Adventures into Upcycling

Last week I was offered two cabinets, one long and one more like a bedside table, from family. Although I didn’t think our little wee house had the room for them I did think I could perhaps do something interesting with them. They were solid pieces of furniture and apparently worth a decent amount if I had chosen to sell them on. However, they also offered me a chance to release a little pent up creativity and maybe even provide some storage for my parent’s guest room.

Sometimes ideas just come to me, other time I need a bit of time to research  ideas and feel out a path that might work. This time was a little of both. The room they are going in is currently a little battered but is light, and has new funky green, leafy patterns on the bed and curtains. There is also a mixture of woods including some quite striking dark wooden pieces. It was a difficult starting place but the rich dark caramel of the donated pieces seemed like something that could work in there if we could modernise them and add some colour.

I decided on a mixture of deep emerald green dabbed with a lighter almost-turquoise green, like you might find in a rainforest under leaves, with gold neo-geometric pattern and details. A bold choice, but one I hoped would work with the patterns of the room. In a tempting moment in a craft shop whilst getting a few supplies I also picked up an elephant and pineapple (cardboard, not real and life-sized). These would make the whole thing a little eclectic and bohemian, adding a couple of much brighter colours to the mix.

My darling daughter helping me start the painting.

An issue I’ve had with all sorts of crafty things in the past is the craving to rush it. For the most part I succeeded in keeping this at bay but I still had a minor issue when I forgot to sand one area, and the promised-acrylic gold pen which would have given neat ruled lines failed to work. Even so, things turned out quite well and I am relatively proud of the result.

The main unit was a basic paint job although the detailing around the front was a pain to do well (lots of lying on pillows and holding my hand steady with my other hand). Miraculously I didn’t end up spilling a ton over my face due to weird angles. The smaller unit was a little bit of a larger job but simple enough. By taking off the cupboard door I hoped to add a pop of colour and allow a space for easy storage of stuff someone might have whilst lying in bed (a laptop, books, work, etc) that is less s


afe on the top, and still really easy to access. Another option would be having a neat blanket pile, or even a basket, tucked inside the cavity for necessary speedy cuddles in the winter months.

The result was definitely eclectic and alongside the (eventual) pink elephant and gold pineapple make an interesting feature in the room in progress, and at least for the minute provide much needed storage. What I love about this is how much I connected to the creative thought process in this project. Because I wanted to ideally use what I have, fill a need in a specific room, and do something interesting, I had to really customise to the requirements. With these two pieces a certain style materialised, but with other possible products they will likely be very different.

I have already got a number of upcycling options and ideas to go with them. A bureau that was gifted to us might replace our less attractive, older one, and that could become a colourful, children’s work station either for my eldest, or for sale. A beautifully shaped dining table and chairs have sparked a bright and bold design based on two amazing women: Frida Kahlo and Gillian Gamble, and might even include brand newly designed fabrics by the latter.

I also have my own pieces of furniture, that have been sitting waiting for a burst of inspiration for a really long time. I have always found it harder designing for myself than for others so I will have to think on it a little more, but sometime in the future you may see the results of a couple of toy boxes, a child’s wardrobe and drawers, two bedside tables, and a host of strange materials. I think I even have an old vintage tennis racket somewhere…

In other words: watch this space!

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