5 tips to upcycle your furniture with paint

I Love to upcycle furniture, it’s such great way to give old, unwanted furniture a new lease of life. It’s also a great way to inject personality into your home by having one off pieces that you have transformed. So when I heard that it was National Upcyling week I wanted to share with you my favourite up cycling projects to date and talk you through the simple steps of how I upcycle with paint so you can dig out those paintbrushes and get to work yourself.

There are many different ways to upcycle your furniture including upholstering, stencilling, wallpapering, gold leafing plus lots more but my personal favourite is just a good old lick of paint. So here’s what you need to do:

1.Choose your piece of furniture. You may already have something in mind that you want to upcycle, or you may have seen a piece of furniture on Gumtree or eBay or in your local furniture warehouse. If you’re a magpie like me you will love spending time looking around antique shops, finding treasures in second hand shops and stumbling upon a furniture clearance sale. I always keep an open mind when I see something incase it can be given a new lease of life. The last piece of furniture that I upcylcled was my TV cabinet. I had an idea of what i wanted so I went in search and found the perfect piece on Gumtree. I bought it knowing that I was going to get to work on it with the paint brushes and once it was finished I absolutely loved it. You can head over to my previous blog post to see my tips on shopping for second hand furniture.

How to Upcycle

2. Prepare. Give your chosen piece of furniture a good clean and remove any hardware like knobs and handles. Then always sand all surfaces. There are a lot of tutorials that I’ve come across that say you don’t need to sand with certain primers but in my experience I would say sanding is a must. You’re just looking to rough it up a little so the primer has something to adhere to, you’re not trying to strip the surface so just use a fine grit  sand paper unless the surface has an existing varnish in which case you may need a medium grit. Wipe down the surface to remove any residue.

3. Prime. This is where the magic happens! Always use a good primer, it will pay off in the long run by spending a bit more money and time priming your furniture before painting as this will really help the paint to adhere and prevent chips to your finished masterpiece. As you’ve probably read in my previous posts, I swear by Zinsser primers, I even used this to prime my ceramic kitchen tiles before painting them. If you’re priming something with a ceramic, laminate or a varnished finish, use Zinsser B-I-N primer. Otherwise, use Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 primer. I personally just apply with a brush but you can also use a small foam roller if you prefer. Apply 2 thin coats and allow them to dry.

4. Paint. Once the primer is dry it’s time for the fun part! You can use any brand of paint in eggshell (for a matte finish), satinwood (for a semi matte finish) or gloss (for a glossy finish) or you can use a chalk paint like Annie Sloan, Autentico, rust-oleum etc… This will give you a more matte, chalky finish. Apply 2-3 thin coats and if necessary give a very light sand between coats to smooth out and paint drips or residue.

5. Protect. This is optional but if it is a piece of furniture that’s going to get lots of use I would definitely recommend applying a coat of clear varnish to seal the colour. You can use matt or glossy varnish depending on the kind of finish you want. If you are using chalk paint then you need to apply some wax to seal the paint.

So that’s it… as simple as that! It just takes a little bit of time and patience but could save you a lot of cash and you’ll end up with a beautiful, unique piece of furniture. Here are some pieces which I’ve upcycled and use in my home.


These Ercol chairs are my fave. Picked up in a house clearance store for £5 each and upcycled using Autentico paint in graphite.

Upcycling furniture Upcycling furniture

My gorgeous church pew which I use as dining room seating. I upcycled this using Farrow and Ball off black eggshell.

Photo 11-02-2016, 12 20 59

Here’s the upcycled church pew and Ercol chairs in my dining room.

Upcycling furniture Upcycling furniture

A wooden console which I picked up in a furniture clearance store. I used Dulux eggshell in Urban obsession.

Upcycling furniture Upcycling furniture

A wooden side table bought on Gumtree which I use as a bedside table. I painted this in Railings by Farrow and ball.

Upcycling furniture Upcycling furniture

These are some wardrobes that I did for a client project.

If you’d like to find out more about National Upcycling week then head over to Gumtree’s blog. They are sponsoring lots of different workshops around the country that you can get involved in and also make sure you tag  your upcycling projects with #NationalUpcyclingWeek so that they can see your handy work and be in with a chance of winning a weekend in Vienna.

Have you done any upcycling projects recently? I would love to hear about them. If you need any help taking your home to the next level then check out my low cost e-styling package. Also please subscribe to my blog by entering your details below to make sure you don’t miss out on future posts and giveaways.



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