Answering Your Questions

What’s the worst mistake I’ve ever made? How many pets do I have? What should you look for when looking for things to upcycle? 

Those are a few of the questions I got when I asked on Facebook if anyone had any questions.

Not everyone wants to watch videos. So, if you want to see if your question got answered, carry on reading.

How And When Did You Get Started in Upcycling? 

It was about 8 years ago. It was the first time in my adult life that I’d lived anywhere for any length of time. From age 18 to 33, I lived in about 10 different places. It’s always much more satisfying when you can see the fruits of your labour in your own home. 

The first piece I ever painted was a mirror that had a peacock stencil on it. When I came to part with it many years later it was used for someone’s wedding. Which I thought was special.

Another of the first pieces that I made was simply assembling apple crates to create some shelves. They went down very well with my cats, who were then kittens.

Why Did You Start a YouTube Channel? 

Essentially it was to create a different style of tutorial to accompany this blog. I already made short Instagram videos of my tutorials. It was a natural step to move to YouTube just to be able to make them longer. Then they could be more in-depth and more helpful.

What Has Been The Easiest Project That You’ve Done?

I’m taking this to mean that there were no surprises, no mistakes, and no challenges. Something that was just straightforward. 

The one that springs to mind is a bookshelf I made for a nursery with some beautiful decoupage paper. It’s a simple square unit, so easy to paint. Especially when you remove the back like I did.

diy nursery bookshelves with woodland design

There were no problems with the decoupage, no issues with the paint, the top coat, or the sanding. It was all simple.  

It’s very satisfying when that’s the case because it rarely ever is.

What Piece Are You Most Proud Of?

This one is still in my home and it’s this lavender and bees chair. This was absolutely a labour of love. After sanding back to raw wood, applying the furniture transfer was comparatively a breeze. 

image shows wooden chair on rug.

But it took so many hours to get to that point. I love the chair, it’s still in my house. It’s one that I’m proud of because it took so long, and I finally accomplished it, and also it’s just really pretty.

People quite often ask what to do with a single chair. And if you can make a really pretty statement chair then it doesn’t matter if it’s just one. They just need to stand by themselves and be individuals in some way.

What Should You Look For When You Are Looking For Something to Upcycle?

This does depend on whether or not it’s something for your own home or something to sell.

If it’s something for your own home then, of course, look for the things you like and the things that you need. That is a good starting point.

If you’re looking to sell you need to think about different things. You need to think about what is likely to sell in the area that you’re in. Also, what is generally trendy at the moment, so people are looking for them.

If you want to know what has sold in your area, you can look on Facebook Marketplace under what has sold. Then you’ll see what things are consistently moving quite quickly.

Regardless of the specific piece of furniture that you’re looking for, you want to think about the condition and the price as well. 

If the condition is anything less than average, probably skip it. The work that is going to be required to get up to a decent state might be more effort than the money that you’re going to get back for it.

In addition, the price. If you’re already buying it at a price that is roughly what you might sell it for then don’t do it. You need to make a reasonable profit because of the time and supplies that you’re putting into it.

How Many Pets Do You Have?

I’m pretty sure I was asked this question because my pets appear in quite a few of my videos. I have three pets. I have two cats and they are sisters and they’re 8 years old. 

Firstly, Pastel is my gingery cat. She likes to cause mischief in quite a lot of my videos. That is mostly because she just likes to be around me. If I’m sat down for a second she takes that as an opportunity to sit on me.

Finished decoupaged apple crate with cat

Secondly, Pixel is a black and white cat. She is essentially the boss of the house. For someone who doesn’t pay any of the bills, she certainly has a lot to say about how it should be run.

First makeover of ikea drawers

Lastly is my dog Puzzle. You might not have seen him as much. Because if I were to paint around him, his tail would end up in lots of different colours. 

puzzle the dog in front of black cabinet.

He tends to pop up when I’m trying to take final photos of pieces of furniture. As he likes to remind me to pay him attention.  

Where Do You Look For Pieces to Upcycle?

This is one of my most popular blog posts. Essentially I have three favourite places to look. 

First of all, charity shops or thrift shops. These are getting a bit more expensive now. You can still get some unique and special pieces of furniture in them. You just might have to pay a little bit more than you used to.

Secondly, there’s Facebook Marketplace. There’s so much on offer. What is so great about it is that you can search far and wide. If you’re looking for a specific piece, then depending on your search area, there’s a good chance you will eventually find it.

Lastly, another great treasure trove can be Freecycle. Which is a free platform for passing on things you no longer need. This does depend on how active your local area is as to how good it is. 

I’ve both found and given away really nice things on Freecycle. And it’s a helpful thing for your community as well.

What Has Been the Biggest Mistake That I’ve Made?

