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Module 1: Sourcing and Selecting Furniture

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Sourcing and Customising Furniture

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How to customise furniture
If the client’s budget allows, you can source custom furniture from individuals and companies around the world. However, a cheaper alternative is to customise ready-made furniture. The following is a list of techniques you can use to make a standard piece of furniture into a unique piece:-
Painting: The easiest way to change the appearance of a piece of furniture is to paint it. Apply a suitable primer first, particularly if the surface you will be painting is uneven. Matching the colour to other pieces in a space can integrate an otherwise mismatched item into the décor. Make sure that the primer is compatible with the type of paint you intend to use.
Recovering: If you have found a sofa or armchair that is a good fit for a space but is in a colour that just doesn’t fit with your vision, buy some fabric and make a simple cover. If you have some sewing skills, then you should be able to do this within a few hours. Alternatively, it is simple to outsource the job to someone who is comfortable working with soft furnishings. Make sure that the fabric you choose is not only a suitable addition to the room’s colour scheme, but is also in a texture that fits with the other elements contained within your design.
Adding new handles and knobs: Changing handles and knobs is a simple way to elevate the look of a piece of furniture. Visit flea markets, charity shops and online auctions, to find fixtures to completely change the overall aesthetic of a piece of furniture.
Add a new surface layer: Fixing a thin layer of wood, plastic, or even metal to a piece of furniture will change how it feels, how it looks and the way in which it reflects or absorbs light. You may need to cut the new surface layer to fit.
Build it up or cut it down: Reducing the height of a wooden table, stool, or any other item with legs is simple – establish how tall you want the piece of furniture to be and then cut off the length as required. Be aware that if you do not remove exactly the same amount of material from each leg, the end result will be uneven. If you want to increase the overall height of a piece of furniture, you can add material or even other pieces of furniture to the top or bottom. For example, if you would like to increase the height of a bookcase, you could improvise by placing it on top of a simple wooden unit and then painting both items in the same colour to unify the look.
Use a stencil or attach a decal: A stencil allows you to create a repeating pattern on a surface. Once you have painted a piece of furniture, you can then use either a ready-made stencil to customise the item, or you can fashion your own designs from sturdy cardboard or thin plastic. Stencils can create a multitude of looks, from simple geometric patterns to intricate designs. They are particularly popular in children’s bedrooms and playrooms.  
Use decoupage: Decoupage is the term given to the practice of applying paper-based pictures to an item and then securing them in place with clear varnish to protect the design. Regular PVA glue, available from craft stores, is usually strong enough to affix the pictures to the furniture. You can find suitable pictures in magazines and old books, or you can use wrapping paper, origami paper, tissue paper, or any other similar material that will give the furniture a new lease of life. Use sharp scissors and a craft knife, to ensure that the images have clean edges. Apply the paper slowly and carefully, smoothing out all wrinkles before leaving the glue to dry.
Activity: Using Decoupage on a Coffee Table
(Time: 15+ Minutes)
Visit an online auction site and find a listing for an old coffee table. Imagine that you had been asked to improve its appearance using decoupage. What kind of patterned paper or images would you use and why?
Use a piece of furniture in a new or unusual way: Taking a piece of furniture out of its usual context will make it seem a little more interesting. For example, old storage crates can be positioned together in pairs and made into a table with the addition of a clear glass sheet. Old, ornate tables can be painted in bold colours, given a coat of high-performance gloss and then used outside on patios and balconies. Discarded doors can be cleaned, varnished and then positioned so that they become bedroom headboards. To create a small, quirky table that is highly movable, affix some small wheels to the bottom of a storage basket. This setup provides a surface area for reading and resting drinks and also contains a useful place in which clutter can be hidden. You can also turn accessories into furniture. Old, varnished wooden stepladders can make interesting bedside tables and two or three suitcases stacked on top of one another can serve the same purpose.