Easy upcycling projects to spruce up your living room

Home Improvements 2019-4-1

Update your living room with some modern upcycling inspo

If your living room furniture is starting to look tired and outdated, then why not try giving it a new lease of life? We spoke to Nicky Cash who is an upcycling expert from Done up North - an independent upcycling company which turns old unloved furniture into fab modern statement pieces..

Add a splash of paint

A statement sideboard is a key trend that seems to have evolved into a classic must-have item for any home – looks great, but also extremely useful!  However, getting your hands on a vintage one for a reasonable price can be a bit of a challenge. Try hunting in charity shops or checking out the free ads online to see what you can find.

“I upcycled this old pretty ugly Formica sideboard by giving it a whole new look with Fusion Mineral Paint – it’s a furniture paint I use that is designed specially to be easy to create a contemporary smooth finish and it’s super tough too so with a bit of their primer as well I know it will last.  I picked dark Ash Grey – which is perfect for the dark interiors trend.” – Nicky Cash, Upcycling Expert, Done up North

Change it up

Add new fittings to your existing furniture to totally transform it. This old drab vintage cabinet was upcycled into a luxe drinks cabinet by swapping out the old wooden shelf for a glass one, adding an LED strip light and changing the handles for on-trend hexagons, which go perfectly with the wallpapered back. If it’s a particularly expensive paper that catches your eye, why not see if you can use wallpaper samples – some companies will let you buy them as a continuous piece rather than cut into little pieces.

Add some metal

One way to easily and effectively bring a more high-end feel to any of your interiors is to add some metal to the mix. You can easily upcycle your existing accessories, such as vases, frames, and other ornaments by giving them a lick of metallic paint to give them instant glam. 

“I actually buy items from charity shops that have a good shape and paint them! Choose from Gold, Copper, Rose Gold and Bronze. The latest trend is to mix your metallics so don’t worry too much about sticking to one specifically. I used both Gold paint and spray in Gold on this cabinet for the design, refinishing the handle, the whole interior and even the accessories on top!”

Go geo

Add some geometric design to make your existing furniture really come to life. This old bureau was a nice but safe piece originally.With some masking tape and paint it has been given a really striking contemporary look, inspired by the trend for palms and plants.

“To get the best results creating tape designs it’s worth paying a little bit extra for Frogtape – I would recommend using the Delicate surfaces one.  Or why not use this tape to create designs on your walls using emulsion paint – creating colour blocks or the latest thing is creating lots of bold stripes.”

Wall art

If you don’t fancy doing whole walls, why not create and customise your own gallery wall art?

“Here I’ve created a wooden wall hanging from an old piece of wood and updated a few of my frames and the little star by painting them gold. Some of the pieces of ‘art’ are simply postcards but by clustering a lot of little pictures together you can make much more of smaller items and create a really great effect for very little cost. You can easily pick up old pictures and frames in charity shops to upcycle too. The cushion covers just in shot were also painted. They were created from old curtain linings, but you’d never know!

Upcycling is a great way to create unique looks for your home which needn’t cost the earth. At Done up North I take old unlovable vintage furniture and homewares and create unique new statement pieces for people, often using geometric designs. I also run workshops to help people get started with doing up their own furniture upcycling projects and to spread the Upcycling bug!”

For more inspiration, why not visit one of the workshops held by Done Up North and create some bespoke and on-trend furniture for your home?


Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.


Live chat

best live chat