Upcycling is trendy, green and economical, but all too often, upcycled projects look – well, upcycled. We’ve all seen those oh-so-crafty projects that use old CDs to make artwork on the walls, or repurpose old sweaters into sofa cushions. While some of them look great in any apartment living room, the typical “saved from the trash” decorating project really does look like it was saved from the trash. It doesn’t have to be that way!
It is possible to turn trash into treasure that really looks like treasure. It takes attention to detail and a careful eye for professional finishing of your project. These tips will help you create beautiful furniture and design accents for your home from throwaways that you find in your own garage or at a local yard sale.
Start with quality materials. The best way to end up with a high quality upcycled accent is to start with a well-crafted piece that needs cleaning, repair and updating. Keep your eyes peeled for items at yard sales and on the side of the road that fit your design scheme, and that are basically sound.
Use the right tools. Good tools can make the difference between a frustrating, time-consuming project that looks slapped together and a fun, easy-to-finish new piece of furniture or decor for your home. The tools are dependent on the type of project, of course. A decent sewing machine is a must for sewing projects, for instance, and an electric drill with a full set of bits will make woodworking projects so much easier.
Start with a plan. Before you lay a finger on your project, decide exactly how to tackle it. Have a clear idea of what you want your finished piece to look like. Examine your starting piece to figure out what needs to be done to make it look the way you want it to look, then follow through on your plan step by step.
Clean and repair first. Any redesign or upgrade needs to start with a clean, sturdy base. Sand away any rust from metal pieces, and clean all surfaces of your piece. If joints are loose or rickety, tighten them up. Repair any parts that need repairing. Don’t let your eagerness to dig in overcome your good sense. This is a vital first step that will ensure a quality result.
Pay close attention to finish and detail work. The difference between a “craft project” and a striking piece of home decor is in the detail and finish work. Finish all seams on sewn work. Countersink screws on wood pieces. Clean up any corners and edges. Install the right hardware. Do whatever it takes to give your finished piece that finished look.
Creativity is great. Having an eye that can see a gorgeous planter in a paint-dripped old wooden ladder is a gift. When you couple that funky, creative side with meticulous crafting and attention to detail, you can truly lift a “home made” piece into the realm of “hand crafted design”.