“I am always doing that which I cannot do the I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Did you know that nine million tons of furniture go into landfills every year?
That number continues to rise. From 2005 to 2015 the number grew from 7.6 million tons to 9.69 million tons. That stat was from 2015, so it’s probably increased each year by a sizable amount.
The EPA stated furniture is the least-recycled household item. Many of our landfills are reaching maximum levels. It’s past time for our communities to wrap our minds around “repurposing” (adapting for use for a different purpose) and creating innovative recycling programs.
We also need to support and invest in “upcycling” (reusing discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original) businesses, like Second Use in Seattle. Second Use offers classes on repurposing all types of used materials and furnishings and they promote a couple of craft fairs each year supporting artists who upcycle.
Three Old Armchairs
We sold all our furniture when we moved to the Pacific Northwest from Kauai, Hawaii. Then we bought our current home, a cosmetic fixer with good bones. It had not been loved and was in dire need of remodeling, what the real estate listing referred to as “deferred maintenance.”
We did a little work before moving in, enough to get by, and budgeted to buy some furniture to get our household livable. We decided to hold off on acquiring additional furnishings until we were further along.
One day I was doing some research looking for some affordable building supplies on OfferUp, a resale app. Sometimes a person can get a great deal by buying unused materials from private sellers.
I noticed a listing by a business that was giving away three sturdy, high quality, but very worn upholstered armchairs. I responded and they offered them for free if I would pick them up. I was happy to discover they were in great shape except the fabric was completely worn out.
I had never reupholstered anything before, so this was a new challenge. I knew I had a place for each armchair and the savings of making them like new again would be remarkable. I stuck them in the garage to sit or throw stuff on for about a year and then it was time to attempt this upcycle project.
200 Staples Later
The first chair was going to go in the upstairs bedroom. The room was ready for additional furnishings and I had a perfect spot to place the our new upcycled armchair.
First, I needed to take the chair apart with my tools and remove the tattered upholstery fabric. I must have removed 200 staples! It was more complicated than I first imagined to remove the wooden arms, legs, and seat base with springs.
Once I was done taking it apart I carefully removed the fabric so I had a pattern to follow. The back of the chair had spiked tack strips holding on the back panel that I had to carefully remove so I could reuse them.
“If more designers had bad backs we would have more good chairs.” —Ralph Caplan
I was thrilled with the results after completing the first chair. It was so comfortable and looked like it came from a designer’s showroom. I spent less than $50 on materials, plus my time. I learned so much and I was now confident I could do the other two chairs without any problems.
1 Down, 2 To Go
After we finished our living room remodel, we found the perfect sofa to accommodate the size of the room. Now it was time to complete the remaining two chairs. I choose a fabric that would complement the sofa. I’ll let you judge the final result!
If you learned anything from my experience, I hope it was to take a risk and try a repurposing and/or upcycling project on your own.
The trick is to carefully take the object apart while noting each step. Save your materials to make a pattern, and don’t wait too long in between steps.
You can do it!
“You can’t change the past, but you can change the future, so always remember to recycle.” —unknown
If you enjoyed this post you might also like to learn how I created an Affordable Beachy Countertop out of rough construction materials.