The process of modifying and improving unwanted or discarded objects, thereby offering it a new life is commonly known as Up-Cycling. While recycling is reusing the material from discarded objects which may require complex processes and machinery, upcycling simply requires creative imagination and some handy skills. The businesses which support the sale of cheap decor pieces and cheaper items of furniture are only making sure you keep spending! Keep spending less yes, but very often these cheap items do not hold their value, breaking and falling apart in a short time, so that money you have initially saved doesn't go far... you do the math. What's worse, cheap furniture is not made to last, and what a pity, that good looking item is not good enough to be repaired, upcycled or recycled and ends up out with the rubbish.
Creative people have been restoring and upcycling discarded objects for ever. I remember my father suddenly stopping the car and asking us kids for help to load a piece of furniture abandoned on the footpath into the back of our Holden station wagon, (how very Australian, right?). At first glance this was destined to the rubbish collection, but to my father it was a source of endless hours of fun and creative adventures. And thanks to his example I have learned to look beyond beaten and old looks. I instead asses the quality of the materials used and the design of the build... the rest is real fun: what can I do with it? See below some of the transformations I've made for The Living Room, on Channel TEN.
Obviously this process of exciting transformation is only possible when dealing with discarded pieces made with quality materials, with timber being the most reusable. Finding solid furniture on the side of the road is becoming harder these days as too many are the cheap and low quality pieces of furniture easily discarded. The good news however is that many people are also becoming aware of the difference between cheap and solid furniture, so the items of quality are not as commonly discarded these days. Selling unwanted furniture online has become a good way to make a few bucks out of what we don't need any longer. What is ugly to you is treasure to others.
Another point is that quality pieces of furniture will last the changing of time and styles, because good design survives trends. There are valid reasons why certain pieces of furniture and decor end up in antique stores. They tell of history, talk of memories and witness a style. These are made of quality materials which sport good design, so they are cherished and passed on from one generation to the next, proudly shown off in our homes.
Some of these images show very simple but very effective ways that I have transformed unwanted, unloved pieces of furniture, some perceived as ugly, and some items like those timber pallets, ageing out on the street, into new pieces that have a whole new life ahead of them. A coat of paint, some new handles, a little creativity and some time, It's honestly not that hard, trust me, if I can do it, so can you!
Buy quality furniture in the first place, it'll last a long time and will cope with many transformations
Use your creative powers and re-purpose what is not wanted any longer
Sell what you don't want to re-purpose or don't know how to
Offer to family and friends what you can't sell, offer on social media.
Take them as donation to charity stores like the Salvos or Vinnie's (be warned many times I have done this only to find something amazing when I get there, that I end up bringing home to make over).
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.