Let’s get this straight from the start – I am a complete beginner at upcycling. I’ve only done 2 projects- a chair & a display cabinet. I’ve learnt tons from both projects that I will be taking forwards in my future up cycling adventures. I believe it’s good to share your knowledge – so here are my upcycling tips for beginners.
What to upcycle?
This is probably the first and most important question. I would strongly advise to find some cheap second furniture online or in charity shops (I got both of mine on Facebook marketplace) to try your upcycling hand at. Once you’ve gained more skill and have become more confident – you can start tacking bigger and more precious items.
How much will it cost?
This ones is a bit tricky – it’ll depend if you have any tools or supplies at your disposal already and how much you are willing to spend. Luckily I had some of the hardware already that I borrowed from my husband. So I needed to get all the items needed for painting, filling, upholstery. Overall – both projects came to quite a lot of money. But going forwards – I already have several items that I can re-use again. For example – primer, paint, paintbrushes, wood filler, fabric, upholstery filler and few other things.
Ask for advice
Even though you want this to be your project and tackle it on your own – there is no harm in asking for advice. I kept bombarding my husband with tons of questions on tools and woodworking.
Research what you’re planning to do
If you are doing anything that you’ve never done – do your research. Look for blogs or videos to see different techniques, advice and tips how to achieve your end result.
It’s ok for it to look wonky
For my first upcycling project I decided to re-upholster a chair. Stripping it down to bare bones and re-painting it was easy. The re-upholstery – completely different story. The armrests look wonky. The pattern doesn’t line up. But I am still very proud of what I did and that overall – the chair turned out pretty good.
Be creative with materials you use
Don’t feel restricted in using set items for each project. Be creative, for example, I used a curtain for the upholstery on the chair. You can cross-use different materials from what they were originally planned for. Instead of using glass- use perspex.
Takeaways from upcycling a chair:
- allow more time for dismantling, completely underestimated the amount of time this will take
- choose plain colour fabric without any pattern – you won’t have to align anything and any mistakes won’t be shown as much
- spend the extra monies on padding – especially on arm rests
- tighten the fabric on the seat, so it doesn’t show loose when sitting down
- think through the armrest design and how to make it look nice once the upholstery is on
- keep the old fabric as a template for your new fabric
- make sure you allow extra fabric around the edges
Don’t drag it out
I would advise to work on the project continually, bit at a time, until you finish it. It could be over few days or a week or more. I left gaps between the periods I was working on my projects – which just made it harder to get in the groove of it.
Choose your colours and designs
As you are about to tackle something you’ve never done before – you want to make it fun. So when you are choosing colours or designs – choose something you like. As you will be more inclined and willing to work much harder on it. And more likely to actually finish the project.
Look for inspiration
If you are a bit stuck and short on inspiration – google. Look for upcycling projects, what have others done. Google & Pinterest will be your best friends on this. Don’t be scared to pinch an idea or two to implement in your project.
I really hope that one or two of my upcycling tips has helped you on your journey. What would you say to someone wanting to upcycle? Drop in the comments section down below.
My biggest inspiration for upcycling are The Sorry Girls (TSG YouTube Channel). They have done plenty of upcycling that you can draw inspiration from and also get some good upcycling tips.