I love a vintage find and at my Sydney workshop I’m often found working on old furniture, giving it love to make it function again as a collectible designer piece.
Upcycling is a good place to start because you’re working with something that’s already stood the test of time. But the trick to a total transformation and DIY with a designer eye is to avoid simply painting it.
I have a three-step philosophy to bringing pre-loved things back to life, whether it’s furniture, a room or even a house. It’s a tried and true formula and it works every time.
1. REMOVE ONE THING
Take away the one thing that is broken or dates it most. In this case it’s the vinyl.
DIY Little retro stools like these usually have shaped metal bases with upholstery that eventually tears and gets smelly. Remove the seat and back with a screwdriver, keeping the screws to use later, and pull off the vinyl covers and staples.
2. ADD SOMETHING NEW
Add one element that will modernise or make it useful again.
DIY Treat the frames to ensure they’ll last another lifetime by removing surface rust with a wire brush, wiping clean then spray painting. Add new rubber feet to give them a professional finish (find feet at a hardware store for about $1 each).
3. CHANGE ONE PART
Give the piece some love, making it more sensory by changing the surface texture, colour or smell.
DIY You can often reuse the seats, but once the upholstery came off these were too small to be comfortable. The bent plywood backs were a lovely shape though. I swapped the seats with another set of stools but if you keep yours, sand them smooth then stain or oil them for a rich texture then finish with some furniture or bees wax.
My Quick Vintage Stool Revamp
BEFORE The original stools had a torn vinyl seats and backs and the metal frames had surface rust.
AFTER Peeling away the upholstery revealed the lovely shape of the bent plywood backs and replacing the seats with bigger, chunkier timber makes them easier to sit on.
I also shared my 3-step philosophy with Recycled Interiors where you can find lots more sustainable DIY projects for a greener home.