How to Find Pieces to Upcycle - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Nov 15, 2022

How to Find Pieces to Upcycle

Reduce, reuse, recycle! You might be surprised to learn that this rule can apply to more than our garbage, cans, and bottles. Upcycling is the method of reducing waste by reusing discarded objects or materials to create a completely new, unique, and personalized item. Whether you are outfitting your space with furniture for the first time or are just looking to freshen a room, there are many ways to utilize the art of upcycling. Not only is it better for the environment, but it can also be budget-friendly, and allows you to put a personal touch on pieces within your home, all while developing a creative skill. Continue reading to learn more about how to complete a successful upcycle.


The Hunt

Before you begin your upcycling journey, you’ll want to think about what problem it is that you’re trying to solve by updating a piece of furniture. Are you looking for increased storage or surface area? Maybe you’re in need of a statement piece to tie a room design together. No matter what problem you're trying to solve, you’ll want to be mindful when searching for your project piece. In doing so, you will be more likely to choose a piece that aligns with your overall goals. It can be easy to jump on the first piece of furniture you see and later find that it won’t be of much use to you.


From thrift shops, to curb sides, to pieces you might already own, you can find opportunities for upcycling almost anywhere. Garage sales are another really great place to look for project pieces, as they are often still in good condition, and are priced to sell.  Pro-tip: If you are purchasing second hand, you’ll want to ensure that the piece is  sturdy enough to withstand your project before spending money on it.


Think Ahead

Once you have your project piece, it’s time to start planning out your redesign. If you’re stuck for ideas, don’t be afraid to look for inspiration online or in magazines. It could be as simple as adding a coat of paint and hardware, or it could be more intricate.

Planning, and even sketching out your ideas on paper can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. This gives you a better idea not only of your end result, but also of the specific materials and tools you’ll need going forward.


Prepare Your Piece 

In order to achieve the best possible outcome, you’ll want to prep your pieces before diving in. Dressers, tables, bed frames, or any furniture that is made out of wood should be sanded down. Sanding off layers of grime, paint, and stain offers you a clean canvas to work with. Be sure to remove any old drawer knobs or hardware and give them a good cleaning. If you plan to paint the knobs or other hardware, you’ll want to sand them first as well. Once that’s completed, you can then apply a coat of paint primer or pre-stain wood conditioner. Primer will help cover imperfections and give the new coat of paint or stain a uniform surface to stick to.


If your project involves fabric, for example a chair, or couch, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough cleaning. Pro-tip: If the item cannot be easily thrown in the washer and dryer, you can use a carpet cleaner to get out any dirt or grime!


Be Bold!

Don’t be afraid to experiment! Although we suggest you test your design on a piece of scrap material or a section of the piece that can be easily covered, you should feel free to mix mediums, paint finishes, fabrics, and colors. Fixing patterns and textures is a great way to add interest to any piece. This can also help your space feel more established and put together.


Did you know that you can paint on fabric? You can use textile paint, which is usually made from an acrylic polymer, to spruce up couches, chairs, pillows, you name it! These paints are durable and can withstand routine use, washing, and even sunlight! If you are looking for more inspiration when it comes to interior decoration, check out the link below!