blog posts · chalk paint · handpainting · how-to guide · upcycling

Upcycling – Getting Started

You’re joining me at the beginning of our upcycling journey, well for commercial purposes anyway.

I thought I would share how I got started, where I went for supplies, inspiration and mostly answer any questions or worries you may have about taking the plunge and having a go at upcycling yourself.

Firstly what does upcycling mean? It is as simple as painting a piece of furniture or anything really to give it a new lease of life but mostly old worn pieces that could do with some love and attention. It could however involve totally repairing and repurposing an item into something quite unique and innovative.

My past projects have included turning vintage teacups into candles, ornate picture frames into mirrors and blackboards as well as turning old crates into shelving.

Upcycling for pleasure, as a hobby and to revive your own favourite pieces is where most people begin and I am no exception. I take inspiration for projects from antique and homeware shops as well as from magazines to which I have somewhat of an addiction through to social media and looking at old photographs. Scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest is bound to give you tons of ideas and colour schemes.

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A great place to start is by handpainting a small item or piece of furniture and you only need a few basic tools to do so. Choose your paint, I do like chalk paint due to the ease of use and minimal preparation needed (although don’t believe everything you read as there are still a few must do’s!).

There are many brands to choose from and I have tried a few and have my own favourites but good places to start looking are Autentico,  Annie Sloan, Frenchic and if you fancy making your own check out Websters chalk paint. Alternatively if you don’t mind full on preparation such as varnish removal, sanding etc then most paints will do the job, I love the colours Farrow and Ball offer and also Little Greene.

I use sandpaper or wirewool on most pieces, fill any cracks and then clean the piece with warm soapy water to remove any dirt or grease.

Depending on the complexity of the project you may also want to to invest in some clear soft wax for sealing and protecting chalk paint and dark wax is good for an aging effect.

There are many sites offering great tips and techniques on how to use specialist paints and waxes and these will be useful to refer to if you are a complete novice however trust me it is not as difficult as it may seem.

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Most importantly you are doing this initially at least for yourself so trust your own instinct and go with what you think will work or that you like the look of, what is the worst that can happen?

Once you’ve found your feet there are lots of different finishes to try such as waxes, varnishes, distressed finishes, gold leaf and stencilling and probably a whole host more.

Questions I had included what brushes to use….well I did buy a few including one for the paint work, one for waxing and a specialist brush for painting detailed and more intricate areas. However for starters most general paint brushes will be fine. In terms of cleaning wax off brushes odourless mineral spirit works a treat.

If you use a wax after painting in chalk paint I have found that leaving it to dry for 24 hours in between coats works best and you may need 3 coats.

Once you’re done sit back and admire your handiwork, it really is satisfying!

I hope this has been a useful quick reference guide and I am by no means an expert just taking a hobby to the next level. I do get so many wonderful comments on the pieces of upcycled furniture in our house and it is that that has contributed to this new venture.

Give it a go and see, I would love to hear from you and see how you get on.

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