How to upcycle furniture the easy (and cheap!) way- and how not to

I have some valuable info for all you crafty DIY types out there! Actually, if you are that type, you probably already know. So, maybe this info is for all those who, like me, create a crap storm of a mess every time you try to make stuff. I invented Pinterest fails. So, maybe you will learn or maybe you can get a laugh from this post. Either way, you win.

Let me start out by explaining what prompted all this artsy-ness. I’m involved with a local ministry and some of us decided to try an experiment. We each accepted a challenge to take $50 and multiply it in any way we could in order to use the profit to bless another woman. We originally had two weeks to do it, so that was my mindset and time frame starting out. Later, the deadline was actually extended so we could take advantage of Mother’s Day gift buyers, which led to my next experiment that I will share in a future post.

So, with a short time frame and $50, I had to do the quick hustle rather than craft some intricate Prestige Worldwide import/export economic asset optimization corporation. I made up that whole phrase. It literally has no meaning. Anyway, I’m pretty good at the quick hustle, having been pretty broke the good majority of my life.

Read more about how to do the quick hustle here.

So, I hit a few garage sales on a Saturday morning, looking for stuff to flip. It was a pretty lame garage sale day but I got a few things. I did not take before pics because I’m not a good blogger. I got a wooden kids chair, a small metal table and a wooden end table. The end table was $7.50 and the other two things were $4.50 together. That was a cheap deal because the lady didn’t have change for a $20 so she said she would take the ones I had on me even though I offered to go get change. So, I found two quarters to throw in. She originally wanted $5 each. (If you do the math, you will notice I was about to spend $10 but the lady only made me pay $4.50. That is a savings of almost 60 percent, people!)

Okay, so my thought was that I would paint the stuff and resell it. It was all sturdy, just kind of old and dirty and ugly. Well, guess what. Paint is stinkin’ expensive. I had forgotten that. So, I then spent a large chunk of my $50 buying paint. They only had one can of what I really wanted, which was chalk spray paint. So, I bought that and two cans of regular gray spray paint and a can of gold.

I painted the kids chair (which had a seat that lifted off so you could store toys in it) a dark gray. It took about a can and a half to get good coverage on it. I listed it on a local Facebook yard sale group and it sold for $20 right away.

I painted the small metal table gold and I still have it. It’s cute and someone should buy it. 

I painted the white end table with the light gray chalk paint and it turned out perfect. It looked so good. It sold quickly for $25. I love that paint.

I know it looks blue but it really was a pale gray with a white top.

The next week our town had their city-wide garage sale. I waited until the sales were over (for one thing because I was sick) and then went Sunday night driving around town looking to see if anyone had stuff that didn’t sell sitting out by the curb. They did but it was mostly junky stuff. EXCEPT for this one gem. It was a wooden glass top table with a magazine/book storage on the bottom and a lamp attached. It was the lovely late nineties hunter green and oak with a super gross and dirty lamp shade. But it was solid and we loaded that baby up. I brought it home and everything started to go downhill with my “free” score.

I knew that the hardware store was out of the Krylon chalk spray paint (about $8 a can at Ace Hardware) so I went to Wal-Mart to see what they had while I was buying supplies for my other projects. They had a Rust-oleum chalk spray paint (about $7 per can) and I figured they would work about the same. I was wrong. The Rustoleum was no bueno. It was drippy and didn’t stick as well and had worse coverage than the Krylon. So, since I had some left over primer, I just painted over it with that. Then, I used some white spray paint I already had in the garage. It just kept getting worse. I was trying to keep from spending more money on this thing so I just kept throwing more paint at it. Nothing was really working too well so I finally had to go back to the hardware store and get some cream-colored Krylon. It wasn’t chalk paint but at this point, I just had to work with what I could get. Of course, over all those other layers (I refuse to sand), there were imperfections showing through and there were some really hard angles to get even coverage on inside of the storage slots.

Good paint

Bad paint.

So, I still wasn’t happy with the results, even when I plopped a new lampshade on top. So, then (I’m sorry this is a long story), I painted the gold lamp parts with rubbed bronze that I already had here. It looked somewhat better but not up to my standards. Then one night I woke up at 3am with the remembrance that I had some antiquing glaze I used on my bathroom cabinets a couple years ago. Aha! I could hardly wait to apply it. (Some might say I have obsessive tendencies.) It did just what I hoped it would and I am now perplexed as to why no one has bought it yet. I will keep it if no one does because it’s really cute now but I would like to make some of this paint/lamp shade money back so we can have a higher profit for our mission!

So, the take-away here is this: ONLY BUY KRYLON CHALK SPRAY PAINT. If you buy it from this link, I get some money. I don’t know how much. Let’s try it and find out.

The end.

P.s. Look for my next post soon about the other DIY project I attempted. I had one win and one fail in that experiment. It involved time in the kitchen.



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