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Showing all 6 results
When it comes to buying shabby chic furniture, you’ve got three choices in order of expense: buy new, buy restored or buy second hand and restore it yourself. If you buy restored – for example, on eBay – you’ll usually pay less than brand new shabby chic furniture but of course, a bit more than second hand untreated furniture to account for the time and effort the seller has taken in upcycling the piece.
First up, there are a few items of furniture that you should never buy second hand – these include mattresses and baby furniture (it may have been recalled).
Don’t write off furniture such as dining or decorative chairs that have heavily worn upholstery if they are otherwise a good buy. In many cases you can replace the fabric yourself by removing the seat – here’s a great Youtube tutorial that shows you how.
If the fabric is very worn, make sure the item you’re buying is otherwise structurally sound.
Make sure the fabric you choose to replace the worn fabric is suitable for upholstery. Some fabrics are too thin for this purpose. There are some lovely fabrics in the shop that are perfect for the job!
Insect infestation is a major thing to watch for when you’re buying furniture to upcycle shabby chic style. Inspect the furniture you’re buying carefully for small holes. In most cases, the insects will be gone, but look for a small amount of fine sawdust under the furniture as this is a sure sign that they are still alive and at work. A good test is to place a black sheet of paper under the holes and give it a couple of days. If you spot holes and can’t do the test but really want to take a chance buying the item, keep it away from your other furniture when you bring it home as it may spread. If it turns out the furniture is infested, you can buy poison to treat the infestation or get an exterminator to fumigate the piece for you. Once you’re sure the furniture is free from insects, it’s worth filling the holes to stop new insects entering the wood.
Although solid wood is the prize when you’re shopping for old furniture to transform, veneer and laminate can give you just as good results and these pieces can be more hardwearing than real wood. The main thing to look for is that the veneer is still fixed firmly to the material underneath. Small parts coming away aren’t really a problem as they can be glued back in place but large amounts coming away is more of an issue.
Hardwood furniture is long lasting and sturdy, particularly maple or oak. Soft woods such as pine are less so – as they won’t stand up to pressure or weight in the long term.
Pine is however cheaper so it really depends whether you want to invest in a piece that will last you longer or stick within your budget!
Be aware that self-assembly furniture isn’t always a great buy. Inspect the parts where the furniture has been put together if you can, to see if anything is missing and to ensure the furniture is still sturdy.
Don’t let rust put you off buying metal bargains - you can get some brilliant shabby chic style results with metal furniture with minimal effort. Here’s a tutorial on how to restore a rusty bench using a wire brush, paint scraper, paintbrush, rust reformer and protective enamel. You could also use spray paint, as in this tutorial.
You need to ensure that the finish you use on your shabby chic furniture is appropriate for the room it’s going in. Anything going in the bathroom needs a waterproof finish that will stand up to being in a damp environment. Similarly, if you’re putting a unit in the kitchen, consider how the surface should be treated so that it won’t get stained or marked and will stay hygienic.
A lot of old furniture has surface wear and tear that might put you off buying the piece. Frequently the top of dressers and sideboards will be badly stained and you might wonder if sanding and restaining will even work. A sure fire way to transform these items is to apply a lovely piece of shabby chic fabric to the top, completely covering all the stains and imperfections. To do this, you’ll need to clean and lightly sand the top, apply mod podge all over, press on your fabric and then mod podge over the top. Mod podge is highly water resistant but not completely waterproof – I therefore recommend you apply clear, outdoor (or enamel) acrylic sealer over the top once everything is dry for a long lasting finish.
You could also paint and decoupage the top or cover it in pretty shabby chic wallpaper. In all cases you should seal over your decoration once it is complete and dry.
Upcycling old furniture rather than buying new furniture is environmentally friendly – but are the products that you’re using? Aim to use eco paints – these are paints and finishes that have low VOCs which means they release less low level toxic emissions into the air once they have been applied. Aside from being more friendly to the environment, they’re a lot nicer to apply too, with less fumes.
My favourite places to buy shabby chic style furniture are:
New, restored and second hand:
Betel stores - Betel have furniture stores in many towns. They are a charity that obtains the furniture from house clearances, restores it and sells it on to further their work. They help long term unemployed and homeless people, many with drug and alcohol addictions, to rebuild their lives. Their furniture is awesome!
Charity shops – they are a great place to pick up bargain furniture!
Don’t miss my guide on painting furniture shabby chic style!
Hello, I'm Jen and I'm the creator of The Shabby Chic Guru. I'm a 38 year old consultant and mummy of 4. I live in a Victorian house full of quirky furniture, large ornate mirrors and small children with sticky little fingers. I love all things shabby chic and vintage, cute babies, dinosaurs and wine.