March 4, 2016

When it comes to decorating your pad for minimal dolla, upcycling furniture is the way to go. Instead of bulk buying flat pack furniture, keep an eye out for discarded pieces around town, ransack charity shops and head over to Gumtree for bargain finds. Every item will be unique and your own creative masterpiece. We caught up with furniture upcycler, Yinka Ilora to find out his top 10 tips to get you feeling inspired.

1. Always be on the lookout for second hand furniture. The best places to look for a bargain are secondhand shops, charity shops, car boot sales and of course, Gumtree. Remember to keep an eye out when you’re out and about because you’d be surprised by the amount of furniture you’ll see stacked on the sides of the road around London. If you see a chair on the street and you like it, don’t be shy, just take it!

2. Before anything, check the condition of the furniture. You might want to check to see if there are any damages to the furniture or if some of the joints need repairing or some screws may need to be tightened.

3. Always sand down the furniture using wire wool or sandpaper before painting, to give it a smooth surface. Check the type of wood the furniture has, so that way you can decide if you want to use a fine, medium or course sandpaper. Sometimes using coarse sandpaper can damage the furniture which results in scratches on the furniture. I would always suggest starting off with a fine or medium sandpaper, then you can decide if you would like to upgrade to a coarse one, if you have not reached your desired finish.

4. Try to give your furniture a story. I often use Nigerian parables to tell stories in my work. Here’s an example for you to work with when upcycling your own piece: “One should not throw stones at a Bird that wants to fly away”.

5. Remember that your furniture does not have to be functional. Be creative and tell your story the way you want to. Remember no-one can tell your story better than yourself.

6. Dismantle the furniture into sections and reassemble, giving it another function. You will be surprised with what you can come up with. Make sure you have the basic wood working tools with you.

7. Use bright colours when painting your furniture so it brings out the beauty of the chair. If you’re feeling really creative you can create some hand painted patterns on the furniture, but make sure you draw your artwork on Illustrator or Photoshop so it’s easy for you to draw on the furniture when you want to paint it.

8.The best paints to use are Valspar paints which can be purchased from B&Q. They have a range of colours, so you’re really spoilt for choice. I always purchase the Valspar paints that already have primer mixed inside already, so it saves you having to prime and then paint again.

9. If your particular piece of furniture needs upholstery, I would recommend going to Vlisco, Goldhawk Road or Dalston to get some bold, colourful Dutch Wax textiles.

10. When upholstering your furniture, make sure you spray your fabric with fire retardant spray, which you can purchase online. Most fabrics should be fire retardant, but some wax prints are not so it’s essential that you purchase the spray; we dont want any accidents!