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Sustainable Living: Top Tips for Upcycling Furniture

Stop! Don’t throw that piece of furniture out - let’s see if we can upcycle it!!

Do you know that Australians throw out an estimated 240 000* tons of furniture every year?

You only need to walk the streets during a hard rubbish collection to see the large amount of perfectly good furniture being sent to land fill. So, if you see a piece with potential, grab it off the nature strip and get Upcycling! Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

*Based on a compositional survey of 2 500 Metro Australian homes (disposing of approximately 24

kg / yr each) and Bureau of Statics number of households in 2016 of 9.2 million

Sustainable Living - Top Tips for Upcycling Furniture

Top Tips for Upcycling Furniture

Tip 1 - Know your skills and ability!

If you are not an avid DIYer or this is your first piece best to start with something small that perhaps just requires some sanding and painting, then you can move on to projects that require a little more repair and some basic recovering of fabric. Before you know it you will be reupholstering your grandma’s 1920’s lounge!

Tip 2 - Choose your piece!

Not all furniture is made equal. You will usually find older wooden furniture is better made than cheaper modern pieces and therefore lends itself well to upcycling. The added bonus is it can usually be bought for a steal at op shops and online market places. But lesser quality furniture can be upcycled too and if you already own the piece or have saved it from the neighbour’s rubbish pile that is all the better!

Old table and chairs upcycling furniture

Tip 3 - Get some inspiration!

You might already know exactly what you want to create with your piece of furniture but if not a quick trip around Pinterest will give you endless ideas for styles, designs and genius hacks that you could apply to your piece. Think funky paint jobs and kids toys as handles!

Note: Make sure you think about where this piece is most likely to go in your home and ensure that you are creating something that will work in the space you plan to put it in.

Upcycled nesting tables

Tip 4 - Examine your piece!

Are their any issues with it? Loose joints, sticky draw runners, broken hinges, holes or splits. Most of these small problems are easily fixed with a bit of googling and quick trip to the hardware store.

upcycling cabinets

Tip 5 - Plan your approach!

A lot of us have a tendency to rush into projects without properly planning our approach or researching exactly what is involved. Spend sometime understanding what is required and researching the products you will need.

Most projects will require a coat of paint or laquear so it is worth making sure you research the paint you put on your furniture and ensure you are going for a low or no VOC options. Gather together the items and tools you will need to complete your project.

Tip 6 – Don’t skimp on the prep work!

Yeah, it’s boring and it takes time but making sure your furniture piece is correctly prepped will make all the difference to the finished product.

Start by cleaning the item up completely. Sand back any areas that require sanding. Fix all those faults you found in tip 3, tighten any screws and ensure you are starting with a solid piece of furniture.

Cow chairs and table, personalise your upcycled furniture

Tip 7 – Personalise your piece!

One of the great things about upcycling is you can create a truly unique piece that reflects your own style. You are limited only by your imagination – decorative or inventive knobs, creative paint patterns, interesting decoupage, funky fabric layers. Have fun and experiment.

Boho Upcycled arm chair in garden

Once you are done you will be amazed at the sense of satisfaction you have – you have created something beautiful, saved something from land fill and made a unique piece that is styled exactly for you! Now that is something definitely worth keeping!!

About the Author: Sarah Bos is a long time lover of all things sustainable interiors. She runs where she turns her passion for colours, patterns and textiles into producing eco-friendly soft furnishings. You can follow Eco Interiors at and



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