Cato’s step-by-step guide to upcycling a piece of furniture

Posted by Cato Cooper on

I have been upcycling and recycling furniture for many years. It started out as a bit of a hobby that has now turned into my profession.

As well as running The Emporium Somerset, I also have my own painted furniture and home accessories studio and workshop on-site. You can often find me in my studio behind the till waxing or painting a new piece.

I have decided to share some of my secrets of upcycling furniture with you, so you can give it a go at home. Alternatively, if you’re not overly confident with going straight into a project, why not come along to one of my chalk painting workshops, where I can teach you all the basics?

Step 1 – sourcing your furniture

Maybe you already have a piece of furniture at home that you want to give a new lease of life to, but if not, you can source second hand furniture such as sideboards, units, drawers and coffee tables from lots of places, including car boot sales and flea markets and even charity and second-hand shops. Buy for as cheaply as possible and don’t be afraid to haggle. Sellers don’t mind this and won’t be offended if you do this.

With furniture try to avoid pieces that are rotten or eaten by wood worm as you never really know if you can get rid of it all.

Step 2 – preparing your furniture

For my upcycling projects, I use Autentico Chalk Paint, which offers an array of fantastic colours and there’s very little work involved. Give your piece of furniture a good clean with sugar soap and try not to remove other surfaces like varnish or paint, as this will work as a guard against bleed through and quickens the job.

If you need to, you can prime your piece of furniture and prepare it with masking tape to cover any spots you don’t want covered in paint.

Remove any handles, hinges or screws that can’t be taped over and if you’re not re-attaching them, keep them as they might come in handy for your next project.

Step 3 – painting your furniture

Autentico Chalk Paint is a water-based paint, which is free of solvents and other harmful additives and I always recommend using it when painting furniture. There are more than 155 colours available in the Vintage, Velvet and Eggshell ranges. One of my favourite colours to use for furniture is Graphite.

We are one of the biggest stockists of the range in the South West and we’re always on-hand to offer advice on selecting the colour that’s best for you. We also sell a fab range of paint brushes too.

Once you’ve chosen a colour you can get on with painting.

Finishing your piece afterwards is very important to avoid chipping or smudges. Use either our clear wax (or decorative coloured wax) or varnish, depending on durability. 

It’s important to be daring when it comes to restoring or upcycling furniture. The possibilities are endless. You could incorporate stencilling on a plain piece or use Autentico coloured waxes, which are great for emphasising detail in old pieces.

As well as painting, you can also replace any handles with modern new ones or more traditional looking brass/metal ones. We have a great range of ceramic handles available in the shop.

A restored piece doesn’t have to have a dramatic change. A light sanding or wax and polish can make a piece of furniture look as good as new again.

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