How to Breathe New Life into Old Furniture with Paint

One Lockdown, Two Experts, One Bedroom

This project completed during lockdown 3.0 and is a fabulous story of collaboration, skill-sharing and virtual creative design.  We searched for two individuals to try out our Eggshell paint and invited them to join forces on this project as part of our #UnsameYourHome campaign - focusing on creating interiors that reflect you and your style.

Tia Talula had previously attended a workshop held at our Craig & Rose Chiswick showroom with Sarah-Jane, founder of Nua Nu so she had seen first-hand what could be achieved by upcycling furniture. 

Meet the Stylist

Tia is a professional photographer, stylist & lifestyle blogger at She picked up a camera 14 years ago, and never looked back, turning her hobby into a career has loved every moment since.  She loves style and incorporating new trends into her home to create a backdrop for clients and blogging projects. When Tia first set about redesigning her bedroom there was a consideration as to whether to get new furniture or to make use of existing pieces.  Her bedside unit and chest of drawers were still in good condition, made from solid wood but they didn't fit with her new scheme.  

Meet the Upcycling Expert

Sarah-Jane is the founder of Nua Nu and she's passionate about upcycling furniture and transforming it into bespoke contemporary pieces for your home.  Using a mixture of creativity, innovation and traditional skills, she creates custom-furniture and offers fun and informative upcycling workshops in London.  Her background in Fine Art and 10 years teaching experience, along with a "make, mend and do" ethos, drives her passion to create and teach.

Sarah Jane's Top Tips

  • When starting off your upcycling journey consider the style that you like, I personally love mid-century furniture. They do tend to be better quality and have more interesting styles. Often Mid-Century furniture feature elegant legs that lift the unit off the floor, this gives a sense of space. This movement created affordable furniture with clean lines, the designers experimented with different materials, colours and often have elements of fun!
  • See if family members or friends have furniture that they don’t want in their garage or attic. People often have mid-century furniture that they know is good quality and haven’t thrown it away. But it needs lots of TLC or maybe it doesn’t currently fit with their existing style /room.
  • Another tip is to practice on smaller projects first, so a small side table rather than a 6ft sideboard.
  • Once you have found a piece that you would like to upcycle, the most important thing is to prep the furniture before you paint. I guarantee that if you put the hard work in at this stage the finish will look more professional. 
  • When I prep a piece, I always wash the furniture down with sugar soap before sanding. This helps to remove all the hidden dirt and grime that has built up over the years. You don’t want to clog up your sandpaper with this grime! It’s also worth buying high quality sandpaper as you will use less in the long run.
  • Hand sanding is best, if you are painting a piece of furniture you only need to key the surface so that they paint adheres. In between coats I use a fine sanding pad to ensure that I get a smooth paint finish!


As you can see, the furniture pieces were in a good condition but the orange tone of wood meant that they didn't fit well in the light, muted, relaxing concept that Tia had in mind for her bedroom.  

The Process

Sarah-Jane took on the bedside unit and Tia tackled the larger chest of drawers. The two documented their process with Sarah-Jane advising and guiding Tia along the way.  These are the steps they went through, from start to finish.

1. To get started they used sugar soap to ensure a good, clean base. 

2. The next step was to sand down the drawers, to remove all traces of wax and to create a nice smooth surface. They both used a hand sander for this, as there was quite a lot of wax to take off. 

3. The handles were removed and the existing holes and small areas of damage were filled with a wood filler. Once dry, the filled areas were sanded down too.

4. Next step was to prime the furniture using Craig & Rose White Undercoat. This ensured a high-quality finish and consistent colour.

5. For the topcoat, Pale Mortlake Cream was used for the inside the panel of drawers fronts and Royal Circus was used on the beading.  The outside surfaces of both units were also painted in Royal Circus using a small roller.

6. After leaving the first coat of paint to dry for a sufficient time they lightly sanded the surface of the furniture once again with a fine sanding block. Afterwards, a second coat of paint was applied.

7. Next came the drawer front details.  The rattan was cut to fit the inside panel of the drawers.

8. It was then painted with two coats of Royal Circus to match the unit.

9. Tia and Sarah-Jane carefully used a staple gun to attach the rattan to the drawer fronts, stapling around the outside edges.

10. Long BBQ skewers were painted in Royal Circus and cut to size. These were used to cleverly disguise the edge of the rattan and staples.

11. A hot glue gun was used to attach the skewers to the edge of the beading.

12. Once again, wood filler was used to fill the gaps and make it all look seamless.

13. There was then a little bit of sanding to create a smooth surface an another coat of paint, just across the beading detail. 

14. Finally, holes were drilled ready for the new handles.

The Final Result

Big Thanks

A big thanks to both Tia and Sarah-Jane for taking on our upcycling challenge.  We think you'll agree, the furniture now looks great and fits perfectly with the newly decorated room.  They have shown just what is possible with some premium paint and a little expert guidance!


If you want to get in contact with Tia, just message her through her Instagram account @tiatalula

To have your own bespoke piece of furniture custom-made by Nua Nu or to find out more about the workshops, please get in touch via her website.