There are two big ones. One was human error or lack of common sense. The other one was an accident. So, both mistakes in different ways.

One of my favourite pieces that I’ve ever made was a floral chest of drawers. It was one of my first videos as well. And the mistake I made on it was reattaching a handle in the wrong place. 

image shows handle in the middle of a drawer,

Despite knowing that there were two handles on each set of drawers, I decided to put one handle right in the middle. I did this when focussing on being able to pull out the drawer to attach a furniture transfer.

Then when I realised that a handle does not go in the middle, I had to remove it, fill the gaps, and redo the finish.

Lesson learned on that one. Slow down a little bit and think about what you’re doing before you do it. 

Secondly, a mistake I made when moving a chest of drawers with a mirror. 

And crash the mirror landed on the floor! 

broken mirror on floor.

Which had a snowball effect. Once the mirror was gone, the frame then had to come off. Which left holes in the top of the unit so I couldn’t leave it natural wood. 

So, there was a chain of events that led to having to paint the chest of drawers when I wasn’t initially intending to. It no longer had a mirror and it looked completely different. 

I love the result. But I had to adapt to get that result. 

When Do You Top Coat a Piece?

This has a very simple answer. But chalk paint fans might disagree with me. 

I always seal my pieces of furniture. Especially if I’m selling them. But really it’s just always.

I can’t bear the idea of all the hours of work that go into sanding, potentially priming, and painting, to just leaving it vulnerable. 

Even with the super-duper paints that say they’ve got top coat built into them. For me, it’s just not worth the risk of undoing all my hard work and seeing it slowly chip away.

How Do You Choose What Colour To Paint a Piece of Furniture? 

I have an in-depth blog post about this so I can summarise a few of the key points. 

Firstly, if you love a colour and want to paint something that colour, go for it. That is a valid reason to paint something bright pink or whatever you think an outrageous colour might be.

If you want some inspiration then things you can think about are:

What is trendy at the moment? This can be trendy to look nice in your own home or trendy because you want to sell it. And therefore other people are looking for similar things.

image shows footstool with bee fabric.

Also, think about any accent pieces that you might put on the furniture. Such as a piece of decoupage paper, a furniture transfer, or is it going against a particular coloured wall. 

Do you want to incorporate a bit of that colour so that it pairs nicely? Or contrast with it to make it stand out?

Think about the overall picture of the furniture you’re creating or the setting where it’s going. That might lead you to a particular colour.

How Is Your Front Door Holding Up?

This is one of the most popular questions I get asked. 

I painted my uPVC front door about 8 months ago. I’m very happy and relieved to say that it’s holding up well. 

Dragonfly door knocker on painted door

You’ll see it from time to time when I make my various seasonal wreaths. But the actual door is looking as good as new. I’m very happy with it. 

What Has Been Your Most Difficult Project?

My most difficult project you haven’t seen yet. It keeps getting pushed back down the priority list. That’s because it has issues that I don’t know how to solve. 

For example, I have a chest of drawers with a locked drawer and I don’t know how to open the lock. It has been in my shed for so long while I try and figure out what to do about it.

Other projects that are maybe easier, or at least easier to start, get bumped up the list. 

What Things Should You Avoid When Upcycling Furniture?

This boils down to two things. Your competence levels and your confidence levels.

I won’t touch anything with lead paint in it. You can get a professional to take care of it. It’s something I just don’t want around my home. So that is a no-go for me. 

image shows the swab against the lead paint test kit showing that it had traces of lead on it.

If you’re not confident or don’t want to use power tools, then you might avoid bigger projects that need structural changes. 

Think about whether you can do the project with what you know and the tools you have already. Do you have to learn something, and do you want to learn something? Do you have to invest in a new tool to get started?

It’s completely fine not to want to spend money on new tools. Or don’t fancy learning that skill right now. In which case just leave the project for someone else. 

Do You Only Paint Furniture?

You may have missed it because there’s just one video on my channel where I have restored furniture to its original look.

Finished cabinet restored wood

The challenge with that piece was that they had added some additional handles at some stage. So by taking away those extra handles, and trying to restore it to a wood, I had to hide holes and match it into a wood finish. 

It turned out well but it was a challenge I wasn’t expecting when simply removing grey paint.

I hope you got some answers to questions that you may have had. If you have any different questions that you’d like me to answer another time, feel free to leave a comment or message.

you might love these posts too:

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Hi there! I'm Rachel Bowyer, a passionate DIY enthusiast with a knack for transforming the old into something beautifully new. With a deep love for furniture painting, refinishing, and the art of crafting. I've been documenting my DIY projects and restoration journey since 2018. I specialise in techniques like decoupage, stencilling, and decor transfers. Join me as we explore the world of creativity and home improvement, one project at a time.

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