A Material Difference – How to Get Started With Your First Furniture Project




Remodelling and upcycling furniture can be one of the single most rewarding activities for those with a bent towards the creative. Add to that the prospect to turn a substantial profit for the exercise and the potential for a sweet home business and there are some strong arguments to be made for learning the ropes.


With the surge of web shopping platforms, most supplies can be sourced online including specialised paints and upholstery fabrics. In fact, fabric suppliers now offer the ability to browse one-of-a-kind, stunning designer prints and fabrics online via vivid images, allowing you to select the ideal fabric for your project from the comfort of your laptop.


Start simple


As with any project, if you are too ambitious at the outset, it is easy to become discouraged so start small. The progression could look something like this:


Painting or distressing a natural timber stool – Avoid heavily lacquered pieces or those that require sanding of intricate or ornamental detail. These can be time consuming and labour intensive. Leave this for a time when you have mastered the basics. Check out this wonderful guide how to paint wood furniture


Re-covering and reupholstering – Advance to re-covering a simple fabric footstool. This is the ideal experiment piece as a successful result can often be achieved without the necessity of sewing.


Look for a piece where the existing fabric is intact and use this as a template in the replacement process.


Recovering remedies


Once you’ve found some confidence with your recovering ventures, you can begin to get a little adventurous.


Experiment with tufting (buttoning), pleating and piping. These will require a basic sewing machine or for the brave hand stitching, using specialty upholstery tools.


Vintage and antique chaise lounges are wonderfully rewarding project pieces requiring more advanced skill levels but higher returns for effort. Online tutorials are in plentiful supply and a variety of them can be accessed here.


Sourcing sites


Most big cities will have a wealth of resources to buy quality, affordable second hand furniture. Factor in the costs involved in transportation, buyers premiums and GST when buying at auction.


Some examples of ideal sites to purchase furniture for literally a few dollars, include:


  • Local     online marketplaces like Gumtree    


  • Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell sites


  • Ebay


  • Live and online auctions. If you live in Melbourne, try these affordable outlets:










  • School fetes


  • Garage sales


Paint, paper and pizzaz


With the recent interest in shabby chic and french provincial furniture, chalk paint combined with distressed effects and wallpaper panelling, is in vogue.


The difference between chalk paint and other paints found at your local hardware store is that aside from its rustic finish, chalk paint can be used for creating an aged appearance, and can be distressed easily. It rarely requires labour intensive prepping or priming so it makes artistic effects simple to achieve.


Incorporating stunning wallpaper or fabric into your makeover can raise it to a new level of sophisticated style. Ideas include the highlighting front panels of drawers, side panels or dresser tops – creating ‘one off’ pieces which will add both drama and colour to any room.


Reviving timber


Furniture waxes are an easier, less messy substitute for staining timber furniture. Solid waxes can provide a durable finish from two or three coats; enhancing the natural timber finish. Simply apply it with a soft, lint-free piece of fabric, working in small circles to provide complete coverage.


Whether you aim to decorate your home or turn your hand at making a thriving home business, upcycling can prove economical and satisfying. By starting small you can quickly advance your talents to create bespoke pieces which will draw gasps of admiration and a lifetime of pleasure.



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