28.11.11

DIY: upcycling a footstool


I'm proud to say that most of my furniture comes from the street. In my area of London people throw away all sorts of things, and when I cruise the neighbourhood on my bicycle I regularly spot TVs, couches, tables and lamps. Leaving your junk out is actually illegal and is called fly-tipping, but it's a great opportunity for people like myself on a student budget to furnish their apartments for free, while helping the environment by recycling.

I can't bare to see things go to waste- I think it's deeply engrained as a South African. In a country where millions build their houses out of road signs and scrap metal, no one would ever throw away good furniture.  Nothing goes to waste in South Africa, even rolls of food packaging can become beautiful wallpaper. When I moved to London I was horrified to witness a complete lounge suite being loaded onto the garbage truck and sent off to become land-fill waste.

I'm glad that the following WWII phrase is gaining popularity in Europe again, in the face of spending cuts and austerity measures: 

"Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without"

So in the spirit of making it do, I'll tell you about my latest refurbishing/"upcycling" project. I found a tatty, stained old footstool on the street and fixed it up nice-nice. I've always wanted a footstool, I blame Disney:

Disney: the reason I love footstools. Left: Beauty and the Beast, right: Alice in Wonderland.
My project was inspired by these chunky knitted stools by Claire Anne O'Brian:

The inspiration for refurbishing a footstool found on the street.
This is what I did:

Footstool before and after
1) Wipe clean and then sand the wooden base to get ride of flakey old paint. I don't have a garden so I did this on the pavement outside my apartment. I got some strange looks from passers-by, but the neighbours already know me as the crazy DIY-lady.

2) Paint the wood with Dulux Satinwood or any gloss enamel, leaving to dry between coats. I laid newspaper down and did this inside the apartment.

3) Re-cover the cushion part by stretching a new piece of fabric over it and securing it with a staple gun to the underside. It doesn't have to be neat because no-one will ever see the underside again. I used an old, cable-knit jumper as the re-covering fabric. A staple gun is an awesome piece of kit. When you're finished covering the cushion, you could shoot staples at a target, but that would be irresponsible.

And there you have it! I especially love the stripped-down rococo curves:


I have used the staple gun once before to cover our dining room chairs. They were really stained and awful so I covered them in some Toile de Jouy (mad about the stuff) from the cheap fabric shops on Goldhawk Road.


The staple gun strikes again:  a chair I had previously given new life to, by re-covering with Toile de Jouy

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