Just yesterday, I was walking my kids to school and there was a chest of drawers next to the bins. It wasn’t perfect but with a bit of work it could have been upcycled to something perfectly usable.  (Un)fortunately, when I came back to rescue it, someone had done it already!! Lucky thing.

It doesn’t have to be something from the bins. We all have some furniture at home that doesn’t really fit the bill:

  • Brown wood … a good quality, solid wood, chest of drawers that doesn’t go with anything.
  • Inherited table & chairs … yes they are old, but they are not antiques or mid-century furniture. Old is now even something from the 80’s!
  • Unmatched bed side tables, bed headboard and wardrobe … IKEA anyone?
  • Tasteless, colourless, plain functional items … that bathroom cabinet which hides all your beauty products, spare nappies or bath toys.

Why should you throw them away?

Here my top 5 tips to transform those pieces:

  1. Look at it from a different perspective. Sand it, clean it, remove the old paint, take the old fabric. You may find a hidden treasure or inspiration to create something more beautiful.
  2. Create a mood board & a theme with your ideal pieces and colours.
  3. If it is using space but doesn’t serve a purpose, make it functional, maybe you can add an upholstered seat. If it is functional but ugly, consider painting, changing the fabrics or replacing the door handles.
  4. If it is broken, fix it first. Use only good quality materials. This goes from the original piece to the tools, paint, foams, fabrics, etc. Do not upcycle something to make it worse than it was before.
  5. Learn some skills … you need some basic skills to prepare, paint, distress, upholster and finish a piece. You can check out You Tube videos, follow DIY blogs, or if you are in London you can come to my classes 🙂 but please do it properly!

Upcycled chair

Before & After of a chair upcycled at The Old School Club

This is a chair I upcycled for a demonstration at the Ideal Home Show in March. As you can see in the “before” picture, it really is an ugly chair!

What did I do?

  • Removed the drop in seat, the old foam and fabric. The old foam was flat and had no life (i.e. my bottom was seating in the wooden board). This was also a “given” chair, so since I didn’t know where it had been before I preferred changing the foam. NOTE: if you have a chair which has been traditionally upholstered, please do check if it is worth restoring! These are good pieces and should be kept as they are.
  • Reupholstered the drop in seat:
    • New foam (I used a high density, 2″ foam)
    • Polyester wadding
    • Fire Retardant calico
    • New fabric
    • Tools: Staple gun, staples, tack remover, hammer, wooden mallet.
    • You need to fix the calico first, properly, pulling with all your heart and stapling at the bottom of the board. You also need to master the pleats.
    • Then you add the fabric.
  • Cleaned, prepared and painted the chair with Autentico Chalk Paint (Belgian Stone).

And here is me, doing the demo of the Upcycled chair at the Ideal Home Show:

Upcycling a chair Ideal Home Show

Upcycling a chair


Do you have an old piece of furniture at home that could do with a bit of a make over? Be creative. Check out my Upcycling, Upholstery and Furniture Painting classes in London or other posts in this blog for a bit of inspiration.

If you need some advice about your current projects, add a comment below. I will be happy to have a look and help.


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