June 24, 2015

National Upcycling Day: Our Gumtree Challenge

Happy National Upcycling Day! Didn’t know that we had a day for upcycling? Well, we didn’t until today. The 24th of June 2015 marks the UK’s first ever national day of upcycling and we’re pretty happy about its arrival. This day of DIY goodness is aiming to inspire people to use a little bit of creativity to update, restore and generally breathe new life into old items. As we have a little bit of upcycling knowledge (painting chipboard with Annie Sloan counts, right?) we were asked to get involved with a special project.


Gumtree challenged us to buy an item from their site then upcycle it for an exhibition in central London, all with a budget of Β£100. We both spent a good few days trawling through Gumtree listings nearby and eventually decided to buy two Ercol Windsor chairs in Dalston. Having two meant we could both work on them separately and try out some different techniques.

ercol chairs new craft society

We always take our own chairs on public transport.

Ercol’s designs really are beautiful and the chairs were in amazing condition considering they’re over 50 years old. We were pretty scared about ruining them with our rookie skills but intrigue quickly got the better of us and we started sanding. Our first error was to use sand paper and not investigate a non-manual method of removing varnish. It took HOURS.

Hannah spent the best part of a weekend sanding all of her varnish away whereas I decided to leave the dark varnish and instead make another piped cushion for the chair seat.Β To finish them up we both used contrasting colours of Annie Sloan chalk paint to cover the legs and Hannah sealed her wood with Annie Sloan soft wax. (photos of the chairs will be added soon!)


Our finished chairs were then whisked (by us on the tube) to the event in Covent Garden and positioned next to all of the other entries. The best project was judged by upcycling extraordinaire Max McMurdo and the winner was awarded Β£500 to give to a charity of their choice. We didn’t win but we had a really fun night chatting about people’s projects and getting tips and ideas for the future.



We also drank quite a lot of prosecco and then had to navigate the tube system back home with our chairs, it was quite an adventure to say the least. At least we could put our feet up…

ercol windsor chairs stripped varnish

Have you done any upcycling lately? Show us your projects!


*Item and upcycling costs covered by Gumtree.

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