I have always loved all things DIY and more often than not I’ve tried to find ways to fix, repurpose and redesign my old and forgotten belongings rather than offloading them into the landfill or spending money on something new and shiny.
I have many fun memories of crafting at the kitchen table in my childhood home. Some of my favourites are painting ceramics with my mom and designing my own t-shirts (and inadvertently the kitchen floor) with glittery puffy paint! Creativity followed me throughout the years as I undertook more DIY projects than can be counted, some were successful, and others were what you might call a 'Pinterest fail'!
My journey into upcycling revved up when my husband and I moved from the United States to England. Moving to a new country meant starting from scratch and furnishing our home was not only going to be expensive, it was going to be a massive undertaking. It was then that I realised just how grey, beige and cookie-cutter it is in the furniture world. Sadly, this left our house quite bare for a while because I wasn’t going to spend money on furniture that I didn’t love and that didn’t reflect who we were.
Looking back it seems so obvious that I would gravitate to old furniture having always had a love affair with vintage style and a bit of a whimsical personality, but it wasn't until my mother-in-law nudged me to go look at a piece of furniture in one of the local charity shops (she had a hunch I would like it). There it was in all its vintage glory, an old sideboard circa 1920, boasting the beautiful curves of cabriole legs with gorgeous scallop shell and scroll carvings. With complimenting details from the top shaped-up back stand with shell motif all the way down to the decorative apron. It had ornate hardware and spacious cupboards lockable with the original key. It was strong and sturdy, made of solid wood with dovetail joints, and it was an absolute steal. It had to be mine.
Alright, remember how I mentioned that we had just moved 4,000 miles to England? That meant we were unemployed, on a budget and without a car. In order to bring this beauty home without springing for the delivery at an extra fee, my husband (turned superhero) wheeled this puppy home on a dolly! Yes, you read that right, on an upright utility dolly. He met me at the shop with the dolly, loaded it up on its side and we made the 1.0 mile trek home hitting quite possibly every bump along the way.
What happened next was the fun part – the makeover! I took off the legs and the doors, pulled out the drawers, removed all the hardware and got to work. I gave the original hardware a good clean and a bit of spray paint so that it would be sparkling gold. I quickly hand-sanded the peeling glossy finish and old bubbling stain. Then, I carefully went in and out of every hand-carved detail with my trusty Dremel - all the while dreaming up what colour paint to use. I knew I wanted something bright and fun, I tossed around some pinks, but ultimately settled on teal and gold. After a thorough cleaning I taped off the inside edges and the elements that were going to be gold and began painting. I started with the teal and to ensure I minimised brush strokes I painted long brush strokes in one direction, using only a little bit of paint on a damp paintbrush. All the little details were finished with a tiny artist’s brush and lush gold paint. I wanted the piece to have an old Hollywood glam feeling, so I topped it with few layers of protective glossy topcoat. Then, I assembled it all back together using new screws and a little wood glue to reinforce the legs…and voila!
Be still my heart!
My sideboard makeover might not be to everyone’s taste, but that’s okay, it’s not for everyone it’s for us. It's the focal point of our bedroom, it’s functional and cheerful which is all we could ask for. We have a reliable piece of solid wood furniture that has already stood the test of time. This sideboard has been my inspiration, leading me further into the world of upcycling and refinishing vintage furniture. Not only was I hooked on the process (it was creative, calming and in a sense therapeutic), it reinforced to me that it is okay to have your own taste. It is okay to create your own unique surroundings that bring you joy. You don't have to keep up with everyone else, and your only decor options aren't straight out of the trendy magazines and big brand stores. As I continue to re-imagine and revive tired old pieces of furniture, I hope to inspire more people to surround themselves with things that make them happy and live in colourful homes.