Upcycling furniture – preparing for a trade show
By Ramona Hirschi, keen diy-er
At Little Trove we love to recycle, reuse and upcycle things wherever we can. When faced with the task of preparing for our trade stand at Pulse (London 9 – 11 May 2014), we looked around for a cost-effective way to fit out our stand. Perhaps you’re looking for ideas? Here’s what we did:
First we looked at the measurements of our trade show stand and did a sketch of what sorts of furniture would fit in that space. We had a space of 3.5 x 2m (7 sqm). We looked at our products and how best to showcase each piece. I came up with a design scheme for the stand. I thought of a simple distressed white look to fit in with the white walls that the organisers were providing. I had to think of how we would cope getting all the products and furniture to the fair in one car and how the 2 of us at the stand would cope with fitting out the stand. There was no scope for flamboyant designs.
With that in mind, we did a checklist of the type of furniture we would need: couple of shelves, couple of hanging shelves, ladders (perhaps?) to hang bags, a table for the tableware and perhaps a dresser. Definitely some crates, just to create a more rustic look.
We then looked at our budget and set ourselves a limit of £500 to spend on the fit out – furniture, paint, hooks etc. I looked online for bargain buys and reclamation yards. Not much online but we found a reclamation yard called Les Oakes half an hour away from the office. Off we went on a Monday to look for junk!
At the rec. yard, we managed to buy 2 hanging shelves, ladders and crates. At another rec yard we found a garden table. Back at home, I found some old brown Ikea shelves in the garage that could work and a tin of white wood paint. Total spend: £110.
One sunny bank holiday weekend, loving d-i-y as much as I do, I decided to tackle the job of upcycling the junk furniture.
1. First, get your tools ready:
- sugarsoap, brush, gloves
- sandpaper or electric sander
- protective material for the ground (old curtains?)
2. Wash or wipe the surfaces of the furniture to be painted. In our case, the items were quite dirty. You must ensure a clean surface for painting. To wash the items, I used a sugar soap solution and a soft sponge. The crates were extremely dirty, so I hosed them down!
Then leave the items to dry.
3. For painted surfaces, you will need to sand down the surface to create a key that your new layer of paint can adhere to. Either sand down manually with sandpaper or use an electric sander. You will need to choose the sandpaper grade according to the surface. As our table was stained brown, we wanted to remove quite a lot of it, so we chose a rough grade sandpaper. Same went for the ladders – they were painted blue and green and had lots of rough edges that we needed to smoothen.
Once sanded down, wipe the surfaces to remove any debris. I used a dry cloth or dry paint brush to clean off the debris.
4. Once the surfaces are dry, for unpainted wood, you will need to apply a wood primer before the actual paint. Our crates were unpainted, so we added white primer to it. As I was aiming for a white distressed look, I literally slapped on the white primer very unevenly and didn’t worry about it too much! Left the crates to dry in the sun and didn’t bother with any further painting.
5. If you want a more consistent finish (like I wanted for the garden table), apply one coat of wood primer. Let it dry for about 4 -6 hours and then apply two coats of paint in your chosen colour. I used a “One-Coat” off white wood paint, to save time.
6. To create a distressed look on painted furniture, the easy and quick way is just to sand paper the surface rather unevenly!
Voila! The finished products:
Upside down crates