Furniture hacking

“A clever person commits no minor blunders”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Furniture hacking is the art of reconstituing old pieces of furniture into something new. It’s part of the wider upcycling movement and an excellent example of bricolage. A skilled furniture hacker will tell you that it’s entirely possible to furnish your house almost free. The costs come in buying fasteners (bolts, screws, nails) and in transportation. This assumes you have some skill or are willing to learn and thus able to avoid labour costs.

We’ve (as in the royal we, actually they were made by Ms Simple) already upcycled two bedside tables and a coffee table. As we move through our house decorating we are starting to think about what furniture we want to make. This follows from our work on the outside of our house to improve the overall value of our property (maybe 🙂 ).

Furniture hacking is something we are both into. We’re always on the hunt for interesting and industrial nothings to turn into shelving. I’m building a child’s park bench out of scrap. We’re considering doing something arty with old bike wheels in our hallway and we have a few other old disused pieces of a machine that we unearthed in our garden. Neither of us know what it was. The debate about what it will be is almost equal to the debate about what it once was.

Our bathroom is probably one of the better rooms in our house, but I’m trying to convince Ms Simple to let me do something like #29 on this upcycling site. Upcycling taken literally!

The thing about upcycling is that you are only limited by your creativity. Skill is not a limitation because in simply trying you will improve your manual abilities. There are also some really good places to find cheap and free furniture hacking starter kits (by which I mean dilapidated furniture to reinvigorate).

Places to find starter kits include:

  • Your rubbish dump especially if it has a recycling swap shop.
  • Freecycle.org
  • Friends, family and neighbours. You’d be surprised what people throw away because it is ‘so last season’ and if you let them know you might be interested they will supply you with their hasbeens.
  • Second-hand and opportunity shops.
  • Schools, churches or business sales.
  • Sports clubs, council or community organisations.
  • Timber recyclers.
  • Businesss liquidations.
  • Storage unit disposals.
  • Skips (one of the best places).
  • Businesses that you supply or frequent. For example our village coffee shop gave us 3 used coffee sacks because we asked for them and they were going to be dumped anyway.

For many people furniture hacking lets them use the thousands of dollars worth of tools stashed in their shed. For others it can be a bit intimidating to figure out which end off the handdrill to hold.

If you are unsure of your abilities don’t let that stop you from giving it a go.

1. It doesn’t matter if you f**k it up. Your materials are free and it was someone else’s rubbish. You will learn a lot in failure. Your next piece will benefit.

2. It is easier than you think. You might discover a talent that you can turn into extra cash selling your furniture to people without the skill or time to do it themselves.

3. You get to be as creative as you like. Imagine living in a house with furniture that is an expression of yourself rather than of some boring corporate bog standard designer that had their ideas built in Taiwan by slave labour.

So we reckon just give it a go. What you can make out of a pallet? Could that container become an interesting lampshade? Why not make that old mower blade into a glass top table?

Upcycling is seriously good fun and slightly addictive!

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