Photo of a person's hand painting wood white

Getting creative with reuse

24 Mar 22 4 minute read

We’re celebrating all things reuse to remind us all of the importance of swapping, sharing, donating and repairing, and we’re getting sentimental about it too!

Get involved by using #ReuseStuff to share your cherished items passed down through the generations or tell us your stories of repair and upcycling to make the most of what we already have.

Linda, Revolve Quality and Support Officer at Zero Waste Scotland, shares her zest for upcycling and restyling second-hand finds to give you some inspiration…

A passion for furniture refashion

As an Art Student, I was always interested in using what I could find and forage to incorporate into my work and creative projects. Over the years this, coupled with my love of interior design and passion for the environment, has pushed me to explore creative solutions for renovating and furnishing my own property completely from reused materials and then collaborate on quite a few projects for others.

I joined Zero Waste Scotland to help support communities to develop more sustainable and circular solutions and hope to use my experiences, skills, and creative solutions to encourage others to think more sustainably.

Photo of a living room furnished second-hand and upcycled

Going to great lengths

I was looking for a large coffee table and couldn’t quite find one big enough, but what I did find was a second-hand pine dining table that I decided to use instead.

First, I unscrewed the four legs and decided on the height I wanted my coffee table to be. Then, after carefully measuring and marking the size on each leg, cut down to size using a saw. The whole table was sanded to prepare the surface and painted with some leftover white emulsion.

After leaving to dry well overnight, I used a piece of rough sandpaper to create a bit of a distressed look then applied a few coats of clear wax to protect. I added some castors to the bottom of the legs to allow me to easily move the table.

Taking a seat

It’s so easy to transform a piece into many different looks. I picked up a set of six of these dining chairs for £22 from a house clearance advertised on Gumtree.

Two of the chairs I have sanded back, waxed, and recovered in a simple woven material – old curtains found in a charity shop – for a Scandi rustic feel. These are now being used as end chairs for my dining table (picture below before and after).

The other four chairs were upcycled for a project in a steampunk style house. Lightly sanded with a wooden applique glued to the back panel of each chair (these are readily available online and great for adding extra detail) and three coats of black chalk paint then a layer of wax – and voila!

Photo of before and after upcycled wooden dining chairs

Second-hand style

In my front lounge room every item you see is a second-hand find (except my TV on the wall, although the gilt frame around it is). Some required a little love and attention, others I completely upcycled.

If you are looking to give a room in your house a new lease of life, you don’t need to spend lots of money to create a pocket and planet-friendly space that is bespoke to you. Ask yourself…

  • What is it about the room that isn’t working for you?
  • How do you want to use the room?
  • Can you move things around and change the layout?
  • What key pieces do you have and what can you do to give them a new look?

Online research can give you some great inspiration and there are lots of ‘how to’ videos online.

If you are looking to give a room in your house a new lease of life, shopping second-hand can help create a pocket and planet-friendly space that is bespoke to you. #ReuseStuff

Photo of a pre-loved unit before and after

It’s all in the detail

The fire surround is made from old, reclaimed wood which a landscape designer friend had leftover from a garden project. We sanded and treated the old sleepers and came up with a simple design, we love it and the cost (free!).

The unit was salvaged from a skip. It was in a bit of a mess, but I loved the shape and thought it had some potential. To get it into shape the old laminate had to the stripped off before the wood could be sanded, primed, and painted.

I decided to have a go at a bit of a faux inlay look using stencils I cut out by hand, but you can easily buy readymade stencils to suit your project online. It’s a good idea to try your colours and pattern on a piece of card before you start on the furniture to ensure you like the result.

Applying a few topcoats of clear wax helps to protect it after painting.

Top tip!

Use a good stencilling brush and less is best when it comes to applying paint.