The Art of Upcycling

At Common Goods we are fortunate to receive a variety of unique furniture pieces from our generous donors. Some of these items can go directly to the sales floor. Other times, the pieces we receive need a little extra love and attention. At Common Goods, we call this process “upcycling“. It can be as simple as a new coat of paint, or it can be somewhat more complicated, requiring multiple steps which results in a complete transformation.

For those wanting to delve into upcycling, there is no doubt that the process can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never attempted such a project on your own before. Below I’ve included steps & pictures of a project that we completed last year, to hopefully help put your mind at ease, and to give you a little encouraging nudge to try DIY…yourself!

First, you will need to pick the piece you wish to change. Here is the before picture of a great rocking chair that was in great need of upcycling:Chair (before)

Next, you enter the “idea phase,” which can be the most difficult part at times. Fortunately, there are several websites that can help if you find yourself with “creativity block.” (Pinterest, anyone…?) If you are at a total dead-end, just go to your favorite search engine and type in what you are trying to accomplish (i.e., “How to reupholster a chair”). You will probably receive more than enough great ideas for your project!

Finally: it’s time to execute your plan (and probably do a little shopping)! Our idea was to revive this piece by painting and reupholstering this rocking chair. The materials & tools that were used for this project included primer, paint, sandpaper, a staple gun and staples, screwdriver, scissors, and fabric.

Here are the steps we took:

  1. Wash or wipe down the chair to remove any old dust and dirt.
  2. Remove the seat (so it can be recovered).
  3. Apply primer to make sure the paint adheres to the chair.
  4. Once the primer is dry; paint the chair the color of your choice.
  5. After the paint is dry; lightly sandpaper the chair along the edges to give it a vintage distressed look.
  6. Finally, put the new fabric over the old seat and staple it to the underside.

And here is the finished project:

Chair (after)

Quite the transformation, right? The best part is that a project of this size can easily be accomplished in a single weekend….and of course if DIY just isn’t you, the good news is that there is almost always a new project in the works here at Common Goods, so you can shop upcycled, too! Good luck, and happy upcycling!

Get Involved with Common Goods:

  • Shop (you can always find a great “upcycled” piece like the one above).
  • Volunteer (check out volunteer opportunities on our website).
  • Donate (check out our donation guidelines).

Upcycling Tip of July

We are excited start offering up-cycling how-to instructions on our blog from Common Goods.  Each month we will give you one step by step project you can complete at home for up-cycling a piece of furniture or other items you have around your home or have purchased.  We really enjoy working on these projects and have a very gifted staff who enjoy to making these pieces new again, to offer at our store.  Volunteers also come in once a month to work on up-cycling pieces as well.  We are so blessed at our store with talented people, who love to spend time creating these pieces of furniture and decor for our customers to purchase.

The cool thing about all of these items being available to purchase is, you are supporting the work of Bridges of Hope.  Bridges of Hope is so blessed by the revenue generated from our store, which helps Bridges serve families in the Lakes area.

So without further ado, here is our first how-to project for you to try at home.

Shelving. Many of us have old, or not so pretty looking shelves around our house, garage, storage unit, etc., it is time to spruce them up!

Step 1: Decide what color you would like to paint, and then go purchase paint and necessary items to do so, as well as, a bottle of mog-podge with a brush for applying.

Step 2: Also gather pieces to mog-podge on the shelf, such as, fabric pieces, tissue paper, napkins with designs on them, newspaper and many other porous items

Step 3: clean the shelf with a damp cloth

Step 4: Paint shelf the desired color, allow to dry completely

Step 5: prepare the items you are going to mog-podge onto the shelf

Step 6: Paint on a small space of mod-podge

Step 7: place first piece of paper, napkin (seperate into two pieces by gently pulling them apart), etc., to stick on top of the mog-podge glue you just painted.

Step 8: gently brush on mod-podge over the piece

Step 9: repeat steps 6 and 7 until you have completed the areas of the shelf you wanted to mog-podge.  Optoins are: the top of the shelves alone, the entire shelf, only the top and sides, be creative the sky is the limit.

Step 10: once completed with mog-podging, let dry over night.

You are now done, and ready to place in the area you desire to display your new piece!  For extra protection to your piece, you could spray a coat of clear poly-urethane or shellac.

Here are before and after photos of one we created at Common Goods.

Before 2




Again, we are excited to offer you these tips every month.  We would also love to see the pieces you have created.  If you desire to share your pieces, please email the before and after photos to  We will occassionally post these items to our Facebook page, anonymously, for everyone to see.  Happy up-cycling everyone!


Visit our Facebook page by following this link:

To donate to Bridges of Hope follow this link:

Something for Everyone

Ever wonder where you could buy a nearly-life-sized Orangutan Puppet? What about a Snowman Pinata? A bench made from a sleigh bed?  A purse made from an old children’s book? A telescope?

If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s Common Goods! That’s right–all of these things have been for sale at Common Goods at some point in time (maybe even right now!).

Purse from Children's Book

When we say the merchandise changes every day, we really mean that–because our inventory completely depends on what we receive in donations: high-quality, gently-used housewares, clothing, and furniture from the public–from YOU. Common Goods is a community-based thrift store–and YOU make the community part happen in a big way! We are so grateful for your generosity.

Boy with Organutan

Common Goods will be celebrating its fourth anniversary this fall–four years of wonderful donations from hundreds of local donors, four years upcycling and creative re-purposing, four years of loyal shoppers, and hundreds and hundreds of hours from dedicated volunteers.

The profits at Common Goods go back to supporting the work of Bridges of Hope: helping families and individuals with whatever challenge has gotten between them and their family’s safety, stability, and success. In the last four years, that means YOU have helped make a difference in the lives of literally thousands of households here in the Lakes Area.

Sleigh Bed Bench

We have YOU to thank for so much of our success over these last four years, and we hope to continue serving families in need, the community as whole, and YOU even better in our next four years.


Through the summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day), Common Goods is open 11-5 on Sundays, in addition to our regular hours: Monday through Saturday, 10-6!

Learn more about Common Goods here.