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Top upcycling tips for beginners

Upcycled interior of a loft apartment

Whether it’s an attic jam-packed with ageing armchairs or neglected drawers tucked out of sight, one thing is for sure: furniture has a habit of hanging around.

Unlike small household items which can simply be tossed in the bin, old furniture must either find another purpose or compound the 670,000 annual tonnes of ‘bulky waste’ that is currently rotting away in landfill.

To eliminate this waste, many people are looking for eco-friendly alternatives. That’s where upcycling comes in. This sustainable ‘do it yourself’ method not only saves you the trouble of hiring a removal van, you also get to flex your creative muscles at the same time.

To see how to upcycle your best-loved items, read on.

1.  Hunt for inspiration

Often, the trickiest part of upcycling isn’t sourcing the parts or doing the work – it’s finding inspiration in the first place.

Luckily, the online world is packed to the gills with impressive DIY crafts and upcycling innovations. On social sharing platforms like Pinterest and Houzz you can find everything from toys redesigned as lamps to suitcases which double up as dog beds. You can even find pre-upcycled items from places like Etsy and eBay (although it’s always much more fun to do it yourself).

2.  Watch tutorials

Don’t worry if your DIY experience extends to screwing in a lightbulb; there are plenty of video tutorials to guide you on your way.

To learn even the most basic upcycling skills, head to YouTube. A simple search for ‘upcycling’ renders umpteen videos, with everything from how to paint a bedside cabinet to projects which require more expertise, like how to repurpose a baby changing table into a desk.

If you’re unsure how to get started, follow Buzzfeed’s Nifty YouTube channel for a ream of budget-friendly upcycling ideas. Similarly, popular upcycling YouTubers like Jami Ray Vintage are useful if you’re eager to learn new salvaging tips.

3.  Find a seller

The front of a charity shop

Struggling to repurpose your own belongings? Don’t worry – just channel your inner David Dickinson to find yourself a bargain.

Local markets, car boot sales and charity shops are replete with hand-me-downs which, after a little TLC, could turn out to be the finishing touch your space needs. Similarly, follow the upcycling efforts of Money for Nothing host, Sarah Moore, and simply ask around – you never know which treasures your loved ones could be ready to throw in the bin!

TOP TIP: Even if you’re only heading out to find a used picture frame, you never know which beauties you might chance upon. Keep a tape measure in your pocket, just in case a large item catches your eye.

4.  Match the original era

A seventies style living room using upcycled chairs

To do upcycling well, you need to have a knack for DIY. That’s step one. To do it great, however, a keen eye for detail and an acute interior flair is essential.

For instance, an upcycled rustic coffee table would look out of place in a post-modern Industrial-chic living room, as would a quirky armchair in a Scandi décor.

To ensure your upcycled items suit your space, pay attention to existing themes. If you are upcycling a 70s-era sofa, for example, then fabrics in burnt oranges and yellows would suit the era effortlessly.

Of course, if you’re looking for a professional finish and fast turnaround, our Plumbs reupholstery service helps to transform your old furniture from worn out to fashion-forward.

For a professional approach to upcycling, head over to the Plumbs website. We can reupholster your sofa, giving it a new lease of life in your living room. Take a look at our huge range of sofa fabrics here.




Sally is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbs. Prior to Plumbs, she ran the digital marketing strategy for Johnson’s Cleaners UK. Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is Homes Under the Hammer. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

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