Vintage Decor on a Budget
It is perhaps somewhat ironic that, in today’s highly technological society, shabby chic is gaining popularity at an incredible rate, with these two polar opposites managing to live side by side in perfect harmony. However, it shouldn’t really be all that surprising as we try to balance the high costs of owning the latest must-have gadgets by opting for a vintage look that not only reflects a less opulent era but can also be achieved for very little expense.
While it can be expensive to buy furniture and accessories that are purposely designed to look vintage, the same stylish look can be achieved yourself with some simple DIY and some clever up-cycling.
Up-cycling is different from recycling because it actually increases the value of something rather than just reducing it to be broken down for re-use.
Aging Wooden Furniture
Many people have a less-than-perfect table, desk or other piece of wooden furniture hidden somewhere in their homes. Perhaps it’s been knocked and the paint has chipped off or you’ve had it for so long that its original colour has fallen well and truly out of fashion. These pieces of old furniture are ideal for transforming from an ugly eyesore into a beautiful centre piece for your shabby chic room.
If you don’t have anything suitable, then odd bits of furniture can often be found for just a few pounds at car boot sales, jumble sales or on eBay. It doesn’t matter how aesthetically damaged a piece is, if it’s solidly built and won’t fall apart the minute it sees a piece of sandpaper, then it can be lovingly transformed into something that wouldn’t look out of place in the most stately of homes.
First, prepare your workspace and equipment. Protect the floor or work surface with newspaper or an old tablecloth and make sure the room is well-ventilated. You can pick up everything you need from your local DIY shop for just a few pounds.
Start by sanding the furniture down and applying a good paint stripper if needed, using a scraper to remove the old paint. Many people find it tricky to completely remove paint, especially around more intricate carvings but the beauty of the vintage look is that it’s very forgiving so don’t worry too much about little smidgens of paint that get left behind. Once you’ve removed as much paint as possible, sand down a second time to make your surface as smooth as possible.
Now the fun starts. Using a hammer or screwdriver, start hitting the furniture to make some chips in the wood until the piece is looking a little bashed up, then wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any dust or bits of stray wood.
Using an ebony wood stain, paint over your piece of furniture, leave for 20 minutes, then wipe off. The stain will settle darker into the chips and dents and much lighter into the rest of the wood. You can repeat this step until you get the colour you want.
The end result is an elegant, vintage piece, aged to perfection.
Up-cycling everyday items is a great way to either enhance an vintage furniture or add just a touch of shabby chic to an otherwise modern room.
Glass jars – every day we dispose of glass jars and bottles but they are actually very easy to age and re-use about the home. Once your glass container is empty, soak in soapy, warm water to remove any labels then allow to dry completely. Use fine sandpaper, to sand over the entire surface of the glass. This allows microscopic cracks to appear on the surface, giving the glass the milky look seen on old pieces. The more you sand, the milkier – and more aged – it will get. Fill with pebbles or oils for a decorative effect, or use as storage containers that won’t ever need to be hidden in cupboards or at the back of shelves.
Mirrors – Most mirrors have three layers, glass, silver and black backing paint. Making a shiny mirror appear older than it is takes some work but the end result is well worth it.
- Apply paint stripper to the back of the mirror and leave to soak overnight.
- Remove the paint using a plastic or wooden scraper (metal ones will scratch the glass).
- You’ll notice a waxy residue is left behind so remove this using damp kitchen roll and glass cleaner.
- Keeping the mirror face down, use a spray bottle or dropper to apply bleach to the silver. This instantly reacts with the silver to darken it. Normally, mirrors darken from the outside in, so for a more authentic look, apply more bleach to the edges. Rinse the bleach off with warm water to stop the process once you’ve reached your desired effect.
Everyday finds – Whether walking along the beach, through the woods or even digging in your own garden, our wonderfully historic country is full of old relics that are easy to pass over without a second glance. Look out for decorative pieces of driftwood washed up along the coast, pretty pebbles and quirkily shaped twigs in the countryside, or old bottles, cutlery and other knickknacks that are naturally aged, weathered and completely free.
Kate Knight writes for Savoo.co.uk , the money saving, voucher code and destination site for savvy shoppers.