Vancouver Home and Design Show: Upcycle challenge accepted 0
DIY columnist Julia Dilworth repurposes this castaway Sutton Place Hotel desk for the Vancouver Home and Design Show Ultimate Upcycle Challenge. (JULIA DILWORTH/24 HOURS)
Nearly a month ago, I was asked to participate in the Vancouver Home and Design Show’s Ultimate Upcycle Challenge. With a $100 gift certificate for Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver’s ReStore, we were to find a household item and repurpose it into something wonderful. Who’s we? My stiff competition consisted of Vancouver’s top bloggers and designers Kendra Hagerman (VanCityPretty.com), Maria Killam (MariaKillam.com), Kelsey Dundon (The-Anthology.com) and Tazim Damji (BeingTazim.com).
If you’ve never been to ReStore, let me prepare you. This warehouse on 69 West 69th Ave. is wall-to-wall lamps, chandeliers, tiles, chairs, appliances, doors, dinette sets — literally everything PLUS several kitchen sinks. Picking one item to upcycle was pretty overwhelming, but my plan was to find something that, with minimal updates, could at least look respectable next to my competitors’ submissions.
A dainty chestnut desk caught my eye immediately because of its curvy legs and girly accents. The Sutton Place Hotel stationery I found in its drawer further confirmed my assumptions that it was pure quality. I knew it had to be this desk and it had to be mint.
Putting the "challenge" in upcycle challenge
Due to some poor time management on my part, as of last Thursday night I only had 12 hours to sand, prime, paint and stage my desk for publicity photos. Even now, my body hurts in ways I’ve only experienced after skiing, and I’m still scrubbing the paint off my arms and legs. However, seeing this desk’s transformation into the retro mint dream I envisioned more than made up for the paint globs in my hair. And I didn’t need a workshop to do it. Everything was done in my apartment (my neighbours love me), near an open window and over a sea of newsprint — and you can too.
Vote for the winner
My darling vintage mint desk, hereinafter referred to as ‘Mintage,’ is on display today at the Vancouver Home and Design Show at BC Place (Oct. 11-14) where it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver.
You can also see the other challengers and vote for the upcycle challenge winner here: vancouver.24hrs.ca/upcycle
- CIL ultra premium waterborne interior alkyd paint for furniture and cabinets with a melamine finish in ‘Soft Mint’ ($26)
- all purpose oil-based whole-house primer ($12)
- foam brush ($1 each)
- four piece trim set ($5)
- can opener ($1)
- as in life, dipsticks are free
- drawer handles ($3 each)
- old rags
- electric sander and/or sand paper
Desk reno how-to
- Remove drawer handles
- Sand wood (with an electric sander if you can, my hand-held one was $30 at Home Hardware)
- Vacuum and wash surface
- Apply two to three primer coats (letting it dry according to instructions)
- Apply the top coat ‘Soft Mint’ to trim
- and smaller parts with a bristle or foam brush
- Use foam roller to apply the rest of the top coat
- Let it dry for four to six hours (varies depending on your paint)
- Repeat until it’s good and minty
- Attach new handles and dance about victoriously
Tips and tricks
- To pick the appropriate primer, you should find out if the original paint coating is oil based. To do this, apply rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover with a Q-tip to a small spot. If paint comes off, it’s water based. If not, you’re working with oil.
- Cover paint tray with plastic bags so that you don’t have to keep washing it out or buying new ones.
- Paint crannies and trim before you use the roller on larger surfaces.
- Painter’s tape is your friend — use it to protect yourself from your meandering brush strokes.
- Use the roller as much as you can, and foam rollers leave a nice orange peel finish.
- If you’re working with something really dark, prime it well so it doesn’t interfere with the paint colour. Think blank canvas.
- If you get stubborn oil-based paint on your skin, olive oil and salt works like a charm.