DIY projects

Transform an old birdbath into a stylish side table

Rejuvenating second-hand furniture is an incredibly satisfying and sustainable way to decorate your home. With a little vision and some creative flair, you can reimagine tired trash into trendy treasure over a weekend. 

For this MasterStroke Flip, Gretchen Lowe transforms an old birdbath into a stylish side table with the help of some Resene products. You’ll recognise Gretchen from The Do Up, where she and husband Blair are undertaking an inspired renovation on their Kingsland bungalow. With her clever ideas and bold execution, Gretchen confidently shows that you don’t need to be afraid of colour and texture when creating beautiful spaces. 

Gretchen is an avid upcycler and sources her vintage items from all over the place. 

“I love to visit small town op shops, also Trade Me, the Salvation Army and Cordy’s auctions,” says Gretchen. “I enjoy the challenge of creating something beautiful out of something old and giving it a new life.”

The birdbath recently caught her eye at Cordy’s. “I loved the form of the birdbath and thought it was too pretty to sit outside, so I wanted to turn it into an indoor piece of furniture. A table seemed perfect.” Cordy’s is a premier antique, art and collectables auction house. They conduct monthly antique and art auctions, with three estate and collectable auctions in between. There’s always a vast range of unique and one-of-a-kind items to discover and be inspired by. 

As always, Gretchen has her arsenal of trusty Resene products on hand throughout the process. “There are so many colour options, and Resene sealer is the best product on the market for upcycling, as it negates the need for sanding or other prep – other than a good wipe down!” 

The process of upcycling old furniture is more sustainable and adds character that modern mass-produced pieces just can’t compete with. Plus, more often than not, older furniture is made with quality materials and really just needs a spruce up to look good as new. 

Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your own stylish side table.

1

Give the birdbath a bath

Put down a drop cloth to protect your floors from any damage or splatters. 

Give the birdbath a good scrub. Use a sponge and soapy water to wash away any dirt or grime that has built up from years spent outside in the garden.

2

Seal

Once the birdbath is thoroughly dry, apply one coat of Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer. 

As Gretchen said, it is perfect for this project as it primes surfaces that are usually considered difficult to coat. Plus, it dries fast and is easy to apply. 

As an alternative, you can use Resene Laminate and Melamine Primer or Resene Sureseal in place of Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer.

3

Add some colour

Using a paintbrush, apply two coats of Resene Lustacryl, allowing for dry time between coats. Gretchen used Resene Apple Blossom, which is a soft red, almost terracotta. Leave a space in the centre for an accent shade if desired.

4

Contrast

Use a small paintbrush to add an accent in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Sakura, a light peach blossom pink. As this is going to be a standout furniture piece, the semi-gloss finish will help it pop.

5

Accessorise

To add another element, Gretchen painted some accessories. Give them the same treatment by applying Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer, then paint them using the same two Resene colours you used on the birdbath. Gretchen has chosen different sized vases and a wooden candlestick to create an eye-catching display.

6

Top it off

Place a glass panel on the top and you’re done!

7

Enjoy!

Now it’s time to find the perfect spot in your home for your new table. It’s a great item to break up a hallway or add balance to a living space. 

Walls painted in Resene Alabaster, with paint effect in Resene Double Sea Fog mixed with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium and Resene Sea Fog mixed with Resene FX Paint Effects Medium. Panelling painted in Resene Eighth Canterbury Clay.

Gretchen’s top tips for budding furniture flippers:

  • Second-hand shops, estate sales and garage sales are great places to find vintage items at reasonable prices.
  • Look for pieces that are well-made and have good bones. Quality materials and construction will make the upcycling process more rewarding.
  • Check for structural integrity and make any necessary repairs before painting.
  • Retain and highlight the original charm of the piece during the painting process.
  • Explore various painting techniques beyond the traditional, such as distressing or stencilling.
  • Combine vintage aesthetics with modern elements for a fresh and unique look.
  • Enhance the functionality of the item during the upcycling process.

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