Fashionable frugal furniture

Christmas is near, but never fear, oily rag readers have something to share.

Susan from Christchurch writes, “With Xmas approaching, we concentrate on gifts for all the children and grandchildren. The adults enjoy fine wine, nice food and when it is a get together at one person’s home we each bring a dish. Xmas is mainly for the children – enjoying the look on their faces.”

PB from Auckland says, “As well as crafting gifts throughout the year, my husband and I also do the op’ shops (he loves them) throughout the year. We start our Xmas shopping after the current Christmas, at the sales. We then have a ready supply of gifts for the whole year, for Christmas and birthdays etc.”

An oily ragger was chatting with us the other day about how they had refashioned their home interior without a great deal of cost by “upcycling” furniture. They say they have become experts at making old tired-looking furniture look like new – and a little funky.

There are lots of things you can do with old furniture. We noticed one enterprising individual who cut a well-used sideboard in half and added a new midsection of modern looking shelving. They left the old sections as is, which made for a very nice contrast that respected the history but added a future. Very funky and smart.

Stools are easy to start on – how about giving them a safari theme, painted like a Zebra!

Liven up a chair, couch or bed with a colourful throw – or add some cushions. Add a favourite saying or personalised message to pillow slips – like “His” and “Hers”!

We know of a frugal fanatic who decked out their workshop with shelves and bench space using hollow core interior doors that were discarded from a renovation project.

When painting a chest of drawers try painting each drawer a different shade of the same colour tone – full tone, half tone, quarter-tone, and so on.

When buying furniture to upcycle, make sure it is made of solid wood, not laminate. Solid wood is much more versatile and will last many reincarnations.

Chrome is back! Anything chrome with the retro look is fashionable and has good resale value.

Furniture recycling is a great way for those wanting to turn hobby furniture restoration into a money-making venture. It’s creative, and there are no limits to what’s possible.

Recover furniture rather than going for a full reupholster. Basically, that involves replacing the fabric only, not the springs or padding.

A reader writes, “I have been shopping around for a wardrobe and had approached a wardrobe company. They came up with a design that lacked imagination and looked more like a cupboard – at a cost of $4,000! We thought that was over the top but it gave us the idea of customising a used cupboard. The result was a very nice unit with all of the space we needed, and in a style that was in keeping with the rest of the house, that cost just a few hundred dollars all up.” That’s a great example of the savings that can be achieved with a little bit of creativity. We reckon a lot of money is wasted because of a lack of imagination.

Having a rustic or beach theme to your interior lends itself to recycled materials – nothing needs to be perfect.

For furniture, check out garage sales and op’ shops. With Xmas coming up it might be a nice way to create a unique gift.

To dress up shelving units, give the shelves a coat of white paint and paste wallpaper onto the backboard.

Scandinavian style furniture is the “in-thing” at the moment. That style combines white and wood finishes and is so easy to replicate with up-cycled furniture. For example, drawers can have a timber grain finish, with the rest of the unit painted white.

Refresh kitchen units by replacing the drawers and cupboard doors, but leaving the rest. Change the handles to something modern or funky.

A reader writes, “I made a very nice bookcase out of crates. I made them look like old fruit cases by using recycled timber and staining them various shades ranging from a whitewash through to teak. By using a modular size, it was easy to screw them together like a jigsaw. I have seen very similar units in high-end shops for many thousands of dollars. My ‘cost’ was about four hours of my time and the price of some stain!”