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Go Green: Repurpose Old Furniture

The 411 from Stacey Zarrelli of Refabed Chic.


We've all heard the saying, "Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse." With the ever-increasing efforts to preserve our planet, we constantly need to find new ways to live that mantra.

These days, thanks to Pinterest, we have access to an abundance of DIY repurposing ideas — and if you have the time for these projects, they can be a fun way to "go green." If you don't have time for a project like this, you can turn to the experts.

That's where Fairfield County resident Stacey Zarrelli comes in. Stacey is the founder of Refabed Chic, a company she started to help others interested in "making something old new again." Stacey specializes in antiques and upcycled furniture, which means she can take your old stuff and make it look brand new!

We sat down with Stacey for the scoop on this environment-conscious trend that's been sweeping the world one Pinterest board at a time.

How did you first get started refinishing old furniture?

For me, it was when I was in my late teens to early twenties living at home with my mother. Her taste was so different from mine that my bedroom became my own vignette. I loved redesigning my space, adding new curtains, changing the bedspreads and rugs but eventually that all got boring when I had to look at the same furniture every day. That’s when I first got into painting. I stenciled my twin headboard. I purchased black iron sconces that I spent days sanding with a Dremel and then painted an antique white and gilded them with gold wax. That was my first taste at decorating and painting.

Then my mother passed and life got busy and I stopped painting all together. I took it up again last year when my husband, Tom, and I put a new kitchen in our condo. We had bought about four to five paint samples for the walls and I hated them going to waste so I drove over to my storage unit with all my treasured (unfinished pieces that I picked up years ago waiting to be touched) and got my pie crust table out. That was the first piece I had painted in almost ten years. The joy I got from that was amazing. I actually listed the piece on Craigslist but quickly took it down as I couldn’t part with it quite yet. After all, it was the piece that got me painting again!

What's the strangest item you have repurposed?

I just haven’t done anything like that [yet!]. However, I’d love to get my hands on an old sewing table and turn it into a cooler. I’m also dying to paint my childhood piano. Waiting till we move to do that as it’s currently in storage but the thought of a turquoise piano excites me. Although, by the time we move I might want to make it green! We’ll see!

Where does your inspiration and vision for each piece come from?

Pinterest is my go-to. I love lying in bed at the end of my day looking at painted furniture. I can’t say I get a vision and run with it. For instance when I bought my provincial desk my initial thought was to staining the top Jacobean and paint the body coco. I hit it with the stain and immediate changed my mind. My desk is a prime example of my flow. Unless I’m working on a specific piece for someone, I just go with my mood and my feelings at the time. My initial vision of my coco desk with a dark stained top turned into a grey crackled top with any off white based and a grey wash with pure white hardware. Completely different from what I initially envisioned. Now I couldn’t envision it any other way.

Approximately how long does it take you to complete one time of furniture from start to finish?

Every piece is different depending on my mood, my time and what the piece is. I can crank it out in a day or do it slowly over a few weekends.

Stacey working on upcycling a chair.

Where are some of the places you found old furniture to upcycle?

I don’t have a specific place that I get my pieces from. I’m an early bird on Saturdays and I hit up estate sales and tag sales looking for hidden treasures that I can claim. I also go to consignment shops and check Craigslist and Facebook. My sister, Jill, helps out a lot. She’s also on Facebook tagging me for pieces that she thinks I’d want. Then all I need to do is pick it up. With the help of some family it makes my job a bit simpler.

What is your favorite part of the process?

My favorite part of the process is really two-fold. First when I get the piece I’m so stoked. Second when it’s completed. I guess my favorite part is truly the before and after. And putting the first coat of paint on the piece. When the vision really starts to become the reality.

Check out Refabed Chic on Etsy to see Stacey's work, or contact her if you have furniture to recycle!

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