Shabby Chic Furniture Upcycling

Spending some time in the Coromandel with my family, I decided to give furniture upcylcing a go. I really love the shabby chic style, so decided to go with that.

I’m lucky enough to have a dad who is an excellent builder with a work shed handy, so that helped. To start off with, I decided to practice on an old chest of drawers in my room, here’s a ‘before’ picture:


I removed all the handles and worked on the drawers/main body separately.

My dad lent me his small electric sander, which was useful on the main body. The drawers, I sanded by hand. The drawings on the drawers came right off when sanding.

After sanding down the whole thing, I applied two coats of a pale blue acrylic paint – test posts purchased from Guthrie Bowron were the perfect size.


After the coats dried, I used a sheet of sandpaper to sand back along the edges and parts of the drawers that might have been naturally worn, to achieve a ‘shabby  chic’ look.


After completing the blue coats and sanding parts back, I decided to do more work on it. Because I planned to upholster the handles with fabric, I matched a red paint colour to the fabric. Using the red paint for the tops of the shelves made it ‘pop’ a bit more.

Using masking tape, I taped the edges of the shelves first, then painted one coat of red on each shelf. The reason I only did one coat is because I wanted to sand through two layers of paint to reveal the blue beneath, and in other parts to show the white under that.

With the paint still wet, I removed all of the tape, which came off (mostly) cleanly. After it had dried, I sanded the paint back to blend it for the parts where it hadn’t come off cleanly. The parts where I made mistakes actually worked well with the shabby chic look, and I sanded those to blend as well. After blending, I sanded some more (all manually), to reveal paint layers underneath.

The skirt in the above image (hanging under the drawer) is what I used to upholster the drawer handles with. My dad used to do upholstery on the boats he built, so he showed me a few methods. Tools needed were a stanley knife, material glue, the material and the drawer handles.

I was covering the bottom part of the handle separately to the top. To start with, I put the screw back into the handle, to be able to hold it better well working on it. For the bottom part, I cut a strip of fabric, with one side being slightly rounded. Next, I covered both the strip of fabric and the bottom part of the handle with glue. Leaving the glue for a few seconds to become tacky, I then applied the fabric to the handle, making sure to stretch it round to avoid wrinkles. I then trimmed the excess off the bottom with the stanley knife.

The next bit was a bit trickier. First I cut a large piece of material, making sure to leave plenty of excess. I repeated the process of applying glue to the material and the handle – this time I only put glue on a small portion of the material – enough to cover the top only. Then, placing the handle upside down, with all the material spread out around it, I cut the surrounding fabric into strips.


Next, I applied glue to each strip of fabric, along with the corresponding bit of handle it would be glued to. Stretching the strip of fabric tightly, I glued it down, making sure to tuck it in as I did so, to fit to the shape of the handle (I did this using the flat edge of the screwdriver to push the fabric into the indent). Repeating the process all the way around, the final bits started to overlap but that was fine as it was underneath anyway so not easily visible.

After all the strips were glued down, I dragged a stanley knife along the indent where the two different fabric pieces met, and all the excess fabric then came off cleanly when pulled. Repeat this entire process 10 times on all the handles and, viola, I have floral fabric covered handles!

After screwing all the handles back into the drawers and reassembling it, I have a finished product. Painted a light blue, with bright red shelves and sanding to create a shabby look, plus floral covered handles, this is the completed look:


One thought on “Shabby Chic Furniture Upcycling

  1. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read a single thing like that before. So good to find someone with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s