Revamp your home with top tips from the DesignDoc

Posted by admin on 2nd November 2015

Freshening up your home doesn’t have to be costly. For beautiful, unique furniture that costs a fraction of the price, why not think about upcycling? It’s sustainable too! 

We caught up with Emily from Emily Rose Vintage – a professional upcycler – to get her top tips on creating a homely haven with used but beautiful furniture…

Ask for freebies and investigate charity shops

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for pieces to upcycle - you'll be amazed at what you’ll be offered.  Alternatively, keep your eyes peeled for items that are put out for collection – the streets are paved with furniture-gold! Don’t forget to try Gumtree, Freecycle, local Facebook groups or charity shops for plenty of upcycle-worthy items at a bargain. Anything can be painted, not just furniture, so be on the lookout for household items like lamps that can be revamped as well.

Getting the vintage look

Even new furniture can get the vintage treatment. Building up colour is a great way to make a piece look like it was painted years and years ago. Build thin layers of neutral tones underneath a vibrant top colour so that when you sand it you get the old wood showing through the three or four different tones. Rub wax in random places between each layer and when you sand, the colours underneath will show through. I use Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint or Fusion Mineral Paint for these looks - which need no priming. You can use dark wax afterwards to seal the piece.

Look for shape and style – not condition

Look for pieces with a lovely or unusual shape. Don’t worry about garish colours or scratched surfaces - they can all be transformed by sanding or with paint. Don't be tempted to automatically dismiss something just because it is scratched or chipped - this is easy to fix and much cheaper than solid wood. Often the wood underneath the veneer is great quality and you can steam off veneer with a damp old towel and an old iron and then sand the wood beneath.

Use painter’s tape

This stuff is amazing. Geometric patterns wouldn't be possible without it. Apply to a clean and sanded piece in your chosen pattern. Use less paint than normal and build up the coverage slowly as it makes bleed-through much less likely.

Think about little details

To finish off your new items, think about the details. Sometimes just adding some vintage wallpaper inside drawers, using some stencilling or changing handles really brings a piece of furniture alive and makes it look and feel really special. Little details like this can completely transform a piece in your living space.

Zero Waste Scotland has launched a new campaign called Design Doctor (#DesignDoc) offering expert advice to inspire people to give old furniture a new lease of life. Each week an item of furniture is sourced from a Revolve-accredited store – shops that meet really high standards for selling used items. The Design Doctor then sketches three options as to how the item could be transformed and the public get to vote for which one they want to see put into action. At the end of the week the finished item is revealed, along with a host of hints, tips, blogs, videos and vines. 

You can follow the campaign at and