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How to Upcycle Furniture: 5 Creative Upcycling Ideas to Get You Started

18 June 2019

“Upcycling” - the process of giving used items a 'makeover' to render them as good as new - or better - is a concept that has been around for years. However, recycling, reusing and refurbishing has never been more on-trend than it is now. By giving new life to used items, not only will you come out with something original and unique, but you’ll also be doing your bit for the environment.

If you’re curious about this technique and want to know a little more about how to upcycle furniture, look no further. Here at B&M we stock an amazing range of tools and materials to help you give your old items a whole new look. Read on for some great affordable upcycling ideas for the home to get you started.

Tidying Up 

Sometimes, all your furniture needs is to be neatened up. Rough or worn surfaces can be smoothed down with a sander or, in extreme cases, a plane. Make sure that your furniture’s panels are sturdy enough to take this kind of treatment first, though, as some may be covered with a thin laminate which can quickly wear away if treated too roughly.

Take care of wobbly legs and other parts using a set of allen keys (or hex keys), or a good screwdriver. Secure any parts that don’t require screwing together using UniBond No More Nails wood adhesive, or use it to provide support for existing screws or dowels.

Stripping Back

When considering how to upcycle furniture that is looking tired or chipped, why not consider just giving it a new lick of paint? Many furniture shapes are timeless, and often it’s just the colour that makes your item look dated.

To ensure that wooden surfaces absorb new colour properly, it’s usually best to first remove any existing finishes first. The easiest way to achieve this is to sand the furniture down, either gently by hand with sandpaper - for more delicate jobs - or with an electric sander for bigger, tougher ones. For thick paint and varnish, you may also consider using specialist paint and varnish remover. Be sure to use proper hand, face and eye protection when using strong chemicals!


You may not always have to remove finishes - the best paint for upcycling can often be applied without any prepping at all.

Cheap Paints and Finishes

When looking into cheap emulsion or paint, think about how you want the furniture you’re working on to look in relation to the rest of a room’s decor. Think too about current trends, and take your time to decide on a clear style.

We love the Johnstone’s Revive Range, which contains lovely chalky pastels such as Duck Egg Blue. Soft shades in a matte finish is a strong trend at the moment, and light, airy colours will give a spacious, relaxing feel. You can also provide your own little magic touch by using additions such as Turner & Gray’s paint glitter for a subtle sparkle.

In order to achieve the best paint job for upcycling furniture, wait until your final coat is dry, and then cover with clear finishing wax for a smooth surface that’s hard to scratch.

B&M’s high-quality cheap paint for furniture and other specific household surfaces can be found in our specialist paint section. We also stock a wide range of cheap emulsions.

Always remember to take care when selecting the right brushes for use on wooden surfaces. Turner & Gray provide perfect specialist tools.

Going Minimalist

Minimalism is one of the most popular furniture upcycling ideas for the home at present, so you may choose to completely remove any coloured finishes and leave your furniture with its natural wood exposed.

The best approach here is to strip all paint and varnish from the surfaces, give them a sanding and a wipe down, then rub in some boiled linseed oil to bring out the natural grain of the wood and give it a richer colour. You can also treat it with quick drying varnish for a glossier look.

Finishing Touches

Once the general structure of your furniture has been improved using cheap paint, emulsion, varnish or other finishes, and any wobbles have been rectified, you may want to give each piece a little attractive detailing. Chairs can be livened up by attaching a stylish cushion, and you might consider adding interesting new knobs or handles for doors or drawers.

If you’re wondering how to upcycle furniture on the inside, one fun approach is to line drawers and cupboard interiors with pretty wallpaper, then finish with a thick coat of varnish over the top to reduce wear. We love our Velvet Crush foil wallpaper in rose gold for this purpose.


B&M Top Tip: if you’re waiting for inspiration to strike, why not browse our full selection of DIY materials, wallpapers and paints to jumpstart your creativity?

If you have any upcycling ideas for the home that you’ve already undertaken successfully, why not share them with the B&M Community - along with pics of the finished products - via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

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