4 Tips for Upcycling Second-Hand Furniture

One of the most exciting things about buying a new build home is being able to put your own stamp on it from the very beginning – but what about our furniture? If you’re striving to make your home truly unique or you simply want to get a little bit creative, you may want to consider upcycling!


What is upcycling?

Upcycling, or re-purposing, reuses discarded or tired materials to give them a new lease of life and prevents them ending up in landfill. Upcycled items of furniture and decor typically has a rustic, country home feel due to the nature of the vintage-style furniture used, but old items can equally be transformed into modern and sophisticated statement pieces with the right tools and vision.



The most important thing to keep in mind when starting to upcycle is your vision. Keep in mind your existing furniture, pick up on a common colour scheme and use this to create a mood board which will keep you on track. Taking stock of your existing decor will also help you identify the style you want to achieve from your upcycling project.

Tip: If you’re new to upcycling, keep in mind the colour you want your new item to be. For example, if you’d like a white photo frame or mirror, try to avoid buying vintage materials with dark wood which may be difficult to cover.


Goldleaf mirror trim Gold trim handles

Image source: Goldleaf trim mirror (left) Musings on Momentum; Brass drawer handles (right) One O


So, you have your vision nailed – but where to find these inspirational pieces? Luckily, it’s never been easier to purchase second hand! If you’re strapped for time, online sites such as Gumtree, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Pre-Loved are perfect, but if you don’t mind doing a bit of leg work then take a look around local charity shops, such as British Heart Foundation and Emmaus, or car boot sales.

If you’re a first-time buyer, it may be worth asking around to see if any relatives or friends are thinking of discarding old pieces of furniture for you to repurpose, especially if they’re renovating!

What to use

There are lots of ways to get creative when re-purposing old furniture! The most commonly used is paint – on larger pieces of furniture, you need to make sure you’ve fully primed your material to ensure the paint sticks and looks flawless. If you’re striving for a modern yet classic look for your upcycled furniture, matte paint really elevates the tone of your furniture and offers a sophisticated edge, particularly with bronze or gold trimmings.

If you want to get a little more adventurous with your design, try using stencils and masking tape to create flawless geometric patterns (like this trendy white and gold side-table) or use trendy contact paper to ensure an expensive look at a fraction of the price – we love this upcycled marble-look console table!


Marble top console Geometric gold and white coffee table

Image source: Marble-top console (left) Syl and Sam; Gold and white geometric side table (right) Dwell Beautiful

Start Small

If you’re new to upcycling, it’s probably wise to try your hand at re-vamping small items such as photo frames and mirrors before taking on mammoth projects such as a chest of drawers or an old cabinet.

We love these simple yet striking Anthropologie-inspired DIY mirrors, and this re-styled monochrome photo frame is so simple you could let the kids join in!

If you’re already happy with the style of your furniture but feel you just need to add a little extra flair, stay minimalist! Replace old drawer knobs with chic modern handles or try reupholstering a desk chair for your swanky new home office.


Have you upcycled any second-hand furniture or given your existing pieces a new lease of life? Show us your quirky creations over on Instagram!