Today’s DIY decorating project is all about the process of taking old or unwanted materials and turning it into something new and useful. Also called upcycling. It’s a great way to save money, reduce waste, and add a touch of creativity to your home.
One of the best ways to upcycle furniture is to use parts of one piece to make another.
This is exactly what I recently did when I took apart a beat up wood file cabinet a neighbor was taking to the dump. I knew the cabinet was too far gone for my DIY skills and passed it up, but then quickly changed my mind when I saw the intact paneled sides of the cabinet.
As you can see from the size of the panels in the above photo, it was a large and very heavy piece. I had Ed take it apart to save the side panels to make something completely unique with them.
At the time I had no idea what to do with them, but knew one day I would. They have been leaning against a wall in my studioffice for over a year just waiting to be made into something.
I finally came up with an idea. One that works perfectly with the simple rustic mantel I made last fall.(photo above)
When the warm months of the year roll around and the fireplace is not in use, I try to find ways to cover the firebox to hide it. In previous years I placed a large basket filled with colorful faux flowers to give the unsightly space something pretty.
Early this year, I moved the decorative green screen to a guest room where it looks even better. So I needed to come up with something new this year to hide the fireplace box.
I challenged myself to not spend a dime on doing so and to use only what I had on hand, which included using paint, stains and other supplies I have leftover from previous projects.
The wood panels have become a fireplace cover. I chose to stain the doors to match the mantel to keep the room serene and simple in my quest for it to feel more in-tune with the lake and nature that is outside the sliding glass doors in the room.
It took a bit of trial and error trying to find just the right color of wood stain that would match the unstained, but naturally aged wood color of the mantel.
Until I find the right piece of colorful art work for above the mantel, I hung a wall basket with purple hydrangeas right on the panels to add a pop of color.
How to Invisibly Hang Items Damage-Free
To hang a wreath or wall basket on a door or panels like I did: Push a thumbtack on the top of the door/panels. Don’t press it all the way in.
Cut clear fishing line in the length you need, wrapping one end on wreath/basket and wrapping the other around the thumbtack.
Press thumbtack in all the way. If placing on a door, it will close normally.
I like neutrals in decor, but do like to have color in a room and will most likely have to make the art myself for above the mantel because of the custom size I will need. I am thinking of something along the artistic style of Jennifer Paganelli.
How to Use Two Wood Panels to Make a Cover for a Fireplace
The wood panels were in great shape. The only thing I didn’t like about them was the orange tint of the wood stain on them. With a little time and a few DIY products, I was able to transform the panels into a fireplace cover.
- Wood panels
- Electric sander with 80 grit sandpaper
- Hand sanding block with 220 grit sandpaper
- Minwax Pre-Stain
- Varathane Stain in the color Briarwood
- Staining brush
- 2 hinges and screws
- Dremel tool with a sanding and carving bit.
Time needed: 4 hours
Upcycling Wood Panels to Make a Cover for a Fireplace
- Take Apart The Furniture
Every piece of furniture will require a different method to take it apart. When doing so, make sure you have safety goggles and work gloves on.
- Remove Existing Stain
I didn’t want to use stripper, so I used 80 grit sandpaper to remove the existing stain from the wood.
- Clean and Apply Pre-Stain
After sanding, clean the wood with a damp cloth to remove the sanding grit. Then apply a pre-staining product to condition the wood. Using this preps the wood and will allow the stain to go on evenly and not blotchy.
- Apply Stain
Use a brush or lint-free rag to evenly apply stain over the wood. Let dry.
How to Remove an Orange Wood Tint:
Even after I sanded these panels, the orange wood tint didn’t go away. I wanted to create a weathered wood color like driftwood. To do this I had to stain the wood a dark brown/grey first. After it dried I used 220 grit sandpaper to remove some of the stain.
If you want a more natural wood color and sanding doesn’t remove the orange tint in stained wood. You can bleach the wood or an easier method is to apply a white wash of watered-down white paint over the sanded wood. Let it dry and then lightly sand.
- Sand Over Stain
Once the stain is completely dry, use a hand sanding block with 220 grit sandpaper to remove some of stain until you like the color of the wood.
- Add Hinges
So the two panels would become a folding screen, add two hinges between the panels.
Optional: To notch out sides of panels so that the hinges are inset and flush, use a Dremel tool or router.
Note: In this photo, the hinged panels are leaning against the mantel. I may add support bracket stands to the back bottom edge of the panels so the panels won’t lean.
More Ideas for Upcycling Furniture:
- Use a sideboard or dresser to make a sink vanity.
- Use the mirror from an old vanity to make a coffee table or headboard.
- Use the fabric from an old sofa or broken patio umbrella to make seat cushions or curtains to make no-sew slipcovers.
The possibilities are endless!
Upcycling furniture is a great way to give old pieces a new life. It’s also a fun and creative way to add your own personal style to your home.
So the next time you see something in curbside trash, give it a second glance to see what you can come up with and then create!