How to Upcycle Furniture and Give it a New Colourful Life

Fast furniture… Oh, you mean the new fast fashion? Gross.

Gone are the days when we’d purchase a piece of furniture that, over the years, would beautifully transform into a treasured family heirloom. Being able to watch a piece of furniture transcend time and hold onto so many precious memories is a sentiment that’s been lost over the years… and desperately needs to be revived. 


This was a time when we used to place value on our furniture because it actually HAD value. High-value materials were used, and a lot of workmanship went into it. 

Nowadays, you can head to almost any store, purchase a flat-pack for cheap and head on home to assemble it yourself. These items are designed to last a limited amount of time, so that you’re back in the store in the next year or two looking for a replacement. (*Cough cough* Ikea)

And while this vicious cycle is great for the bulk furniture producers’ pockets, it’s exceptionally terrible for our environment.

So instead of contributing to furniture that actively destroys our planet, people and animals, why not push for sustainability and join me as I guide you on how to upcycle furniture – easily! Trust me when I say you’ll love these DIY furniture projects as much as I do. I guarantee it!

What to do with unwanted furniture 

As much as I love repurposing furniture, I don’t necessarily want to repurpose all of my furniture. This is not a problem, as there are many other ways for you to rid yourself of unwanted furniture in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.

Sell, sell, sell

If you have some preloved items that no longer serve you but are still in pretty decent condition, there’s nothing wrong with putting them up for sale. Use places like Facebook Marketplace or host a garage sale in your neighbourhood. 

Just keep in mind that selling items doesn’t mean freeing up space for buying an abundance of more furniture. 

Check out your local recycling centres

There are some incredible recycling centres that are doing amazing work where they actively help individuals recycle their furniture items. Try to get in contact with these centres and see if they either have any furniture pick-up protocols around you or furniture removal programmes where they’ll pick up your old furniture and either repurpose or recycle it.

Find local repurposing companies 

There are some wonderful companies that specialise in getting rid of your furniture sustainably. Alternatively, they’ll repurpose it and sell it themselves. 

If you’re in Ireland, you can check out ReFunk Upcycling. They are doing amazing work!

Donate your furniture to a charity or local thrift store

Let your preloved furniture make someone else just as happy! Visit your local charity or thrift shops to see what your options are. Not only are you guaranteeing a happier planet but a happier home for someone else too. 

Repurpose your furniture into something new and unique

This is where the real fun begins and the part of the blog where I am most excited. 

This is your moment to truly delve into your creativity and unique artistic flair and essentially discover how to upcycle furniture into something incredible. 

How to upcycle furniture sustainably

There are so many ways to give your old furniture a new life. Here are some of my favourites:

Repurpose and old dresser into a bathroom vanity

All you have to do is remove the drawers and add a sink. 

Keep in mind that you might need to make some modifications to the dresser, like adding holes for the plumbing or sink, but this isn’t too difficult to do. It’s a fun DIY project and a great way to spruce up your bathroom.

Table… Or dog bed?

Creatively use the end of an old table and turn it into a dog bed. All you need to do is remove the legs of the table, add some cushions, and maybe add a new coat of paint. Voilà!

Your dog will love having their own little bed, and it will save you from having to buy a new one. 

Turn your chest of drawers into a bar

All you have to do here is remove the drawers, add in some aesthetic shelves, and stain the wood to give it new life. You can then use the new shelves to store your glasses or bottles of alcohol. 

Reupholster a piece of furniture using your own dyed fabric

I suggest using a heavy-weight cotton canvas, linen or even wool for this upcycling project. 

Just remember to stick to natural fibres if you want to dye them sustainably! Dye your fabric using your selected material and technique. We’ve got some great articles to help you out here if you need a little guidance. Better yet, you can learn how to dye your fabrics in my textile dyeing course

Once your fabric is dyed, rinsed and dried, you can upholster your furniture, either yourself or get an expert to do it with the fabric you’ve dyed.

Here’s how to do it yourself:

Revamp wooden furniture using your own wood stain

Give your wooden chairs and tables a gloriously new appeal and aesthetic using wood stains made from natural products. 

Better yet, there is no need to go to the hardware store to get a natural wood stain – you can just make it yourself. You can easily make your own wood stain with rusty bits or with ferrous sulphate. This YouTube video seamlessly outlines the entire process for you.

Here’s an outline of how to create your own wood stain:

  • Soak rusty nails or scrap pieces of iron in vinegar for 1 week to 1 year. 
  • Occasionally open and stir, making sure to keep topping up with vinegar if it evaporates.
  • Optional: add a half cup of used coffee grinds or tea bags to your jar of rusty vinegar, and soak for an additional day. This will help make the colour darker by adding extra tannins.
  • Use an old paintbrush to apply the stain.
  • Allow to dry, and add a coat of linseed oil (or another type of organic oil or wax) to create a smooth, shiny, and warm finish.

Creating a greener tomorrow … one furniture piece at a time

By repurposing your possessions, whether it’s your furniture or your clothing items, you’re taking the first step to helping build a better and brighter future for everyone. 

If you’re interested in learning more about upcycling or sustainable ways to create clothing, check out my blog. Let’s create a community together where we not only adore slow, sustainable items but actively help create them too!