An expert upcycler shares how her online community provides constant inspiration
When starting a new hobby, finding a like-minded community on social media is a great source of support. Beverley Wilde got into upcycling with the help of online communities, and it’s inspired her to help others try their hand at it.
Beverley Wilde lives in Drogheda and runs Revamped Furniture, an online store and upcycling service. Beverly also offers masterclasses and hosts regular Facebook Lives to help people improve their upcycling skills and shares tips on how to locate, treat and transform old furniture.
With Covid limiting what we can do in-person, the trend of people turning to online communities to explore hobbies has never been more important, with over a quarter of a million people in Ireland joining hobby Groups on Facebook since March 2020.
Here, Beverley shares how she got into upcycling, the impact of social media, as well as her tips for people who want to give it a go themselves.
How did you get started in upcycling?
My first upcycling project was a bedroom set when I was in my early 20s. It was a dark brown veneer set and it needed brightening up, so I painted it with white emulsion. I don’t think upcycling was a ‘thing’ back then, but I’m glad I stuck with it after all these years.
I got the chance to turn my passion for DIY and upcycling into a business in recent years that has thankfully gone from strength to strength. Even during lockdown, I got the chance to connect with new customers and communities on Facebook and Instagram.
What appealed to you so much about it?
I was artistic at school and enjoyed being creative. I also dabbled in DIY from a young age so when it came to me trying my hand at revamping and upcycling furniture, I had a good understanding of the basics!
I’ve always been eco-conscious and have an appreciation for the world around me. I strive to do ‘my bit’ for the earth and environment. Reusing, recycling and recreating old into new is more than just upcycling. A central part of my business is bringing this ethos to life in order to help those around me to see the purpose in what they have already.
When you first started out did you seek advice online?
I joined lots of Facebook Groups initially and connected with like-minded people from all over the world. It was my daughter who suggested that I create a Facebook page to showcase my projects. From there, my online community has grown to over 5,000 people.
I also set up an Instagram page which now has a community of over 2,500 dedicated upcyclers! Every day, I receive messages from followers asking for advice from how to treat a certain type of wood, to upcycling certain types of furniture that you might think are destined for the skip.
I’d recommend investing in good quality products, learn the importance of prep, however minimal, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from your paint stockist.
What are some of your favourite projects that you’ve done?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I love working on a variety of projects and materials, although I really love working with natural wood. You can easily paint or stain a piece of wood and give it a new lease of life! I enjoy revamping kitchen and dining tables – they are such a central focal point of any house.
On a recent table revamp, the dark wooden top was completely sanded back to its natural pale timber. A custom mix of wood stains were applied to give it a rustic, farmhouse style finish. Large mouldings were added to the top of the legs and then the entire frame was finished in a pale cream, completely transforming the style and looking like a different table altogether.
Have you seen an increase in people taking on DIY and upcycling projects recently?
There’s no doubt that upcycling has been very popular for many years, but I’ve definitely seen an upsurge during lockdown, as we’ve all spent more time at home and we’ve become even more aware of our home surroundings. Views on my DIY Facebook Lives, where I share tips on how to revamp and upcycle furniture, have increased two-fold during lockdown as people look for new and innovative ways to carry out home improvements.
In my opinion, Facebook and Instagram are a brilliant place for getting inspiration for revamping old furniture and sharing useful ways to upcycle household items. Some of my favourite pages or accounts to follow are @themodernrustichome, @prickly_plants_ and @ourclivedenhouse to name just a few.
What kind of projects would you recommend for a beginner?
If you’re new to upcycling, a small occasional table, plant stand or coffee table are ideal items to start out with. It’s really simple to get started – the must-have essentials are a degreaser, sandpaper, synthetic paintbrush and a good quality, water-based, furniture paint.
I’d also recommend joining a Facebook Group to connect with like-minded people with similar interests and ask questions – we all have to start somewhere! Facebook Groups and my own Page are still a constant source of inspiration for me. I use it as a place to share my progress and tips with my followers along the way.
Are there any tips you would give to someone who has never tackled a project like this before?
There is a multitude of great information available online. Of course, I would recommend checking out my Facebook and Instagram pages @RevampedFurniture for great tips and how-to videos.
Apart from that, I’d recommend investing in good quality products, learn the importance of prep, however minimal, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from your paint stockist.