Upcycled furniture can give your home a lift

Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn, takes a look at how old and tired furniture is turned into something far more desirable...

This gorgeous side table is on sale at GB Antiques Centre for 125 pounds
This gorgeous side table is on sale at GB Antiques Centre for 125 pounds

It’s finally feeling as if spring has sprung, so to welcome the sun, this week I am going to write about painted furniture which is often sunny and bright too.

Over the last few months, here at GB Antiques Centre we’ve seen a surge in interest for good quality furniture, and ‘upcycled’ painted furniture is a great way of refreshing an older piece.

How much more interesting and sustainable, especially with new paints being kinder to the environment, too.

Painted furniture actually dates back centuries, but it’s only recently become a popular and fashionable way of restoring older furniture.

There are two methods: one is to paint using a block colour and the other is to “mis-paint”, giving a distressed finish. Most popular are ‘solid’ colours: off-whites and creams, as well as pastel blues, greens and pinks. Customers to the centre love part-painted pieces; for example table where just the legs and border are painted, keeping the pine top natural. Together with matching chairs, these ‘one-off’ sets go very quickly.

Sometimes known as Shabby Chic, painting or distressing was originally a way of taking cheap low-quality plywood furniture and turning it into something it wasn’t, disguising flaws or mismatches

Now it’s become an art form in itself and high-quality hand-decorated pieces sell for hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds. For buyers, though, this can create a problem. How do you know what you’re buying? What’s underneath all that paint?

You must take your time to look carefully before you buy - pull out the drawers, look underneath, check the quality, and look for markings if you want a better piece.

These days, fewer people can afford very high end pieces of furniture, and less new furniture is made, quite rightly, from endangered hardwoods. There’s still a market for mahogany and oak, but buying painted cupboards, dressers, and sideboards is a fantastic way of getting cheaper pieces that look bespoke.

Whilst ‘upcycling’ is also a fun way of giving your own furniture a new lease of life, some pieces are easily ruined with harsh treatment. So restore with care; or with some wonderful artisan furniture available, follow my tips to hunt down some great pieces to bring a little colour into your home this spring.

This gorgeous side table has been painted using Farrow and Ball paint .