What Was Once Old, Is New Again

April 22, 2015 by Amy Needle

Vintage. A word we see over and over. But upcycled or resurfaced is a spin on vintage and has become a category of its own. Upcycling adds value by transforming or reinventing an otherwise-disposable item into something of higher quality. So not only do you get to create something exactly how you want it, the furniture gets a second chance at life and doesn’t end up in a landfill! It’s a win-win for you, your wallet and the environment.

My good friend Demetra has found great interest in this decor.  She is remodling the interior of her house and has seemed to find the classiest way to make ‘shabby chic’ as chic as possible on a affordable price.  Demetra started small with some distressed décor by finding pieces at yard sales and flea markets.  Her favorite piece was an old, paint-chipped ceiling tile that is now being hung as wall art.

Side TableAfter many hours spent on Pinterest and YouTube, she came up with the idea of resurfacing wood furniture for her new bedroom.  She states that she’s “always loved the bones of antique furniture but not the whole entire look of the piece.”  She found that “The craftsmanship of old furniture is unparalleled to anything built now.  The history or story that an old piece has is priceless and can live on for many more generations.”

She then looked to Craigslist for bigger pieces of furniture. She would search Craigslist for a style of all-wood furniture she liked; ranging in price from $50-$100.  When looking for paint supplies, her favorite material was the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Not only did this paint work best on wood, but was easiest to work with.  The paint runs at about $40 a quart, with specific brushes at $25 each, $25 for clear wax and $25 for dark wax. Better yet, she was able to make these supplies last multiple projects. 

I felt like she was flipping furniture every other day.  When I asked her how long a piece took she replied “it varies depending on the size, style, and look of furniture. Some basic pieces like a dresser, where I strip the top, sand it and refinish the top with a stain, and then paint the dresser, distress, then wax, can only take a day (if it’s a small to medium size dresser). A desk usually takes about half a day depending on if I decide to replace the hardware or reuse the orginal hardware. I did a full bedroom set (two large dressers and two nightstands) for myself and the pieces were very large with very detailed woodworking, and based on the style of refinishing I choose it took about a week to complete.”  


Before and After

So I wondered, how much was she really saving by upscaling furniture? After searching the Internet high and low; I found most good quality, all-wood furniture pieces range from $350-$700 for a basic (non-upcycled) piece.  After calculating the time and money of her upcycling furniture, for under $200 and a little elbow grease, not only did she save an average of $200-$500 on a piece of furniture, she got the exact look she wanted. 

“I do it because I really love to see the "before" and "after" transformation. It’s really amazing to look at a piece of furniture that really isn't very appealing and turn it into something that you can't stop starring at! I’m able to show off my creativity while upcycling furniture that would otherwise end up in the trash. I’m minimizing the impact on my wallet and the environment.”