that's bringing the look of your home down. We're upcycling, baby, and it's going to be fun and totally transforming without blowing the budget.

To fit out our new shop in Newport, NSW we made inquiries for custom shop fittings as well as looking at new furniture, but it was all looking pretty darn cost prohibitive.

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Find free or second-hand furniture

The first stop on our furniture bargain hunting safari was our local Salvos' store, which has a dedicated furniture section. We hit gold, picking up a pair of classic 1980s colonial timber hutches and a semi matching 2m long sideboard.

Whilst in the 1980s we dreamed of having this country-look furniture, in the 2020s we've moved on - but the classic lines of this style of furniture is perfect for upcycling.

Preparation is key

Upcycling is super easy now with a host of products that take out a lot of the grunt work. To achieve the best results it's all about the right prep - cutting corners will generally lead to either bad finishes or poor performance in the wear and tear department.

Back in the day we had no choice other than to sand timber right back, prime it and resand in a hope of getting a smooth enough surface for the paint to take hold and look smooth.

Now there are so many great products available that not only make the job a hell of a lot easier, but also result in better finishes.

Get the right products

There are specialty products designed to bond to treated timber, lacquered finishes and even laminates. The priming products adhere to the surface you are working with allowing your top-coat paint to adhere to the primer.

Talk to your paint specialist in the hardware store or even contact the paint company. By explaining what you are working with and what you want to achieve, a specialist will be able to recommend the best products for the job and the steps you need to get a great result.

Upcycle your kitchen

Upcycling with paint and the right primers is not limited to furniture, it works just as well on kitchen cupboards and even benchtops. We worked with Jules and Cam from MAFS and took their kitchen from dark and dreary to pretty darn fabulous by painting the cabinetry, the benchtops as well as the tiled splashback - it was all about using the right products.

Our Block friends Ronnie and Georgia took their dated kitchen to Georgia's classic effortless chic with a paint refresh and adding stone benchtops - and a tip: for smaller benchtops look for stone off-cuts at stone suppliers.

To get the best finish remove the cupboard doors to paint. It will be worth the effort with the end result. New door knobs and handles will add the finishing touch and there are plenty of affordable options out there or perhaps you can splurge on this element.

We've just completed the upcycling of our bargain finds in a soft fresh mint tone with some fab eclectic knobs and so we welcome you to drop by mitch and mark HOME next time you are in Newport and give us a score out of 10.

  • Mitch and Mark, winners of The Block 2021, are long-time renovation lovers and have a flare for making spaces glamourous. See mitchandmark.com and listen to their Reality Reno podcast.

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