Upcycled Furniture – a new look for an old gramophone cabinet

Upcycling Furniture - gramophone cabinet

After getting completely hooked on Kirsty Allsopp’s Fill Your House for Free (if you’ve never seen it, I strongly suggest that you make yourself a cuppa and find it on All4,) I went on the look out for cheap unloved furniture.

I found a tonne of great places where people were practically (and actually) giving away perfectly decent furniture.  It’s scary to think some of this stuff could end up in landfill and be lost forever!  I wonder how many buried treasures of this kind there really are in the UK…

Anyway, I scoured sites like Freecycle, Freely Wheely, Freegle and a couple of local Facebook groups too, until I found an absolute gem.  This beautiful gramophone cabinet was advertised free, yes free, on my local Freegle site, and with collection just minutes from my house I practically dove into the car to go and get it.

Before upcycling

I absolutely love old furniture.  I don’t know much about it, like the years certain pieces were made or what type of design movement they fall into, but I just love the uniqueness of it.. and often the complexity.  I like how furniture can have a history – the odd dink here, maybe from somebody trying to carry it through a tight doorway; the odd ring stain their from a mug of tea too hot on a cool winters day.

I knew this piece was going to take pride of place somewhere in our new home, so I wanted to bring it back to life with a fresh new look.  I already had a pot of Crown’s Peppered White wood paint lying around, so I got to work on sanding it all down.  I used an electric sander which I decided to buy after getting a few projects (more to come on these another day).  It was just a cheap one from Argos but seemed to do the trick no problem.


Two coats of paint later and I was ready to make a start on the doors.

I’ve seen a  few great projects that have used decoupage for added interest so I figured I’d give that ago too – considering this was my first serious upcycling project, I might as well!  I think you can use any type of paper, but I opted for wallpaper because I knew it would be more resilient.  Remember you don’t have to buy a full roll, I got two sample pieces off ebay which were the perfect size, with a little to spare for another project.

I had intended to use Modge Podge glue as all of the demos I’d watched on Youtube used this brand.  However, since we had just moved house all my things were upside down so I couldn’t find it, and opted for a simple, cheap PVA glue alternative.  And it worked like a charm.

I spread a generous amount on the wood and placed the paper (cut to size) on top.  After pressing it down and smoothing it out, I went over it all with a credit card to smooth our any further bumps.  A couple of top coats of PVA glue and the doors have a sleek, glossy finish.


I did end up with a couple of scraps where the glue had come away – I think the Modge Podge may have been a little harder wearing, but you can’t see the imperfections so I’m happy enough to have used the PVA alternative this time.

To finish the look, I wanted to include some statement knobs so again I turned to ebay to find these two ceramic pink door knobs.


And here it is, modeled by the lovely Dalton cat – a fresher looking, completely revamped, upcycled and re-loved gramophone cabinet (that now acts as my towel and linen cupboard.)  Although I do need to fix those doors, they’re still not quite hanging properly!


Upcycling project number one – success.  Now onto the next…

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