Creating stunning upcycled furniture with paint and cupboard knobs

Upcycled furniture has become an increasingly popular way to create stunning and unique pieces for your home or as a small business idea. The amazing thing about it is that there is nearly no limit to the creativity you can use in an upcycling project and when style such as vintage, contemporary vintage, industrial vintage and country are so easily achieved through upcycling it is proving a real alternative to buying brand new generic furniture.

It takes some time and effort and is likely only attempted by people with a natural creative ability but the award of having your own custom item which matches your decor exactly is obviously very appealing and best of all, the costs of a small upcycle project are relatively low. You mainly need to consider the cost of the old furniture (which you may already have) sandpaper, paint, brushes, wax/sealant and new cupboard knobs. And if you go for a vintage type look you have the added advantage of not having to worry about getting a perfect clean finish.

To start a project you need a piece of furniture of which you like the form but don’t worry about the colours or finish. You can change those but you can’t easily change the form. Try and think creatively and imagine how the shape would fit in your desired location. You may already own a piece of furniture you want to work on or you can source them from car boot sales, second hand shops, online and flea markets.

This article talks briefly about the recycling process of furniture, from the prep to the painting to the replacing of hardware.


At this point you may also need to remove the hardware depending on their style. It is worth making the effort to remove the hardware at this point to allow you to get a cleaner finish with the paint and if you plan to change the hardware you will be removing them later anyway. You also need to consider that the new hardware may have differently sized bases which could leave exposed unfinished surfaces where the old knobs once covered.

If the piece is already painted, the best option is to sand back down to the wood or metal to see what colour is underneath to allow you to pick the correct paint colour for the finish you want. This also allows you to get the best surface for the new paint to catch to. This can be time consuming, so if you don’t have the time you may just want to slighly sand the existing paint to give the new paint a better surface to adhere to but you may need more coats of paint to get a flawless finish. There are paints on the market which allow you to paint without prepping the surface at all which will of course save you time but comes at an additional price and these paints can be a little thicker and harder to apply.


Painting is often the most exciting part of upcycling and is where you can get most creative. Take time to do some research on painting methods, use google image search to get inspiration or check our pinterest account and see what we have been liking.

Two tone

Two tone is a clever way to create an interesting finish. You can use one colour of paint and change the tone with some white paint that you might have left over from an older project. A popular option is to paint the legs of a table one colour the the top a different colour.

Lime wash

If you want a simple but elegant finish, lime wash is a cheap easy option. You simply rub the lime wash into the wood and pick out the grain, leave to dry a little and buff of to the desired level you want.

Painting the knobs and handles.

You can of course paint the existing knobs and handles but from our experience this creates quite a cheap and unprofessional finish and does nothing to add to the quality of the project. The addition of beautiful hardware is the easiest way to create a stunning finish to the reworked piece of furniture.

Rub back

If you want a vintage, aged look it is great fun to rub back the new painted surfaces of your piece. Think about where the item would get wear, like on the corners where people rub by, on the legs where people and chairs would bang or around where the cupboard knobs are placed.


Waxing and sealing

The next stage is to wax or seal the finish to add durability and avoid easy marking or staining. This is often a straightforward stage and simple takes one of two coats to add a clear finish. You can opt for a matte or glossy finish depending on the style you are looking for.

Replacing the hardware

You will likely want to replace the existing drawer and cupboard knobs if you are looking for a professional finish to your upcycled furniture. As well as adding a beautiful finishing touch to your piece, the new knobs can definitely add value to the furniture. Think about mixing up a selection of differently coloured and shaped cupboard knobs for a striking eclectic finish or use a mix of different knobs all of the same colour or finally, a mix of a single knob design but in different colour options.

We offer a selection of higher end cupboard knobs which can be ideal if you only want to change one of two knobs and want a truly impressive finishing touch.

We often hear back from our customers telling us how much they love their new hardware and how it has completed the look of the project

You can see our guide here about fitting cupboard knobs which explain the process of cutting down the rods to get a flush clean finish.