A first attempt at upcycling...

Upcycling is defined by the process of using old or waste materials & converting them into something new. 

This is something that interests me, not initially as a money-saving act (although of course, the more cash for shoes & holidays the better!) but for the sense of achievement felt in being able to stand back on it's completion and think 'I made that' safe in the knowledge that I'm the only one who owns an item that cannot be copied exact.

I'd wanted a stool to go with my dressing table for some time, but all the offerings I found were far too low. Nothing matched the perception of what I wanted in my head & the monotony of seeing the same old generic lines displayed in department stores began to grate.
An Area local to Victoria Park is Hackney Village. It's not really a village at all. Perhaps the council named it such to differentiate the area housing affluent middle class types, from the crime-rife council estates 5 minutes further down the road.Maybe the phrase was coined by Estate agents to lure homebuyers into the area. Where ever it came from, there is now a permeant banner over the street welcoming passers by to 'Hackney Village".

The village, much like the imagery the council wants to portray; boasts quaint shops & boutiques, independent bakers & organic butchers, restaurants in which well behaved children sit nicely for meals & a traditional toy shop that refuses to sell any other material than wood. 

The area regularly host's street parties & community events similar to those featured on country bumpkin Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage ...which is bizarre considering Hackney is one of the poorest boroughs in England. 

There is of course the obligatory dog friendly sub-post office too, but one of the shops which I have taken a liken to is a house clearance shop on Lauriston Road. The items on display are as pretentious as the postcode's residents, but thankfully the shop has kept it's roots when it comes to it's pricing structure. 

During my hunt for my stool I decided to have a wander into the shop and found the perfect chair for my needs. Only problem was that it was varnished in mahogany & housing a rather tired 60's cushion pad. 

Perhaps thats why a head amongst the clutter yelled that it was mine for a tenner. I left with the chair & set about my first upcyle...

Following nothing but an education from the odd home improvement TV show, I removed the seating pad & sanded down the chair removing the original varnish. It was bare & ready for it's first lick of brilliant white paint.

Waiting for that to dry, I removed the old cover using a staple remover I had borrowed from work. I re-padded the seat with sheets of thick cotton wool (this can be bought from haberdasheries, Hobby Craft or online) 

Looking for a think material to recover the pad was tricky as all the Rococo style designs I liked that matched my decor cost a fortune. As this was my first attempt at reupholstering I didn't want to spend out lots in case I failed miserably. Then I had an idea to use a redundant oversized cushion cover that was collecting dust in my cupboard. It fit perfectly. 

Using a clinch tacker holding the material tight to the original backing board I began to staple it in place, removing any access material along the way.

After a 2nd coat of paint to the chair, I lightly rubbed the surface using wire wool for my desired rustic shabby chic effect. 

It matches my dressing table a dream and the sense of accomplishment on completing my little project far outweighed the bore of ordering bulk manufactured items from a shop. I've since witnessed similarly reupholstered chairs fetch between £80-200 on eBay. 

Not bad considering my first of many upcycling attempts cost me just £15 ...and a little time & effort of course. 

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  1. Amazing Job! I am currently looking for dinning chairs and also witnessed how expensive people are selling used and tired chairs for a fortune on eBay.
    Excellent work.
    You have gave me inspiration thank you.

  2. amazing! love this just looking for a dressing table to make look lovely! love reading your blog and you have such a cute design!
    thankyou for following xxx

  3. This is a fab post xx I always wish I could do things like this xx Great blog xx I wanted to invite you to check out my fab 200 follower giveaway the winner will receive £50 Mac products of their choice and a fantastic OPI designer nail polish xx Maybe we could follow each other through twitter,GFC and bloglovin xx Hope to see you over at my blog xx

  4. I love the thought of buying something used and re-creating it into your own masterpiece! And the fact that it is not going into a landfill is a plus! Great job! I will have to try this. (I have a bit of an antique chair obssesion). I love your blog! I am now a follower:) Stop by my blog and say hello! I am a bit new.


  5. I'm probably a bit late to comment on your post, but I love what you have done with this chair ... You've just given me an idea for my own!

    Fab blog ...



  6. Great Job! i love the feeling of satisfaction that follows this kind of projects!
    Way to go!

  7. I Love this.
    I have a post on some antique furniture that I bought at auction mid December.
    If you ever get darker furniture, i.e oak, just sand the paint off with some re-finishing polish and stain to the colour of new furniture.
    Your tjen recycling your old upcycled furniture...
    Win Win

    That chair will probably last you years, and when its time to have babies put some Sleighs on it and cute rocking chair :)

    Check out my antique post at