Upcycling in W12 with Petit Miracles – An inspired Mother’s day present – Guest Blog

In the days before the word upcycling had been dreamt of, I was hard at work with a paintbrush, slapping the wrong paint onto unprepared surfaces, covering walls and furniture with wonkily aligned stencilling and generally making everyone wish I’d just left things alone.

This is what my son Ben was channelling when he booked me into an upcycling workshop. He got the idea past my creative sensitivities by saying it was a belated Mother’s Day treat.

Arriving for the workshop

And so we turned up for one of the Saturday workshops at the Petit Miracles hub in Shepherds Bush’s W12 Shopping Centre. Our little group had grown to four with daughter Georgina and Ben’s girlfriend Kirsty, also keen to release their hidden upcycler.  Read more

If you love books, this is a stairway to heaven – Guest blog by Toni

Although these stairs may look difficult, I can assure you, the hardest part was taking up the carpet to see what lay beneath! Living in a Victorian house, I had absolutely no idea what I might find. Although I didn’t find any secrets ‘swept under the carpet’, I did find numerous layers of paint!

After the initial shock {and a cup of tea} I tried a few methods to remove the paint.

Firstly, I tried paint strippers, far too messy and time consuming. So I decided a sander would be a much better option.

Because I wanted to varnish the treads, I had to make sure every trace of paint was removed, but for the risers as long as the finish is smooth, it should be ok.

Once all the paint’s removed have another cuppa, and give yourself a pat on the back! All the hard work’s done! Now you need to decide on a theme.

I chose my favourite books, but it can work just as well with films / CD’s etc.

Decide on a colour scheme {I tried to stick as close to the book covers as I could} This bit is relatively easy and cheap, paint your risers. I used sampler match pots for each stair.

Varnish the treads, for another option, paint the treads the same colours as your risers. {but for this option you will still need to coat the treads with a few coats of clear varnish}

Finally, the decals… I would like to take credit for the decals {book titles} but it has to go to an amazing woman on Pinterest. I emailed her the book titles I wanted and she found each book online so that she could match the font exactly.

Once they arrived, they were easy to apply. They are on tracing paper, so it’s just a case of putting in position and rubbing with a credit card until they stick.

Job done…now make a nice cup of tea and sit back and admire your work!

Thanks to Toni Connolly for this guest post
Follow her on instagram: @toni_connolly63


Guest blog – my experience of a Petit Miracles Upcycling Workshop

1888e80 Petit Miracle Workshop – Guest Blog

Kindly written by Christina @cbtravelbug

Take some tired brown furniture, five willing participants and a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll get… five transformed chairs in a paintbox palette ready to go on sale for a good cause. Here’s how it was done:

Workshop manager Iyoub explained our goal for the the afternoon: a brief introduction to upcycling. We’d learn a new skill and Petit Miracles would get some new furniture for their treasure trove of a shop in West 12 Shopping Centre.

20150418_124954 The upcycling process:

First step: Pick a chair. These were old oak ones, probably from a school or a church hall. Check it is sturdy and sound before you start. There’s no point in painstakingly transforming a rickety old wreck, until it has been mended.


Wash it down with sugar soap. It’s really important to remove all grease, grime and dust to give the paint the best chance of adhering. Make sure the cloth is damp but not drenched, because the wood will absorb the moisture.

The difficult bit: choose a colour. We were using Annie Sloane’s chalk paint. The advantage here is that it doesn’t need a primer or base coat, compared to emulsion, which can be a much more laborious process. The boys went for bright colours, the girls went neutral and classy… just saying.

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Shake the paint can so the colour is even, open it up carefully and give it a good stir. Mix in a tiny bit of water if necessary, so the consistency is like double cream.

Flip the chair over and start painting the underside first. Start on the part furthest away from you so you aren’t leaning over your work and getting splodges of paint on your clothes. Don’t go overboard with the paint. Start near the edge and work paint to the ends carefully. Try not to let it bleed over the sides, that will just mean more sanding later.

Once the whole underside is done, flip the chair back over and finish the top side. Some colours will need more coats than others. To get to this stage took around two hours.

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Next, you need to sand to get the smoothest finish you possibly can. This can take minutes or hours. We were going for a shabby chic look, so as well as sanding the paint down everywhere, the areas which would naturally get the most wear and tear needed a bit of extra attention.

On chalk paint, we used P240 sandpaper. It’s really fine, and you work gently, applying pressure in the direction of the grain of the wood. The paint goes as soft as silk once it is done: check your work by touch. I sanded a bit extra on the raised part of the seat to give a slightly more worn look.

Gently wipe away the chalk dust with a damp cloth.


closeupchair The next stage is to apply the wax. This helps seal in the paint and protect it. It also darkens the colour slightly. Again, we used Annie Sloan wax. With a brush or a cloth, you get a tiny dab on your finger and rub it into the paint. Work in small sections and make sure it spreads consistently across the wood. You don’t need as much as you think you do. The left section has been done here: you can see how it makes the colour darker and shinier.

Final stage: buffing

With a clean cloth, you rub that wax until it shines and all the excess has been absorbed. It’s elbow grease that’s required, no two ways about it. Check it with the back of your hand: you shouldn’t feel any residue if it is properly absorbed.

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image2 Finished products:

I loved my afternoon at Petit Miracles: I saw how with a little care and effort you can transform drab old furniture into something contemporary and personal. What’s more, this social enterprise provides work for the long-term unemployed and teaches new skills to those who want to learn. I thoroughly recommend getting involved.

Workshops run on the first and second Saturdays of each month. The three hour session including all materials and tuition costs £45 per person.

Thank you for writing and sharing your blog and photos Christina!

Book your place:


If you would like to blog for us please get in touch: marketing@petitmiracles.org.uk