Your bookshelf or coffee table is getting on your nerves.

You feel it doesn’t fit into your home’s interior design anymore or it’s looking shabby. Instead of getting rid of it, why not upcycle it?

What is furniture upcycling?

Furniture upcycling is when you take old furniture and transform it into something you can use, and which has a better appearance.

This not only breathes new life into old items in the home, but it prevents them from being thrown out and going to waste.

Best of all, furniture upcycling is a DIY project that anyone can do in their spare time.

Good Reasons Why You Should Upcycle Furniture

There are tons of reasons why it’s a good thing to upcycle furniture you no longer use and which is just taking up precious space in your home.

It Can Save You Money

Save Money

If you need to purchase an item for your home but you don’t have the funds for it, you might be able to transform a piece of furniture you already have.

This saves you money and prevents you from wasting the old furniture.

What’s even better is that you can use tools and other items for your upcycling project that you probably already have in your garage, further reducing your costs.

It’s Rewarding

There’s something really special about taking something old and ugly and making it look new and appealing again! This is why furniture upcycling is a fantastic hobby to start. When you see the beautiful results of your work, it’s sure to make you feel good.

It’s Easy for Anyone to Do

There are different levels of upcycling furniture projects that you can take on, so there’s something for everyone to do. Plus, with all the online tutorials that exist, you’ll surely be able to find ones that cater to your skill level.

It Customises Your Home

Upcycling your furniture is a great way to make the type of furniture and decor items that you want in your home yourself and which appeal to your style. You can also have totally unique items that no one else does.

It’s Good For the Environment

Upcycling furniture is beneficial to the environment in various ways.

These include:

  1. It reduces how many items are thrown away and end up in landfills. Annually in the UK, approximately 22 million pieces of furniture are thrown away and most of them get brought to landfills.
  2. It prevents the need for raw materials and precious resources, such as water, to be used to make new furniture.3. By reducing the need for global resources, furniture upcycling also decreases water, air, and greenhouse gas pollution.
    For example, furniture that’s made out of cheap materials can end up in landfills where they leak pollutants into the surrounding environment during their disintegration. It’s therefore better to do something useful with it.

Here’s How To Get Started With Furniture Upcycling

If you’re interested in trying to upcycle your furniture items, here are some tips to help you get started.


Be Prepared

When you have a furniture item you want to upcycle, you should be prepared by ensuring you have all the tools and other items you need, such as hammers or paint.

Then, start by wiping the item of furniture with a damp cloth to remove any cobwebs and dust.

Think About Its New Purpose

One of the most exciting things about furniture upcycling is that you can either use the item of furniture in the way it was used before, such as by using a chair as a chair, or you can find new, creative uses for it.

For example, a coffee table can become a door or a desk can become a bookshelf.

Consider Its Original Style

If the piece of furniture you want to revamp has an interesting character, such as that it’s vintage, you should consider this when upcycling it so that you maintain its vibrant personality and prevent it from looking odd.

If an item has been painted, try removing the paint so that you can see the wood underneath it. It might be beautiful in its original state.

Consider The Distressed Effect

A great place to start with your upcycling hobby is revamping old dressers, drawers, or cupboards. Simply sand them down and apply paint to them. It’s amazing what a new coat of paint can do!

For a distressed look, you can sand the furniture item again after you’ve painted it. This will give the items a unique look that’s especially great for pieces that are vintage or looked worn.

Do Small Projects First

You don’t have to undertake large furniture upcycling projects if you’re not sure how to go about them. Start small as the little touches you make to your current furniture pieces can go a long way.

For example, change the handles on a dresser to update it or wallpaper the shelves in a cabinet or bookshelf.

Finish Off With Varnish Or Wax

When you’ve completed your upcycling job, always protect the piece against weather and other damage by applying varnish or wax. This will increase its lifespan.

Or, Upholster Furniture Pieces

Another way in which you can give your furniture a new lease on life is to upholster them. If you have curtains you no longer like on your windows, why not use them to upholster a beautiful chair?

Here are some tips to help you reupholster furniture:

  • Get your hands on the right tools. You don’t need much to remove fabric – just make sure you have a staple remover and pliers. A high-quality staple gun will also be useful when upholstering furniture.
  • Upholstering a piece of furniture, such as a chair, will go something like this: Remove the piece of the furniture item you’re keen to upholster, such as the seat of the chair, then cut a piece of batting to the right size and shape and put it on top. Apply a piece of fabric over the batting. Make sure that the edges of the fabric are taut and staple them to the backside of the furniture piece.
  • You can salvage old batting. If it’s been in a dry, cool location and the fabric isn’t in a darker colour than the new fabric you’re using, then you can upholster over it to make your job even easier.
  • Inspect the piece before upholstering it. Check that the frame is solid. If it’s not, then you’ll have to figure out if you can fix it yourself or if you need someone else to repair it.
    You should also check out if there are any resources online, such as on YouTube, available for the type of project you intend on doing if it’s a bit difficult.
    You never know what problems you’ll encounter when you’re in the middle of your upholstering project so it helps to be prepared.

