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How to Save Money on Furniture by Upcycling

Susan Yoo-Lee

After moving into my new home, I quickly found out that my old apartment furniture looked out of place and did not have the right color scheme nor character for my Cape Cod-style home.

My husband and I went to a dozen furniture stores only to find furniture that was either too expensive or too cheap in quality. We had good sturdy pieces at our home but it just lacked the color and character that was needed for our new space.

As I was searching for used furniture on Craigslist, I came across these wonderful chairs and nightstands that were upcycled.

Immediately, a lightbulb went off. Couldn't I do the same thing with my old furniture and save a lot of money? But how do I go about painting my furniture and make it look like I bought it new from the store?

Meet Krissy Arora from the website bohoupcycle.com. She is an artist and she teaches workshops on how to upcycle old furniture at her new store in Los Angeles, Calif.

Arora says she got started with upcycling after her sister introduced her to the world of vintage furniture. She says that you can upcycle almost anything, including wicker chairs, old desks, metal patio furniture or a wood bench. She adds that you can even redo Ikea pieces. If something is damaged, she says it's more work, but you can still fix it and make it usable again.

The cost of upcycling depends on the project, Arora says. "The size of the piece, how much damage there is and how much you need to spend on supplies. Upcycling an old watering can with a new coat of paint is going to be a lot more affordable then upcycling a sofa," she adds. Sometime you have to purchase new tools, like knobs for an old dresser, too.

Here are five more tips from Arora:

1. Invest in your tools and it will save you money in the long run.

2. Always check out your furniture piece thoroughly for damages before buying. A really great looking piece may have some interior damage that could turn a project into a pricey one. Open drawers, look under cabinets and be thorough.

3. Don't be afraid to be creative, you really can't mess up, and if you do, you just paint over the problem.

4. Practice, practice, practice! Make sure to paint as much as you can. Buy throwaway pieces that you can explore and have fun with. Buy old picture frames and try out different painting practices. The more you paint, the more comfortable you will be to try out those big pieces.

5. Paint quality is the bread and butter to your project. I made the switch to chalk paint a few years ago and it has been so cost effective for me. Latex paints need priming and prepping, but not chalk paint. So you spend less money, which is what upcycling is all about.

This spring cleaning season, consider restoring your old furniture instead of throwing it away. You'll save money and make your home more beautiful at the same time.

Susan Yoo-Lee is the editor of Savings.com personal finance blog and founder of Mommas in the House blog.

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