If you’re a fan of secondhand, thrift or flea sales, you’ll know the sorts of gems that lie waiting to for you to discover them. Indeed, these marketplaces are a feast for the open-minded shopper with everything from old military uniforms and china teapots, to first edition books and furniture, it’s rare to walk away completely empty-handed.

With many secondhand items priced far lower than their fresh-out-the-box equivalent, you can pick up some real bargains, especially if you’ve got the eye to see past their current state and imagine what they’d look like with some tender love and care. In particular, purchasing used furniture to upcycle can be a fun pastime and help you to create an item that far out-values the price you originally paid.

Firstly, check the item’s health

There’s nothing worse than kicking off an up-cycling project, only to find that the wood inside is rotten or infested with termites, roaches, or other nasty critters.

However, don't worry if this does happen to you. All you need to do is find a local pest control service that deals with these unwelcome visitors, such as Go-Forth Pest Control near Cary NC, and you’ll have your furniture back to optimal health in no time. If left undetected, these pests can do serious damage to your property, digging into the foundations and eroding wooden floors, so don’t delay in checking your used furniture.

Sand down and retreat surfaces

It’s likely that your pre-loved item has been finished in a way that feels dated, or doesn’t suit your taste. Luckily, it doesn’t take much expertise or effort to change the look and feel. You can follow a tutorial online, or have a go yourself if you’re feeling confident; simply take sandpaper to the surface, until it’s smooth enough to repaint or re-gloss in a pigment that’s more suited to your style.

Remember, if your piece of furniture has a distinct vintage feel, perhaps it's Art Deco or Victorian, you can produce a stunning final result by decorating it in a way that’s sympathetic to its original period.

Add or replace features

If you’ve got creative flair, you can play around with the existing features on your furniture and even add in your own. For instance, if you’ve purchased an old dresser and want to make it into a statement drinks cabinet, why not install glass where the wooden shelves were and use wallpaper to line the back? You’d be amazed at the transformation.

Work with your mistakes

No-ones perfect, and indeed neither is any craft project. If your plans take an unexpected turn, try to go with the flow and see how you can adapt your design in response. After all, the more handmade your upcycling project appears, the more guests will ask about it — giving you the opportunity to show off your skills! At the end of the day, upcycling should be an enjoyable way to spend your time, so try your best to relax and have fun.