Stencil Your Furniture

Stenciling is another easy way to add some creativity to your furniture pieces. When stenciling furniture, you will have to choose a base paint colour for the furniture and then a contrasting colour for the stenciling.

Choose these wisely and test them on a scrap piece of wood before you stencil the furniture. When using a stencil, make sure you use a bit of tape to secure it to the furniture so that it’s easier to keep steady and in place.

Consider The Use Of Chalk Paints

These can be used when you want to paint over a veneer or dark stain because they don’t require priming beforehand. Just make sure you apply two or three layers of paint and finish with a layer of furniture wax or varnish.

Can You Upcycle Any Furniture?

Upcycled Armchair

Any type of furniture can be upcycled.

However, there are some tips to bear in mind depending on the type of furniture wood you’re dealing with.

Here are some examples.

Upcycling MDF furniture

MDF can start to look dull after a while, so it’s the perfect candidate for a bit of upcycling magic. If you want to revamp it with a bold new coat of paint, you’ll need to apply primer first and then apply paint.

But the trick is that if you’re painting plain MDF, you should sand down the wood after applying primer and before the paint goes on it.

Upcycling Veneer Furniture

It’s easy to upcycle veneer furniture. As long as the veneer is still looking good and doesn’t have any chipping, you can go ahead and sand, prime, and paint the furniture as normal. If the veneer has chipped a lot, your best bet is to replace it with a new slab of wood.

Upcycling Oak Furniture

If you want to paint oak furniture to give it a new lease on life, it’s essential to remove its wax with a bit of turpentine. Then apply a wood sealer before you go ahead and paint or stain it.

Upcycling Mahogany Furniture

Mahogany furniture is the perfect candidate for whitewashing, which is when you upcycle furniture while ensuring its grain is visible. Mahogany tends to have orange and red colours in it, so whitewashing is great for brightening this wood and making it look a bit more contemporary.

As can be seen above, with a few tricks and tips up your sleeve, you can easily transform a variety of wood furniture in the home!

Mistakes To Avoid When Upcycling Furniture

Mistakes to Avoid

To help you get started, it’s also useful to know some things you should avoid when upcycling your old furniture.

Mistake 1: You Don’t Prepare The Wood

It’s essential to clean, lightly sand, and wipe down your furniture before you go ahead and upcycle it. This will ensure that the furniture finish is in good condition and you don’t have to redo it.

Mistake 2: You Use Old Paint Brushes

Invest in high-quality paint brushes as this is a must. You need to use good paint brushes so that they won’t leave unsightly brush marks and will give you excellent coverage. They also won’t lose their hair, which increases their lifespan.

Mistake 3: You Take On Difficult Projects

You should always start small as you experiment with upcycling furniture and learn more about it. Taking on difficult or time-consuming DIY projects right off the bat can put you off or result in you wasting furniture items.

Mistake 4: You Spend Too Much Money

The whole point of furniture upcycling is that you should save money by reusing old pieces in the home. If you have to spend a lot of money on new fabric or new pieces of furniture to upcycle, it’s missing the point. Save that for later when you’ve gained upcycling skills.

What To Do With Things You Can’t Upcycle Yourself

What to Do

Maybe your upcycling attempt didn’t give you the results you wanted or upcycling the item of furniture you wanted to save is just too much work.

You still shouldn’t throw your furniture into the rubbish!

Here are some things you can do with it:

  • Give it to your friends. Ask your friends and loved ones if they’re interested in any of the furniture pieces you don’t want. You might have a creative loved one who’s skilled at upcycling and will want to do something amazing with it.
  • Donate it. If it’s still in working condition, the furniture can be sent to a local hospice.
  • Sell it. You might be able to make a profit on furniture you don’t want. Consider chatting to people in your community or on social media to find out if anyone’s interested in the good-as-new items you want to get rid of.
  • Contact your local recycling centre. It’s always useful to call your local recycling centre to find out if they will take your unwanted furniture. They might be able to do something with it.

Related Questions

What’s a good paint brush hack?

Make sure you clean your brushes after every use and store them in cling film or tin foil between painting coats as this preserves their moisture.

What sandpaper should you use on your furniture?

A medium, 80-grit sandpaper is good for general purposes and smoothing rough edges. However, if you’re working on a painted piece,  you should use a coarser 60 grit. For finishing touches, a super-fine 320-grit will be useful.


If you want a new DIY hobby or you just want to try to do something with furniture items in your home you no longer like, upcycling is the way to go.

In this article, we’ve provided you with tips on how to get started with furniture upcycling, as well as what you should know about it.


How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Scroll to Top