Shadow Box Diorama Nightlights

The Upcycled Man makes a lot of grown-up things. Grown-up tables and grown-up cabinets. Grown-up spice racks and grown-up mirror frames. It’s all very…grown up.

It goes without saying that we love what we do. And our materials are overwhelmingly reclaimed and salvaged. It’s part of our ethos to be responsible. But sometimes things can just be fun, entertaining or just plain silly!

John and Paul love our nightlights!

But that doesn’t mean we can’t combine our love of the bright, bold and decorative can’t also be made from found materials.

Our Inspiration

It’s been stated in previous posts that we get asked to do a lot of house and garden clearances. And we’ve also mentioned they’re not always fruitful. But a lot of the time we see a collection of things that are beautiful but their use isn’t readily apparent. So we hang onto things for a while.

Sometimes it’s Lego figures, arts and crafts materials, Christmas lights, old LPs or fabrics.

And one day it clicked. NIGHTLIGHTS! Nightlights made from reclaimed materials. Something you’d feel good about if you put it in your kids’ bedroom because it wasn’t made from cheap plastic.

But kids shouldn’t have all the fun. And that’s why we make them for adults too! Our Beatles Yellow Submarine Lego figures inspired us to make a nightlight that wouldn’t be out of place in an entertainment room or behind a home bar.

We have a stack of old LPs that are pretty much worthless. But with some creative use of heat (in the form of a blow torch) to bend a record into a groovy shape, a printed image of the Yellow Submarine album sticker. We added our figures, some bright colours, Christmas lights and some psychedelic clouds to create a 60s dreamscape and we had our funky shadow box.

And pretty soon we had our Scottish Batman Lego nightlight. Complete with sword and Batsignal!

Next was a scene from the Scottish Highlands. Carefully placed branches from felled trees, hand painted wooden deer figures and a tartan fabric moon.

A scene of contrast. Natural ruggedness and modern straight lines.

And our wee Highland Coo really inspired us to characterise Scotland’s natural rugged beauty but adding clean, straight lines we see the country’s modernity.

And by using reclaimed timber to frame these wee beauties we’re still being…grown-up.

Na na na na na na na na na BRAVEHEART!

Repurposed PepsiCo Crate Shelving Unit

I rummage. A lot. Skips, dumpster, broken furniture that’s been left on the street, warehouses, lofts, barns, sheds, workshops, cellars…

But honestly, most of the time it’s not a fruitful endeavour. Rotten wood, broken guitars, broken chipboard furniture and lots and lots of half finished DIY projects.

And on other occasions there’s good quality furniture that’s in need of a repair or some rare hardwood or something that just needs a little tlc.

And then there’s the rarest of times. When you stop something buried under a mountain of old books or records that just screams out. It may be broken or slightly rotted in parts. It may be something you can’t quite understand what you’ll do with it just yet. But it’s beauty is undeniable.

And when you see a dusty vintage PepsiCo crate that’s broken on almost every side you question your own sanity for thinking that this thing could be anything other than kindling.

But if you dream a dream etc…

That vintage logo 😍

Our most popular item to make is our pigeon hole shelving units. We make a lot simply because they’re so versatile. And really lovely. Like, REALLY lovely. They’re so cute but also have a real practical nature that have limitless applications.

And we use a variety of wood for the backing. Old oak flooring, reclaimed shed roofs, bits of old cabinets. But we’ve never had a backing with any kind of logo or lettering. Until now.

It just made sense to make use of this piece of battered old crate. It’s beautiful. It’s iconic. It’s really freakin cool!

It’s no longer used for its original use but its second chance at life might be better than its first.

So this old crate has a second chance. And it’s new life as the backing to an old unit it just wonderful.

Tropical Jungle Parker Knoll Armchair

A modern reimagining of a classic design

What to do with a classic design for a contemporary marketplace? Do you play it safe or go wild? Complimentary or contrast?

How about a little of both? Solution? A bright, vibrant tropical fabric with nods of classic 1920s indulgence.

The high back chair lends itself as a canvas to display the intricacies of the tropical design, highlighting each part of the flowers, plants, vines and cute little birds.

This Korean fabric is bold and exciting, contrasting the classic, practical nature of the armchair.

And a simple French polished finish on the wooden frame adds to the traditional look.

Mid Century Sideboard by Beautility

This is simply brilliant craftsmanship from Beautility, a pioneering family business and a precursor to Ercol, G-Plan and Stag.

This is a classic example of their ingenuity in incorporating both mid century and art deco design elements. The curvy nature is a consistent theme in Beautility furniture.

The piece has been professionally restored with modern design elements including a contemporary sage and white combination, giving a clean, crisp feel. New ceramic and brass pumpkin pulls have been added to lend a really fun element.

The original walnut veneer has been French polished to invigorate its gorgeous complex grain.

