A beginners guide – how not to renovate furniture

A beginners guide - how not to renovate furniture

This project has unexpectedly taken months. It shouldn’t have, but it has. At the beginning of the year, my lovely housemate and best friend decided to spread her wings and buy her own house, this got me thinking about how little furniture I actually own. Basically nothing. Being relatively poor and a gluten for punishment I thought I’d attempt an upcycle job rather than risk shopping and punishing my credit card. I found this gem on preloved, a great site with pretty much everything you could ever want to find. It was advertised at £30 but I got a £4 discount for actually turning up to collect. How can people flake on cheap, well made furniture?

So it had clearly already been upcycled and seen better days, but that makes the best starting point. Liz had taken on an old set of drawers last year and made the sensible decision to use paint stripper. Wise choice. When I first started looking at this piece I noticed the paint was starting to flake off. Cue my laborious (some might say misguided) task of chipping all the paint off. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this but in this case the people who painted before didn’t sand down the existing varnish so the paint hadn’t stuck and it turned out to be the perfect monotonous activity after a really bad day at work. Very time consuming though which is why it has taken 4 months to repaint one set of drawers.

Choosing the new colour was very difficult for a person who hates making long term decisions. Browsing the B&Q website, I came across their new range of own brand paints GoodHome – affordable and nice looking colours (not an ad, honestly). I couldn’t find any reviews online, just a launch article in Ideal Home which I’m sceptical about believing but curious enough to try it. This flat matt furniture paint was £9 for 500ml.

I consulted with my dad (expert joiner) who recommended wiping the drawers down with methylated spirits after sanding, then prime, then paint, then fine sand again, then paint again. So I used the methylated spirits which I got ID’d for which was strange, can’t say I’ve ever had my age checked in a DIY shop before, he didn’t mention any kind of safety aspects so I went ahead with bare hands and a cloth then read the bottle. It’s highly flammable and shouldn’t come into contact with skin or clothing. It’s fair to say my hands felt absolutely awful after, luckily I didn’t get it on any of my clothes but the cloth I used is still hanging outside because I don’t quite know what to do with it. Moral of the story, use protection.

Drawers ready and Egbert standing watch. It might sound sad, but after so much work I was so proud of this sight, 7 perfectly smooth pieces ready for paint. This is where I decided to ignore my dad’s advice and not use a primer, mainly because the tin said I didn’t need to and partly because I just wanted them to be finished.

As usual with a project where I do the research and then don’t follow the advice, I did have some regrets after the first coat of not using a primer. The colour looked good but you could see the old pattern showing through. A primer probably would have helped with this being such a dark base. To be fair to the GoodHome paint, the tin does recommend two coats so it isn’t breaking any promises by not being a perfect finish in one.

A second coat worked magic. Aside from a few lingering brush strokes the finish is pretty perfect. Honestly, I’m proud of myself. I have also had the seal of approval from my dad, to be fair it was over WhatsApp and the lighting could have been to my advantage but I’m taking it anyway.

Luckily, they fit perfectly in my bedroom. I didn’t know where they were going to end up when I bought them so didn’t worry too much about measurements. A couple of handles are a tad wonky, but that’s fine for now and I’m keeping my eye out for some more interesting replacements. Now it’s time to fill these and find the next project to try out some more of the GoodHome range.

Stay tuned!

Much love!