Upcycle is the New Recycle

Out with the old and in with the new; it’s not an uncommon phrase to hear in the early months of 2015. But instead of replacing your old furniture, why not turn what you have into something new? It’s a great time of year to redecorate and have a clear out of old, tired furniture. But by taking a bit of inspiration from the increasingly popular practise of upcycling, you don’t need to buy a whole new set of furniture to revamp your house.

Unlike recycling, upcycling focuses on improving the items you already have; there are so many simple (and not so simple) ways to turn old furniture into something new and bespoke. What’s more, it’s great for the environment, preventing perfectly usable furniture from being sent to landfill or reprocessed at a recycling plant.  So don an old t-shirt, grab a paintbrush and a staple gun and get upcycling with these simple ideas:

  1. Got an old wooden bookcase that’s seen better days? Paint the outside white and use spare wallpaper or different coloured paints to bring a splash of colour to the inside of the shelves.
  2. You don’t need to be an expert in upholstery to re-style a dining chair; paint the frame a new colour and simply cover the old cushion in a piece of patterned fabric of your choice. All you need is a staple gun and voila! Your very own ‘bespoke dining set’ to show off.
  3. Got an old pallet lying around? You wouldn’t believe the possibilities keen upcyclers can find for these goldmines of endless upcycling potential. For the simplest option, make a coffee table with a sheet of glass or wood on top of a painted pallet (see www.1001pallets.com for more ideas).
  4. Turn old drawers into plant beds; you can even paint them to brighten up your garden. It’s also a great excuse to get gardening in time for spring.
  5. For something a little bit different, take the cushion off an old dining chair and weave old leather belts to create a vintage-looking seat (see www.upcyclethat.com/wooden-belt-chair/284/).
  6. There are endless possibilities for ways to revamp that old chest of drawers; why not take each of the drawers out and repaint them different colours to brighten up a dull room.
  7. Children get through furniture almost as quickly as they outgrow clothes; remove one side of an old wooden crib and paint it bright, fun colours for an arts and crafts table, or remove the legs from an old chair and attach rope to make a swing. Just make sure you have a steady tree to tie it to!

General styling tips:

Stencilling: you can create something beautiful and unique with some simple stencils and paint. It’s a great way to re-designs a chest of drawers, wardrobes and wooden headboards.

Painting:  people are paying extortionate amounts of money for brand new ‘distressed-look’ furniture, but why spend a fortune on something that looks old when you have something old to begin with? Paint your chosen item with a complimentary undercoat and a topcoat of your choosing, then wax and roughly sand the surface once the paint is dry.

Wallpaper: this simple idea doesn’t have to cost you any money at all. Use old wallpaper you have lying around, or samples to cover small areas or to make a patchwork, to cover any flat surfaces. Bookshelves, wardrobes, cabinets… grab some paste and get papering!

Old Maps: using maps to cover old wooden furniture is a great way to create a unique piece that will stand out in any room – simply grab some old maps, tea-stained if you prefer an antique effect, and paste them on to the surface you want to cover.

New handles: this unbelievably simple method makes a huge difference to cupboards, drawers and cabinets. Add bright or interesting new knobs onto old furniture for a bespoke effect.

There are so many ways to restyle your old furniture, and with a wealth of ideas from keen bloggers around the internet, it’s time to go green and get creative.

If you have furniture which is in a perfectly good condition, sometimes it seems a shame to change it, so why not donate it to charity?  With our Furniture Donation Network, all you have to do is head over to www.furnituredonationnetwork.com and tell us where you are and we will come and collect your high-quality furniture and donate it to a deserving charitable cause.

Of course, sometimes you just want to get rid of that huge old wardrobe, or a sofa that’s seen better days. Our Bulky Waste collection service is an ideal, fuss-free way of getting rid of old furniture, as well as cumbersome household items such as mattresses and washing machines. Let us know where you are and what you want collecting and we will provide you with a great quote, simple as that.