A Lesson in Upcycling

A Lesson in Upcycling

A Guest Blog from Caz Chapman

I grew up loving art and all things creative. We would spend many weekends wandering round National Trust properties and admiring all the beautiful interiors. The bold use of colour and thought that went into each piece of furniture and interior has always inspired me.

When I moved into my first home I realised how hard it was to find pieces of furniture that were unique without breaking the bank. I felt many flat pack options lacked the quality I wanted and the style I was looking for. My house is modern but my furniture ranges from antique pine chests of drawers to bold modern painted cupboards to give a focal point. I love colour in furniture and it’s such an easy way to add flair to a room without having to redecorate!

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So my lovely Mum and I got thinking and about a year ago we started our own little venture called Dotty & Fred (after my love for my polka dot jeans and my Mums nickname Fred). We buy good quality second-hand furniture and upcycle each piece to give it a new fresh modern look. We also paint furniture that people own already to the exact colour and style they want.

My Mum is an expert in the rustic and Scandinavian styles many people love at the moment and she is a demon with the sandpaper to give that perfect distressed look. I love something a little bit different like my union jack pieces that are painted freehand. But we are pretty much able and willing to try anything!

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Upcycling and painting pieces for a nursery or playroom is so much fun because a lot of the time people want colour and something a bit different. There are no rules…you can do exactly what you want! Be creative and experiment with colour and finishes.

If you have a neutral room, using colour in your furniture is the perfect way to show off your personality and it can easily be changed in the future when the children are older or your style changes. Look for inspiration in magazines, on social media and the internet. Maybe use colours and themes from your child’s favourite book or nursery rhyme. Choose something you like and go from there. There are so many chalk paint colours to choose from that the possibilities are endless! Chalk paint is also completely safe to use in children’s rooms and on their furniture and can be applied to almost every surface from wood to glass and metal!

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Upcycling should not be difficult or stressful. It should be about injecting your style and personality into the piece you are working on. It is such a good way to re-love the pieces of furniture you have already and give them a total transformation. Alternatively, if you want to buy a piece of furniture there are so many places to find inexpensive and good quality items; charity shops and auctions are a good place to start looking! Quality is the key – there is no point buying something that needs a lot of work if it is not going to look amazing when it is finished. If you are going to try upcycling it needs to be fun! Also, the least prep work there is, the better.

Finding the right piece of furniture is the hardest part but it is worth it when you find the perfect piece. Once you have the piece of furniture you want to transform, the whole process is easy. We would recommend you sand any areas that have damage or an unsmooth surface, but you definitely don’t need to sand the whole piece. Then using a good quality chalk paint apply your first coat. When its dry apply a second coat, any brush marks you could see will disappear and you will be left with a lovely smooth finish.

However, if you want more texture then applying the paint a little thicker and with varying strokes gives a really good textured finish. To finish off you just need a good layer of clear wax and then polish until its totally smooth! The wax protects the paint and adds durability to the finished product. It makes it easy for you to wipe off any sticky finger prints too!

For areas that will get higher wear like table tops, I would recommend you add at least of couple of layers of wax, allowing a few hours between each layer for it to set hard. No priming needed when you use chalk paint which makes the whole job much easier.

If you want to get extra creative you can also experiment with sanding to give the distressed look, dark wax, crackle glaze and decoupage to name just a few. Layering colours and sanding through to see what is below works well, especially if you use strong contrasting colours. If you want something extra-special, then you can paint pretty much anything you want free hand. Just remember to clear wax everything when you have finished to protect your furniture.

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There is nothing like seeing a piece totally transform once it is painted. I never get bored of choosing the colour and then seeing the finished article. It is by far the best part of upcycling!
There are no rules with upcycling. Just go for it and enjoy it!

About Caz

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Caz Chapman and Jacky Smith own Dotty & Fred based near Bourton-on-the-Water. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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1 Comment

  1. Julie Drew
    October 1, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    Hi are you still going upcycling courses? I’d be interested. Thanks

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