Hello again! Following on from our first upcyling column, which was all about finding your inspiration, today we're talking about how to filter through the rubbish to find a project with endless potential. We've racked up quite a few tricks over the years, so we hope you find them helpful. Let's get started!
[Image Tante Monica]
CAN IT BE SAVED?
In the first instance, when revamping a piece of furniture you will need to make sure it is structurally sound. Unless you have the right skills (or a handy and willing friend or family member able to help), trying to resurrect a seriously damaged chair or chest of drawers can be a lot more hassle than it is worth.
[Image Mariposas Furniture]
It is a good idea to (carefully!) put a bit of weight on your chosen piece of furniture to make sure it is stable and any joints are still intact. Also, check around the piece for any visible signs of major damage. If you find small holes around 1mm in diameter peppered across the surface, this could be woodworm and you will need to treat the wood. This is just a case of painting on a liquid, but you will need an outside space and time to let the liquid do its thing. Equally for metal any rust will need to be sanded out, and the chances are you will need to apply a rust inhibitor before any other surface paint can be applied. You don’t want to spend time and money doing up a piece for it to disintegrate in front of your eyes a few months later!
[Image Andrew Boyd for Heart Home]
WHAT'S THE FINISH LIKE?
The existing finish on an item is important too. We love the look of natural wood for a lot of our work and so if we come across a chair that is heavily varnished or painted we generally leave it for someone else, as removing layers of paint can be time consuming. DIY stripping liquids can be used, but in our experience they cause a lot of mess and it’s hard to achieve a clean and natural wood look. If you are after a natural wood finish, it's better to look for that in the original piece. A light sand is often then all it takes to bring the piece to life. If you are aiming to create a painted finish for your piece, look out for major dents, dinks and drips – they can be ironed out but will take time. You will need to key (lightly sand) any vanished surfaces ready for the application of paint, and you can use primers and rust inhibitors for metal.
[Image Deja Ooh]
Many of the reclaimed products featured in our range are chosen for their timeless, classic appeal – the 1950’s kitchen stool was the Ikea staple of its time but was built to last. We know its construction inside out and love the Mortise and Tenon joints that hold it together. It is much easier to restore a piece of furniture in its original state rather than one that has already been tampered with, and when restoring a piece, try not to permanently fix joints with loads of glue and screws. The joints of our kitchen stool are a bit like the crumple zone of a car; they need to have the ability to give under the pressure of wear and tear that they will receive over the years, because if you fix the joints of a piece of furniture too rigidly it's likely to snap in a non-repairable place rather than at the joint, which is design to be easily repaired. Rather than screws, use a light wood glue and a clamp to hold your piece together until it dries. This will do the trick and enables it to be repaired again if needed – we will be looking at repair techniques soon so don’t despair!
[Image Carnet d’intérieur]
WHAT ABOUT FABRICS?
If you are looking for additional materials like papers and fabric, they are not hard to find. Comic books, maps, old wall papers and all kinds of fabrics are all materials we have incorporated into our private commissions, and Deja Ooh products at some point or another. It's all fairly common sense when looking for the right thing. Check over the fabric for little pulls, holes stains or marks, and try to select fabric that is fit for purpose. For example, if you are looking to cover an area that is going to be brushed past or sat on frequently, don’t go for a beautiful vintage silk – it won’t last and all your hard work will be wasted. It is best to let your imagination run wild within the parameter of practicality, after all you want your work of art to be here for years to come.
So now you've sussed out what to look for, in our next column we'll be telling you where to look – stay tuned!