Upcycling Your Tired Furniture

Claire Manton, founder of Claire’s CraftHouse, on how to take a tired chest of drawers and transform it into a striking statement piece

It was the stunning shape of this tired chest of drawers, not the distracting orange varnish, that caught the attention of Claire Manton, furniture artist and founder of Claire’s CraftHouse.
The quality piece was originally manufactured by Younger, a British furniture manufacturer known for contemporary style and design in the 50s through to the 70s. It looked tired and dated, but Claire was determined to give it a second chance.
She said: “I hate the thought of well-built, carefully crafted furniture going to landfill. And while from an aesthetic point of view they might have seen better days, there is still plenty of life left in these old pieces.
“With the interiors market looking to become more sustainable, upcycling is a great way to reuse pre-loved pieces, while unleashing your own creativity.”

Here Claire guides us through her transformation of this chest of drawers:

1. To start, I removed the hardware and gave the piece a thorough clean using an organic degreaser – the first step in any upcycling project – followed by a good scuff sand. Next, I wiped off any cleaner residue and sanding debris. I then filled the handle holes since the handles were being replaced with a different style. 

2. Taking inspiration from the classic style of this chest of drawers I chose Fusion Homestead Blue, with its grey and muted teal undertones, as the perfect base. However, I wanted to add depth and definition, to ensure the colour didn’t look flat and one dimensional, and this was achieved using a black glaze over the top, and a dark brushed steel blended into the painted top section. Because glaze sits in natural grooves, it highlights these natural features and gives an appealing multi-tonal effect. 

3. The finishing touches were achieved using some stunning pewter effect drop handles, and the piece was sealed to protect the glaze finish and provide durability against day to day wear and tear. 

Scuff sand

A scuff sand is enough to key a surface so that paint has something to bond to.

When scuff-sanding a varnished piece, there is no need to remove all of the varnish, in fact sometimes this can be counter-productive and cause bleed-through issues.

Using a medium grit sandpaper (approximately 120-180 grit), rub over the surface to de-gloss any shine. Always clean before scuff sanding to prevent surface grease from clogging up your sandpaper.

How to glaze

1. Ensure your painted base is sealed. This makes it easier to move the glaze around and achieve the effect you’re looking for. Mineral paints such as Fusion have a built-in sealer so are ideal for using with glaze.

2. Choose your glaze – I used a glaze medium that can be mixed with any paint colour. Pre-mixed glazes are also available and make the process even more simple.

3. Apply your glaze using a chip brush and then wipe off using a lint-free microfibre pad to create your preferred effect.

4. Glazes are slow-drying so allow your piece to sit overnight and then seal to protect your finish.

The finished item

Claire used:
Fusion TSP Organic Degreaser
Fusion Homestead Blue and ‘Brushed Steel’ Metallic
Black Glaze (Fusion Clear Glaze mixed with ‘Coal Black’)
Fusion Tough Coat sealer
Handle holes filled with Dixie Belle Mud
All products are available to buy from clairescrafthouse.co.uk

See also: Your Top Ten DIY Jobs for Winter

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