Furniture Upcycle Challenge Update


I’m so excited to be participating in the Habitat For Humanity Upcycle Challenge at this year’s Toronto Fall Home Show.  Remember that awesome hallway piece I scored a few weeks ago?? I’ve been working hard on giving it the make over it deserves!!

Here’s a quick update of what I’ve been up to…. and from now on, I’m just going to call this piece”The Cubby”!!!

The cubby had a back piece that was obviously hand made.  It was just a few pieces of particle board cut to size and screwed into the back.  It was super easy to remove with my power drill.

Once i removed the back piece, I filled all the holes with some wood filler and sanded down the rough edges, then gave it a good clean!  This piece has definitely been well loved.

When the cubby was all clean and smooth, it was ready for a coat of paint.  I decided to go with House and Canvas Chalk Finish Paint in Angora which is a pure white.  I debated for days on what color to do this piece.  The artist in me wanted to go bold with baby blue or teal, but the practical home owner in me won, and said go with White.  It matches everything and since I didn’t know what I was doing with the back panel just yet, white was  good option.  The truth is, I really want people to see this piece at the Home Show and picture it in their own home, which I’m hoping will inspire them to tackle an upcycle piece them selves.

Once my 2 coats of paint were dry, I distressed the edges with 180 grit sandpaper and gave it 2 coats of House and Canvas Wax Top Coat for supreme durability.  A little bit of distressing along the edges gives the cubby a warm, farm house, country look which is super popular right now!!


Now that the cubby is painted, it was time to tackle the back panel, so off I went to my local ReStore for some inspiration.  The Restore is filled with goodies just waiting for a new home and I knew I would find something there to utilize.

While at the Restore, we came across a few materials I thought about using… one in particular was a box of click and lock wood flooring.  Click and lock flooring would have a great look, but unfortunately it was super thick, and way too heavy.  I can just imagine the piece falling over!!  Another material I came across was a bunch of wall paper rolls.  I picked up a roll of a cool black and white pattern, and a roll of paintable, textured paper… Perfect!! I planned on wrapping the back panels with wallpaper.

Back at the shop I took out my new wallpaper and held it up to the cubby.  It was a bad option.  It didn’t match the unit and just looked overall ugly, so I put them in my pile of stuff-to-use-another-day.  I still really like the wallpaper idea, so I asked around my DIY’er friends if anyone had scrap wallpaper.  I’m on a budget here, so freebies are in my price range!!  One of my girlfriends just renovated her home and had some left over faux barn board wallpaper she used as a feature wall in her bedroom.  She was so kind to give me her left overs.  The wallpaper was paste the wall application, so I just mixed up some wallpaper paste, and gave the old wall panels a good coat of adhesive.  I layed the wallpaper and let it dry.

Yes, it looks super cool from afar, but it was a disaster!!! It looked horrible!!  First, I’m a dummy and hung the paper upside down.  Normally it wouldn’t matter, but this paper had drip marks to add to it’s rustic look, so now my drip marks were upside down and defying gravity.  Plus, the paper was quite thick, so the corners were bunching and looked horrible.  Plus, the paper was not interested in sticking to particle board.  I should have primed the surface first.  But too late… i’m outta paper!!!

I’m totally fine with silly disasters like this.  Mistakes are made for learning and as a DIY’er I’m used to making mistakes!!!!Back to square one.

I remember seeing this awesome wood plank wall at the Restore in Etobicoke.  I was totally inspired by it and snapped a pic.  Not knowing where I’d ever use the idea, but I loved it!!

Inspired by this plank wall, I decided to replicate it on the back of my cubby.  Still staying on a budget, I went shopping in my Dad’s workshop… seriously the best place ever.  The man hasn’t thrown out a single piece of wood in 50 years.  I  found enough odds and ends to cut enough 2.5″ x 44″ planks to cover the back of the cubby.  I think this is going to work!

I took the planks home and stained them in my favoruite Mixwax Jacobean wood stains.  Just one coat was needed.


At the shop, I layed out all the planks on the back of the cubby.  I’m super picky and detailed with projects like this and want the planks in a particular order based on colour, grain and amount of knots!!  Next, I flipped them over and nail gunned them into place.  LOVE my nail gun!!!


So, that’s where I am right now with this upcycle piece.  I’m just going to add a few details and it’s ready for it’s day infront of the camera.  I can’t wait to bring this piece to the Home Show and show everyone how easy and afforadble it is to upcyce a piece of furniture on your own.  All you need is to search one man’s trash, to find your treasures!!

Stay tuned for the big reveal!