Breathe new life into your decor with this DIY idea
Giving an old piece of furniture a new lease on life or a new piece of furniture a pop of personality can be as easy as a few simple brushstrokes.
Decorative painters Jemma Wlasichuk and Fanny Clarsen, from Shed Eleven, said a fresh coat of paint could totally change the feel of a room in a matter of hours.
They especially love how it can be used to upcycle pieces that have sentimental value or have been in the family for generations.
“It can help integrate these older pieces into a modern setting, so people can continue to love them,” Ms Wlasichuk said.
Last year, the talented sisters-in-law completed a three-month painters-in-residence program with Annie Sloan in which they demonstrated ways to use her popular range of Chalk Paint products to creatively transform furniture.
“Upcycling furniture is in our DNA,” Ms Clarsen said. “We have both had gypsy lives and moved around a lot, which meant we had to create our homes over several times. But we found through all the moves, it was our furniture that gave us that feeling of stability.”
Where to start
If you were keen on making over your furniture, begin with your home’s style and be guided by colours you had an emotional connection with, Ms Wlasichuk said.
“Then decide whether you want a standout piece — something that’s an artwork in itself — or whether you’d prefer it to blend with the rest of your interiors scheme,” she said.
As for what pieces to target, go for those with good bones that would be useful and suit the space, the pair recommended.
Beginners should ideally start with small, easy pieces featuring largely flat surfaces, such as bedside tables or small side tables.
And it’s a good idea to start your upcycling project with the piece turned upside down.
“This is really important for furniture that has legs,” Ms Clarsen said. “By turning these pieces upside down, you’ll have a better view of the underside while painting, so you won’t have any little surprises later, like you’ve missed the back of a leg.”
Beginners should steer away from items that have spindles, such as occasional chairs, because they can be quite challenging and tedious to paint.
Ms Clarsen said one of the biggest upcycling mistakes was overlooking the preparation stage in a flurry of enthusiasm.
Although some paints, such as Chalk Paint, can be used directly on almost any surface, preparation is still a vital step for a good finish. Ensure the piece is properly cleaned first with either sugar soap or methylated spirits and any holes are filled.
Upcyclers should also check the type of wood before painting because there are some that seep tannins.
“Ignore this and you might get up the next day to find your beautifully painted white side table is now pink because the tannins have seeped through,” Ms Clarsen said.
Use a shellac primer on these pieces to form a protective barrier before painting. You can also apply shellac over tannin-affected paint and then simply apply another coat of your chosen colour.
The duo said upcycling furniture with paint showed you didn’t have to spend a lot of money to create a home that looked and felt good.
“It also shows that a beautiful interior doesn’t have to come at an environmental cost,” Ms Wlasichuk said.
“By upcycling with paint, you’re not only preserving memories and continuing the journey of a piece, but also saving it from landfill.”
Here is more advice from Ms Wlasichuk and Ms Clarsen on upcycling furniture:
• Use long, smooth brushstrokes for a nice even finish and don’t overwork the paint by constantly going back and forth over an area.
• Keep out of direct sun when painting furniture or the paint will dry too quickly.
• Apply a thin layer of wax to seal the painted surface and buff with a lint-free cloth. This will produce a beautiful velvety feel and make the piece more durable and water resistant. You could also use coloured waxes to enhance woodwork details.
• Water down paint slightly for a thinner consistency if you’re looking for a smooth finish when using products such as Chalk Paint. This type of paint is typically thick and creamy to create a textured result.
• Explore different techniques and finishes for a dramatic result, such as layering and mixing colours, using combs to carve patterns into wet paint, using linocut prints, and using Japanese washi paper for decoupage.