Oxford, Retro and vintage furniture, Vintage

Upcycling furniture

I have found quite a few pieces of furniture on the street in Oxford and I just can’t help myself to take it home and bring it back to life.

I’m no upcycling expert but decided to give it a go with two of the pieces I’ve found. One is a wood coffee table that had many stains and burnt wood on the table top. The other, is a bedroom dressing table with three drawers.

My first step was to read lots of blogs and get some inspiration and then as with everything – Mother knows best, so I gave Diane a call back in Liverpool for some advice before I started.

I went up to the Cowley Centre in Oxford and hit up Wilkinsons for some white gloss paint (it said I didn’t need a primer/undercoat with this), some wood stain, sanding paper, white spirits and some wood gloss. I also read that its worth investing in some good brushes so I bought a set of Harris brushes and they were pretty super.


Here’s what I done to the dresser (as I said, I’m no expert – so just me doing it on the cheap!)

1) Put down a protective sheet and gave it a good clean everywhere with warm water with a bit of washing up liquid in it. I took the drawers out for safe keeping till later.



2) Sanded it down for a good hour or so. I should have had muscles like Popeye after it – it was a good workout. I made sure any of the stained/worn sections were really sanded down and then just a good scrub everywhere else.


3) Another clean down and then left it to dry

4) I began painting the sections I wanted white, painting with the grain. Sounds silly but I totally forgot that paint dripped so some sections ended up getting drips coming down on it, so if I done it again, I’d have planned which sections to paint first. I then just left it to dry over night.



5) I took the drawers (again on a protective sheet) and again cleaned, sanded, cleaned. Pass me the spinach for my new muscles…



6) I then started with the wood stain, which was fun to apply! It reminded me of how good your hair feels after you’ve used a good conditioner – the wood just sucked it right in.


7) Left both to dry overnight and then done another coat

8) I checked it was dry and tried pressing my fingernail in on the white bits just to check it wouldn’t dent.

0107 final


I was pretty happy with the results, I left some of the wood peeping through the white in some sections as I quite liked it. It’s not perfect and I could have spent a lot more on different paints and bits but for a worn out piece I found on the street and my first go, I’m pleased.  I also decided to give the varnish a miss as I liked the contrast of the glossy white and the earthy wood. If you’ve got any thrifty tips to update furniture let me know – I’m thinking of buying new handles for it as well 🙂


Here’s my coffee table which I painted in the same style. I’m not as pleased with this, as the white top is just a bit too much ‘white’ and I kind of wish I would have left it as wood but oh well. My mum has suggested getting some vinyl patterns to stick on, which I might try to jazz it up a bit.

After three days, lots of paint on my skin, which I can’t get off  – it’s time to have a soak in the bath!


  1. If you find the white gloss a bit much you could try one of the range of paints that Annie Sloan does, perfect for upcycling. She has a little shop on the Cowley Road so supporting local 🙂

    1. Thanks Phil – I did debate the Annie Shop but didn’t have lots of money but I’ve got another piece to do which is a bit special so think I’ll splash out for that one! 🙂

      1. Her paint is lovely but isn’t cheap that is for sure!

  2. […] recently wrote a blog about some pieces I found in Oxford and upcycled. It was my first attempt but I was pretty pleased with the results. So, I was very happy to find a […]

  3. […] posted some upcycling pieces last year, basically I sanded, painted and varnished […]

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