Hobby 2: Upcycling

I like to think I’m quite a creative individual with a basic level of DIY under my belt (highlights include hacking at a metal rail with a kitchen knife for a built in wardrobe), so reading through realms of upcycling blogs, I was optimistic. But it’s so simple, I thought, just add a slick of paint and pop it on Gumtree for a hefty profit. Oh how wrong I was!

The first step was to find a piece of furniture, so one Sunday, we moseyed over to a carboot sale where I would surely find a solid pine, spotless coffee table for a fiver. Not quite, but amongst the jigsaw puzzles, broken photo frames and plant stands (plants? who knew people sold shrubbery at car boots?! I sure didn’t), I found this:


The first alarm bell started ringing when I was reminded of my complete lack of negotiation skills. I just find it so awkward! The seller already haggled herself down from £15 to £10, Seb offered £8, and when mrs car boot seemed hesitant and started justifying her £10 bracket I hurriedly chipped in with, “10 IS FINE, WE’LL TAKE IT FOR 10”, with Seb glaring at me across the way. Apparently you have to be prepared to walk away, soz.

So excuse the negativity, but here’s all the stuff that went wrong when I got this lump of wood home..

1. There are just so many types of paint available on the market isn’t there?! I knew that chalk paint was good for furniture, Annie Sloan is pretty much the bees knees of the stuff as I understand it, but it’s pretty expensive. I did some light research and all the DIY-ers did recommend all different kinds – matte, gloss, water based, oil based, and confusingly, some of them are the same but are just called different names? I was pretty bamboozled in B&Q to be honest, so I’d suggest doing some INSANE research before shopping to ensure you get the exact finish you want. In this case, I got a glossy finish and for something that isn’t 10000% smooth (despite all the sanding), it just showed up every single teeny mark. Marks I could’t even see until I painted it!

2. Whilst my project started off exactly as I imagined it (sanding & cleaning outside in the sunshine – loving life), the majority of it was cooped up in our spare room, engulfed in fumes, with the door shut to stop Albie treading paint paw prints throughout the house. I thought it would be soothing & therapeutic, but I actually got pretty bored (and probably high), pretty quickly.

3. My choice of furniture could have been better for a first project – it had 4 compartments which obviously all had to be cleaned, sanded, primed & painted which to be honest, was a bit of a pain and in hindsight, I should have bought something squarer and easier!

4. Oil based paint gets everywhere, EVERYWHERE if you do not have white spirit. Apparently you just need cold water to clear brushes but this is not true. I can’t even explain how much it gets everywhere, anything you touched the brush with transferred to the cleaning object so it never actually cleaned, it just spread! Which is messy, especially if you have a black sink.  Ugh, it just pains me thinking about it again!

5. Paint DOES get underneath masking tape.  I still how no idea how.  So my vision came from Pintrest and is below:

Upcycling - the dream

The problem was that mine didn’t turn out QUITE so neat after seemingly not understanding how masking tape works, so this is what I’m stuck with:

Upcycling - the reality

In summary, I think the main flaws of the project come down to two aspects of my personality unfortunately . I am an inpatient perfectionist. I wanted the project to be perfect first time but didn’t have the patience to make it happen! I would like to try another upcycling project like this, but one that is a bit simpler.  I’d probably have more success with everything I’ve learnt from this disaster, but I’ll proceed with this in a few months, when the stench of fumes eventually leaves the house…




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