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Sustainable furniture - recycled pieces in the decor

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Reusing that old but very cute piece can be a great way to save your decorating budget. After this post, you'll think twice about reusing and restoring before discarding your pieces.

Our house gains character if our memories, or some of them, are present in it. We have pieces that have been with us from house to house for a long time and that we don't want to part with.

Of course, when we want a new decor in a different house, we can't use everything we have. Otherwise, the house is the same as it was. But there are some pieces that have good structure and quality, or just fit well with the new decor/space.

1. Sandpaper, paint and a little affection

Our client wanted to discard this table which was his grandmother's and we thought

"Why not use it?"

The table had a good structure in solid wood and just needed a little caressing.

The process was very simple and anyone can do it:

- Sanding - first with a coarser sandpaper to remove the paint that was peeling;

- Sand again with a very fine sandpaper (without exerting too much pressure, so as not to damage the wood grain);

- Apply the paint. We chose a matte paint and opted for two tones: one gray and one (almost) black;

- Finally, we chose to put on a layer of wax and polish, to give a more resistant finish to the wood. We only use this finish for the top, as this is more subject to everyday wear. We chose to leave the rest of the structure in a matte finish, but if you prefer you can choose to apply a thin layer of beeswax all over the structure.

Et voilá! The table was reused and it fits perfectly as a small work area at home:

2. 70s Armchair

As soon as we saw this armchair, in a second-hand store, we realized its potential.

It was in very poor condition, its skin dirty and covered in ink marks. There was no seat cushion but the entire rotating mechanism, the steel feet and the frame itself were in excellent condition.

After restoring it, we liked the way it looked so much that we even considered keeping it in our studio. But soon came a project where the chair fit perfectly and we had to let it go!

If you have any pieces with similar characteristics that need to be recovered, get to work! Or you always have the option of delivering it to an upholsterer. In this case, we didn't want to do it because the (synthetic) skin itself had a lot to do with the time the chair was designed. We didn't want to detract from the piece by adding new upholstery.


1st - Cleaning: When cleaning, always use lukewarm water, soap and a soft cloth;

2nd - Remove ink stains: we use a product that has been on the market for many years, Supergel. It is always a good idea to try out the reaction of the cleaning product to the upholstery in a small hidden area;

3rd - Give a finish to revive the shine and protect the upholstery: we use a beeswax with a very soft cloth;

4th - Cushion: as the chair had no upholstery and we couldn't find any skin that was exactly the same, we chose to make a cushion for the seat. We opted for a contrasting material: a thick linen (tow) dyed in a terracotta tone, which ended up bonding very well with the leather of the chair.

70s armchair - final result.

3. Classic armchair in great condition (but exuding '80s)

This is a good example of how to take advantage of a classic armchair. We brought this armchair into the 21st century, giving the wood a new finish and selecting a simple upholstery fabric.

Here our intention was to remove the varnish from the wood and lighten it. As it was not possible, because the wood was already quite burned by the varnish and by time, we decided to give it a decapé finish.

For the upholstery, we selected a fabric with a texture very similar to linen but 100% synthetic, to be more resistant to everyday wear.

Tip: when you want to upholster chairs, sofas, etc, preferentially opt for fabrics suitable for this purpose, which are quite resistant and in synthetic materials.

4. Armchair

We kept the structure of the chair and went back to upholstery, with an imitation leather very similar to the original.

- The iron structure was rusty, so it was sanded and painted with black spray paint

- matte finish;

- We put new rubbers on the feet. We found exactly the same ones in a rubber shop on Rua do Almada, Porto;

- We upholster the seat and back using the traditional process: with upholstery tacks, stretching the skin well so it doesn't get slack;

- On the arms, we chose to put a different upholstery to contrast with the skin: we use a traditional fabric for men's winter suits.

Final result.

5. Recovered furniture and closed pantry area

In this last set of images, we show not only a recovered piece of furniture (which was going to be discarded) but also the transformation, in terms of interior architecture, that we made in the pantry where this cabinet was located. We transformed the niche into a closed pantry with storage, much needed to support the pantry.

Móvel antigo por restaurar, a precisar de ajuda de um designer de interiores

Closed pantry area designed by our atelier: we opted for the high-gloss finish and the white color, in order to give more light to this area without natural light.

The furniture was painted in a shade of green with a satin finish and placed in the dining room.

It worked out perfectly!

We put a collection of traditional dishes and platters in the cupboard, further accentuating the freshness of the green tones.

Here is a suggestion of other shades of green that we could use for this type of piece:

- CIN E655 Verde Dada;

- CIN 6422 Verde Taipe;

- CIN E709 Líquen;

- CIN E725 Sage Green.

Armário pintado num tom de verde com acabamento acetinado que foi colocado na sala de jantar.

For more information, please feel free to contact us:


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