My Up-Cycling Fantasy (That was a Bit of a Nightmare)

I visited my family this weekend back in Scotland. I hadn’t been back in a while and mum was on another “I’m going to declutter everything!” rampage. In fact, she was on such a declutter frenzy that she even decluttered me right out the house. I was to pack my bags with all the extra things I had left there and get them out of the place.

Lovely husband, has been….well…stressed, about how much stuff I have in our small one-bedroom flat. I believe the words he used when he came over to help me move flats in the first place were “boxes as far as the eye can see”….and my feelings were “…but clothes”.  So he wasn't pleased when he saw me take out the extra large suitcase to go up to Scotland for the weekend. Just because he had to evacuate his belongings from the built in wardrobe and live on the bedroom streets for a while until he was rehoused in a new smaller cupboard that he bought for himself, doesn’t mean the situation is out of control and we don’t have space for any more stuff.

Anyway, my sister, who basically loves me now that I a) don’t live with her anymore b) got married so that somehow makes me, even MORE, moved out than before, took my mum's decluttering rampage as an opportunity to redecorate my parent's spare room (a.k.a my room)!

Note tiny flower on bed to signify her everlasting love for me, and an abundant supply of beauty products
The room was 100% up-cycled. Boring oak furniture was repainted blue, old wooden handles swapped for trendy copper handles and a new combinations of bed sheets and pillows were put together.

Up-cycling can be a great way of saving money and not wasting good furniture. The best part is, you can customise your furniture to be exactly what you want it to be. With the rising trend in up-cycling, it’s easy to find cupboard handles and legs online or even in stores like H&M Home. Stencils are another great way to add design to furniture; especially given Moroccan designs have come into fashion. You can even pick up cheap furniture from second-hand stores to up-cycle. It takes a bit of thought and vision but as you can see, done well it looks fantastic.

So I decided to give it a shot! I mean, it worked out for my sister.

So, when I got back to London, I decided to give it a go with an old side cupboard. 

I repainted the side cupboard white and I bought copper feet and knobs from Amazon and voilȧ! A new side cupboard…..and then the paint started to peel off in places! I’d also managed to accidentally add some "character" to the side cupboard by leaving some paint drip marks – not a good look.

Unfortunately for me, my sideboard was already varnished which is why despite using paint for wood it was susceptible to peeling off (TAKE NOTE!). What I should have done was sand down the wood before painting it. I have touched it up for now…but, in the long run, it will probably need replacing after all!

My sister clearly had the up-cycling fantasy while I had the nightmare.

I had originally planned to do some Moroccan style stencilling on the side cupboard, but because I am putting a lot of pattern into my living room already with cushions and a rug, I felt it would be too much. But because I can do it myself, I can change my mind anytime!

Money save wise – a new white side cupboard of that size was roughly costing £500 when bought online. So all in all, I would say it was a win.

So, my first attempt might not have been a total success but I am sold on the idea and I am just laying in wait for the next chance (mwahahaha). 

Here are the things to watch out for if you want to give it a go. 

Up-cycling Dos and Don’ts


Start off Small – Try up-cycling a small item first before moving onto bigger projects.

Be Fearless –  Experiment by putting colours next to each other and seeing how they look. Don’t be scared of pattern. Use stencils to add design.

Start of Cheap! – Go to second-hand stores and pick up cheap furniture. You will have little to lose if it goes wrong!

Use Different Techniques – You can go for a smooth finish or you can go for a distressed effect using sandpaper. You can use a sponge to make a pattern appear aged and tape to give an edge a sharp or soft finish.

See the Potential – look beyond the furniture you have, the only thing that will remain the same after you have finished is the shape of the furniture, but you can change it to any colour, texture and style.

Plan your Look – before you start painting plan in your head what the finished product should look like. Buy any new handle, or stencils and look at the things you have together before doing anything permanent.


Don't Dive into Painting - Prepare your furniture to be transformed. Make sure you wipe down the surface, sand down any vanished furniture and use the right paint for the right surface.

Be Careful of Drip Marks – Paint can run and drip marks can dry onto your furniture. It is better to apply a few coats of paint rather than one thick layer.

Don’t Forget – it’s easy to forget things like paint remover, and floor coverings so remember to get these!

Use Tape – Make sure you tape the rims inside your cupboard so you get a clean finish inside too. 


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