Gramophone Unit Upcycled into Drinks Cabinet

When we were contacted by a client asking if we could restore and invigorate a 1920s gramophone unit and upcycle it into a stylish drinks cabinet we really didn’t know what to expect.

Firstly, the cabinet was a solid, well made piece. It was crafted with a mix of oak, pine, mahogany and rosewood. It had all of its original parts with beautifully intricate mouldings and the wood hadn’t cracked or chipped in any significant way. And the gramophone still worked!

So, good news? Yes and no. The frame was in really good condition, less a couple of expected dinks it incurred over the last century. But arguably the cabinet’s best feature, the rosewood doors were in a bad way.

Sometime over the last 100 years the doors had succumbed to water damage. When wood has been soaked in water the damage often occurs after the water evaporates as it takes the wood’s natural oils with it, leaving the wood dry, brittle and warped. And that’s what happened here.

But we were in luck. We removed the varnish from the surface to assess the damage. Underneath shone a dusky pink wood that hadn’t seen daylight in a century and it looked glorious. But it was thirsty.

The wood desperately needed a drink. And who wouldn’t after 10 decades? So we fed it a rich, slow-curing tung oil and it soaked it up. While it was bathing in the oil, we gently clamped the rosewood to bend those warped doors back into shape. It was a slow process but the results speak for themselves.

The rest of the cabinet looked good but not as dazzling as it should. It was looking a little flat, partly because every piece of timber was the exact same shade of dark brown. We wanted to celebrate its unique form and highlight the differences between a beautifully reddish mahogany to a mellow, warm oak. We wanted to see the contrast of a glowing rosewood and a sunny pine.

But we also wanted another, bigger contrast. We wanted the cabinet to represent a period of history all about contrast. Prohibition. The world of speakeasys and gin joints. The world of a respectable exterior and a scandalous interior.

While a professional and respectful restoration was what was called for on the outside, we wanted the inside to be rebellious, rambunctious and downright raunchy!

We gave the interior a makeover any self-respecting disrespectful illicit blind tiger (speakeasy) deserved.

Tropical teal prints gave the cabinet an energetic and exotic feel while gold trims made it deep luxurious and a navy blue background leant a touch of maturity. And an LED downlight to brighten an enlighten finishes it all off.

And here we have it…

Tattoo Style Roses Farmhouse Chair

The classic farmhouse chair is timeless. Strong, aesthetically pleasing and unlikely to cause offence.

But it’s also a bit of a blank canvas waiting for energy and colour.

So we took this classic piece of dining room furniture and gave it some edge.

Floral designs aren’t resigned to your granny’s curtains. They can be modern and edgy.

By hand painting a tattoo style bouquet of roses we added a contemporary feel to a reliable pine chair.

By painting the chair in Frenchic Cream Dream chalk paint and giving it a comforting distressed look before speaking it in wax, we were able to give the feeling of familiarity. By contrasting that feeling with a bold and vibrant bunch of roses the juxtaposition of the two contrasting styles works beautifully.

Just watch out for those thorns before sitting down!

Upcycled Old School Chairs

For everyone over a certain age these chairs are instantly recognisable.

Very functional and easily stackable, these chairs were the popular choice of classrooms, church halls and community centres everywhere.

But they were gradually replaced for cheap, bulky plastic chairs with no character and sweaty-back inducing properties!

But those that survived the cull needed modernising.

So we stripped the yellowish varnish from the legs and painted the seat and back in luxuriously deep burgundy and opulent gold in a bold geometric pattern.

We love these!

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Repurposed Industrial Cable Reel Coffee Table with Steel Hairpin Legs and Custom Cut Steel Tabletop

When there’s something as brutally practical and everyday as a cable reel there’s a real temptation to hide its nature.

Maybe splash is in colour or adorn it with trinkets and baubles to mask its very functional intention.

But we went another way. We stared at the cable reel’s soul and decided to celebrate its essence. It’s a tough, hard wearing piece of equipment found on every construction site and we love what it does.

To keep its essence intact, we went for simple, clean, minimalist colours and features.

We added a sheet of custom cut steel but we didn’t polish it to a high mirror gloss. We kept it smooth, sleek and industrial.

We could’ve airbrushed the hairpin legs glossy orange or bright gold. But we kept them raw and bare.

And we finished the timber frame in a cool and stylish slate grey.

We love a cable reel and we salute its natural state.

#upcycling #handmade #recycling #diy #upcycle #zerowaste #vintage #ecofriendly #sustainable #recycle #reuse #art #design #interiordesign #upcycled #ecolifestyle #recycled #homedecor #love #interior #green #circulareconomy #glasgowfurniture #glasgowsalvage #glasgowupcycle #glasgow #glasgowhome

Upcycling the Nation