The Art of Upcycling

At Common Goods we are fortunate to receive a variety of unique furniture pieces from our generous donors. Some of these items can go directly to the sales floor. Other times, the pieces we receive need a little extra love and attention. At Common Goods, we call this process “upcycling“. It can be as simple as a new coat of paint, or it can be somewhat more complicated, requiring multiple steps which results in a complete transformation.

For those wanting to delve into upcycling, there is no doubt that the process can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never attempted such a project on your own before. Below I’ve included steps & pictures of a project that we completed last year, to hopefully help put your mind at ease, and to give you a little encouraging nudge to try DIY…yourself!

First, you will need to pick the piece you wish to change. Here is the before picture of a great rocking chair that was in great need of upcycling:Chair (before)

Next, you enter the “idea phase,” which can be the most difficult part at times. Fortunately, there are several websites that can help if you find yourself with “creativity block.” (Pinterest, anyone…?) If you are at a total dead-end, just go to your favorite search engine and type in what you are trying to accomplish (i.e., “How to reupholster a chair”). You will probably receive more than enough great ideas for your project!

Finally: it’s time to execute your plan (and probably do a little shopping)! Our idea was to revive this piece by painting and reupholstering this rocking chair. The materials & tools that were used for this project included primer, paint, sandpaper, a staple gun and staples, screwdriver, scissors, and fabric.

Here are the steps we took:

  1. Wash or wipe down the chair to remove any old dust and dirt.
  2. Remove the seat (so it can be recovered).
  3. Apply primer to make sure the paint adheres to the chair.
  4. Once the primer is dry; paint the chair the color of your choice.
  5. After the paint is dry; lightly sandpaper the chair along the edges to give it a vintage distressed look.
  6. Finally, put the new fabric over the old seat and staple it to the underside.

And here is the finished project:

Chair (after)

Quite the transformation, right? The best part is that a project of this size can easily be accomplished in a single weekend….and of course if DIY just isn’t you, the good news is that there is almost always a new project in the works here at Common Goods, so you can shop upcycled, too! Good luck, and happy upcycling!

Get Involved with Common Goods:

  • Shop (you can always find a great “upcycled” piece like the one above).
  • Volunteer (check out volunteer opportunities on our website).
  • Donate (check out our donation guidelines).