Beaded jewellery, handmade in Surrey, UK

Shabby-Chic Upcycling: Is it really that easy?

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It’s been a while… but I haven’t been lazy! Read on to find out about my latest project 🙂

Well over a year ago I mentioned in this post that I would soon have a proper workspace from which I could work – instead of having to compete with the rest of my family over space on the dining or coffee table.

Amazingly, the little room that was destined to become my studio (aka ANeetProduction HQ) took longer to complete than we’d originally hoped, but I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally moved in and am in the process of kitting it out with all the things a jewellery-maker needs 😊

One of the first things I needed was somewhere to store my jewellery-making components and a firm base on which to work. A bureau, I decided, would be exactly the right thing for the small space, but when I started looking around for suitable products I was astounded at the prices of items I liked – we’re talking ££££s 😳

There was only one thing for it: I’d have to try my hand at upcycling. And shabby-chic was the design I had in mind. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult? So I set about to finding out: Shabby-Chic Upcycling: Is it really that easy?

Here’s the bureau I purchased via eBay – a lovely oak piece with just a couple of missing features (a key and a bit of beading).


Those handles need to go!!!

Hmmmmm, this piece needed a makeover – and quickly! After much research via the Internet (YouTube is my friend!), I worked out what needed to be done. And if you follow these instructions, you too will find out that Shabby-Chic Upcycling really IS easy!

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SANDING: After removing the handles, I moved outside and got to sanding. This is important, as it removes any layers of varnish and provides a ‘key’ for the paint. I started with fine grade grit, but soon found that I need something more heavy-duty to take off any existing varnish and marks. Using an electric sander really helped…

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REPAIR: The bit of beading that had broken off was kindly replaced by MrNeetProduction. He used a piece of dowling, whittled into shape, which was then glued and nailed into place. Pretty good, huh?

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SUGAR SOAP: Before starting with a layer of undercoat, I made sure to wash the entire piece down with a solution of sugar soap. This ensures that all grease is removed so that the paint will ‘take’. I left the bureau outside for it to dry out thoroughly before starting to paint, having made sure that all areas that I wanted to be left unpainted (i.e. the brassware) were covered with masking tape.


I’d done some research on which paint to choose before the project began. Of course I could go all out and purchase some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, or maybe try Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish paint from my local B&Q store. In the end, however, I decided to try Autentico paint – mainly because I could source it locally and get good advice on how to use it properly from the wonderful Alicia at The Crafty Nest. 

Although Alicia was providing tuition when I arrived, she took time out to give me all the necessary pointers on which product to choose, how best to apply it, and how to avoid costly pitfalls. I was particularly surprised when she suggested I water down the paint – 1 part water to 4 parts paint – and I’m so glad I took her advice!

In the end, I opted for Autentico Versante Matt chalk paint – this particular product can be used both indoors and outdoors and does away with the need to apply wax, varnish or sealant afterwards. It also has an improved moisture membrane, meaning that it’s perfect for use on outdoor furniture (but that’s for my next project…)



I chose Autentico Versante in Bleu Gris

PRIMING: There’s no need to use a different type of paint as primer when working with Autentico Versante. I simply watered down the paint as advised and painted it on in the direction of the wood grain.


UNDERCOAT: Once the layer of primer had fully dried, I applied a second coat of watered-down paint. I knew I’d need more than two coats as the wood was very dark (lighter wood, such as pine, may need fewer layers).

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TOP COAT: Having left the prior coat to dry fully, I applied a final coat of paint – this time not watered down. This managed to cover all of the areas where I could still see the wood shining through, and I was really pleased with the result!

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FINISHING TOUCHES: A word of warning: before applying any finishing touches (adding new handles, polishing the brassware, re-attaching the levers) it’s VITAL that you allow your newly painted furniture to dry thoroughly. I made a rookie error thinking that because it felt dry to the touch, it must actually be dry. As soon as I lowered the lid and it came to rest on the wooden bars that emerge to hold it, I noticed that some of the paint on the lid had got stuck. 😦 Thankfully, a little touching up was all that was required!


All in all, I really did surprise myself, as I’m really not that great with DIY. But having done my research, taken advice from the experts, and received some valuable assistance from MrNeetProduction, I can safely say that Shabby-Chic Upcycling really IS easy! Take a look at the finished product below.

If you’ve ever dabbled in upcycling or think there’s anything I should have done differently, why not let me know in the comments?

Neets xx



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