Furniture thrifting allows you to get creative without getting too technical. After all, who doesn’t like free furniture or furniture on the cheap? It just needs a coat of paint, a dash of can-do attitude and some TLC.
Then again, who knows the life cycle of that armchair, with the tiniest tear, lounging on the sidewalk? You could cut open the cushions and find anything, or have ruined a perfectly decent and free chair. These are the types of things that keep those with crafty hands up at night.
It’s hard to know when to pick a thrifty item to upcycle, and then when you do pick up that armchair, how do you know you can actually fix it up? That’s why you have this lovely list of four furniture fixer-uppers, from the most challenging to projects that require you to slap on a coat of paint and call it a day’s work:
It may feel like you’re trying to dress a dragon for a formal dinner, but reupholstering an armchair doesn’t have to be so challenging. It will take determination, order and a few hours of your time.
You’ll need to find the right fabric. If you have pets, avoid delicate or heavily textured fabrics. Fade-resistant fabrics are best for placement near a sunlit window. Remember that color trends come and go, so choose a durable fabric you’ll want to live with for longer than a season. Ideally, buy your fabric after you disassemble the armchair’s upholstery and have measured what you need more precisely. Or if you know what type of chair you have, there are several guides online that can help you guesstimate how much fabric you need. It goes without saying that you should always buy more fabric than you think you’ll need.
When you reupholster an armchair, always begin at the bottom since you’re taking the fabric off in reverse of how it was upholstered. I highly recommend spraying down the chair with disinfectant. It will help cover odors you didn’t expect to encounter along with the obvious antibacterial bonuses. Under the chair, you should remove the exterior frame with a screwdriver and a hammer to get to the original fabric. To remove the staples holding the fabric in place, you’ll want to have a helper. Trust me, once you think you’re done removing staples, you’re probably not.
Remove fabric panels in order of how they were assembled. This way you can also use the original as a template when you reupholster. Be careful of the metal ply-grips. Make sure all cushion buttons are taken off. Once you remove the original fabric, cut the new fabric pattern to match the old template. By laying the fabric down on the back of new fabric, you can make sure it goes back on the correct way. You’ll be reupholstering in the opposite direction you removed the old fabric.
If there’s piping, remember that goes in reverse, too. There will be stapling and tucking. There will be challenges, and it’s important to document every step. For the exterior woodwork, you may want to re-stain it before reapplying. Reupholster the armchair cushion. Spray down the fabric with a protective stain guard, and admire your work!
Ever stumble across a beautiful vintage dresser, but it had a broken drawer? Sure, you could replace the drawer, but what if you removed more and made a wine rack?
Those removed shelves become space for wine storage. Just add some slats to hold the bottles in place. This could be difficult for those opposed to using a table saw. You’ll also need to take measurements, use multiplication, drill holes and use other tools. Take the challenge to dress up a disheveled dresser if you’re a wine enthusiast and have a dining room that begs to be filled with furniture.
Besides, who needs clothes space when you have room for more wine?
Remodeling a small bathroom? If you’re against pedestal sinks, consider upcycling a side table to support a sink. You’ll need a side table that is sturdy and made of quality wood, with slight wear and tear. The basic steps of upcycling the side table include:
Remove the area you’ll need to run your plumbing through. It’s probably best to ask a stone mason to cut out the holes with the sink and faucet you’ve chosen as a template. Re-attach your drawer box with wood adhesive. You can always add shelving to gain storage. You can trim affordable granite remnants to fit and attach them to the table with construction adhesive.
With a little upcycling, glue and help, you’ve got a clever small space workaround. You: One. Tiny bathroom: Zero.
Sometimes, a new coat of paint is all you need to upcycle a sturdy chair or another piece of furniture. It all comes down to style. The distressed look is fast becoming a classic trend that adds a rustic touch to any area of the home and can be used on nearly any piece of furniture.
One of the easiest distressed paint looks is quickly achieved on a wooden chair. You don’t need any fancy tools. All you need is time, paint, paint brushes and petroleum jelly. Yes, you read that right.
You’ll apply a darker paint first. It’s OK if brush strokes are visible, it adds to the character of the piece.
The distressed look is added by applying petroleum jelly with a cheap brush. Then, paint over the jelly with the light-colored paint. As the paint dries, cracks form and you have upcycled your first piece of distressed furniture.
When upcycling thrift store furniture, consider the possibilities. If you are new to upcycling, start small and grow into more challenging projects.
Don’t frown at what’s ugly. You’re going to fix that with some furniture thrifting.
Consider the possibilities under an ugly print. Look at the lines, structure and sturdiness of used furniture. Consider your current needs. Could that dresser be a bookshelf, a wine rack or – drumroll please – both? When you find your upcycle dream piece, stealthily sneak it up to the register, and let your imagination run wild.