It’s amazing what a little colour can do.
Upcycling is nothing new; in fact the make-do-and-mend mentality has been part of the national psyche since WWII. In a world of fast consumption, it can be satisfying to take time to bring something back from the brink or give it a whole new look.
How to upcycle furniture
Don’t be daunted by visions of complex upholstery, carpentry or fiddling with terrifying power tools. The easiest changes are often the simplest and paint is up there with the most powerfully transformative (yes, even if you choose a pale shade).
To start you’ll need:
Your item of furniture, ready for painting by cleaning it thoroughly first with soap and warm water. Some surfaces like aluminium may require gentle sanding with sandpaper or a small electric sander – don’t forget a mask to protect yourself from particles.
Laminate furniture (practically everything at IKEA) will require a coat or two of primer first to give the paint something to stick to but many brands like Valspar and Frenchic offer two-in-one paint and primers to cut down the process.
Mend chips and cracks with filler, or leave them to retain your furniture’s character.
Trying to paint a design? You could use masking tape, but it has a tendency to bleed. Invest in decorator’s tape which will give your edges a beautifully crisp finish.
Buy the right brushes for your furniture, and it will repay you in time and effort saved. Rollers can come in handy too, helping to distribute an even layer of colour.
Protect your home from unwanted splodges by covering everything carefully before you start. Better yet, paint outside if you have space and good weather on your side.
Above all, don’t be nervous – it’s only paint.
Itching to go? We’ve rounded up the best paint to breathe new life into your homeware.
Shop the edit below
Frenchic Mother Duck Original Artisan
Frenchic’s Instagram account is rammed with inspirational ideas and blink-twice transformations to get you started. Made for rookies and a dream for pros, the Original Artisan Range is self-priming, skipping a lengthy extra step if you’re planning to paint over dark furniture.
The Lazy Range is even better: self-priming and self-levelling so you’ll barely see brush marks on surfaces if you’re a bit heavy-handed.
Both ranges are safe to use on children’s toys but the Lazy is water resistant too, which makes it a fabulous choice for furniture you’ll put in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom.
Meanwhile the Chalk Wall Paint range is for more than just walls. It’s easy to use on surfaces like woodwork, ceramic wall tiles and wood or concrete floors too – talk about range.
Add figures to your original purchase by painting with Mother Duck Original Artisan, an elegant pale blue that comes in 750ml (£18.95) and 250ml (£9.99) sizes.
Buy now £18.95, Frenchic
Rust-Oleum Chalky Furniture Paint – Violet Macaroon – 125ml
Your revamping efforts are but a click away. Homebase stocks a selection of paint colours from trusted-by-the-trade brands like Craig & Rose and Rust-Oleum with finishes ranging from chalky matte, eggshell, satin and high-shine gloss.
Violet has been winning in the fashion stakes for a while now, so why not introduce the shade on a tired piece of furniture? Rust-Oleum’s Violet Macaroon can be applied on a range of surfaces, from wood (both naked and already painted) to stone, plaster, brick, metal and plastics. Simply stir before going in with your paintbrush and your item should be touch dry after an hour.
Need something bigger than 125ml? Get a 750ml tin of the paint here.
Buy now £6.45, Homebase
Vintro Paint Satin Furniture Paint – Light Stone
Fans of soothing, calming tones can make use of Vintro Paint’s Pebble shade, a warm cream that can be used to stain everything from walls to woodwork and of course, furniture. In fact, the water-based solution is safe enough to use on children’s toys and furniture, useful if you want to give their Little Tykes pedal car a showroom-worthy makeover. Once tried, it’s easy to keep your upcycled project in good nick as it’s washable, making cleaning a breeze too.
Buy now £29.99, Amazon
Rust-Oleum Metallic Furniture Paint – Gold – 125ml
It’s not all about covering your old furniture with paint. Distressing, contrary to the name, can be rather appealing. Rust-Oleum offers this metallic gold paint to use on furniture you want to give the appearance of a gilded edge. Like the other paints from the brands, it too comes in a choice of 125ml or 750ml, giving you the freedom to decide how much you’re really going to go for gold.
Buy now £6.45, Homebase
YesColours Electric collection
While most of the colours in this roundup err towards the ‘safer’ side of the spectrum, YesColours specialise in retina-searing shades that trigger joy with every glance, especially the Electric line-up.
Best used on vintage-looking pieces to give them a contemporary feel. Sample pots of 60ml are available for those brave enough to dip a toe in.
Buy now £4.50, YesColours
Vintro No Seal Chalk Paint – Dusky Pink
Whether it’s a scratched up desk or your favourite armchair whose legs have seen better days, bring your old furniture back to new with a fresh coat of paint. This dusky rose shade (official name Albert Bridge) offers fabulous coverage and won’t require wax or lacquer to finish it afterwards, saving you an extra step.
Buy now £27.99, Amazon
Rust-Oleum Furniture Spray Paint – Bramwell – 400ml
While painting with a brush or roller gives you ultimate control, if you’re planning on covering a large area or want a speckled effect, a can of spray paint could be the better option. Rust-Oleum offers paint ready for your project’s transformation in a variety of colours, including Bramwell, a warm moss green. It can be sprayed directly onto cleaned surfaces without the need for a primer coat first, and additional coats will increase its opacity.
Buy now £12.00, Homebase
Wilko Quick Dry Black Matt Chalkboard Paint 250ml
Kitchen in dire need of an upgrade? No need to gut it and start from scratch; just reach for a tin of Wilko’s quick dry black matt chalkboard paint for an easy, statement look that, once dry, will serve double duty as somewhere to jot down lists or calendar events too. Touch dry in half an hour, it’s also a great way to upgrade jars, plant pots and kitchen utensils. Welcome to the dark side.
Buy now £9.00, Wilko
Wickes Green Flat Matt Furniture Paint – 750ml
Wickes’ calming palette of own-brand paint is just the ticket if you’re hoping to make a subtle upgrade to your old furniture. We’re charmed not only by this green hue, but the formula as well: it’s self undercoating, quick drying, washable and durable too. Consider the checklist complete.
Buy now £12.00, Wickes
Lick Green 18 Eggshell
As well as bringing your walls to life, you can give last-chance furniture and homewares a new life with Lick paint, as long as its wood. Simply apply a thin coat of paint and let dry before sanding off bumpy sections in preparation of a second coat. Lick’s paints only come in 2.5L tins, so it’s a good purchase if you’re planning to refresh large pieces or want to paint sections of your home in the same colour.
Buy now £42.00, Lick
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