TORONTO - With an eye for affordable finds and a shared passion for restoration, Shannon and Dean Acheson's home showcases several pieces they've refurbished with a touch of creativity — and plenty of elbow grease.
Shannon says one of their most memorable do-it-yourself projects involved a dining room hutch received free from a friend of Dean's which her husband attached to a dresser they found on Kjijji.
They sanded and painted the pieces, then gave them a distressed look by sanding the edges and finishing with a glaze. Half-cup drawer pulls were added and painted along with the knobs that were on the original hutch.
"That was the first piece I think that we really went: 'Wow, we can do this, and really change how something is, and really make something out of what someone else might think of as nothing or impossible,'" recalls Shannon, who partners with Dean on the design blog AKA Design.
The Achesons are among the participants in the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge taking place during the Toronto Fall Home Show, which runs from Sept. 20 to 23 at the Better Living Centre. Bids can be placed on the restored works at www.torontohabitat.ca until Sept. 25 with proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity Toronto.
For their contribution, the Achesons transformed an old wooden door into a richly red entryway table, which included incorporating stair spindles, two brackets, crystal doorknobs and furniture and antiquing waxes.
Check out some of the many ways to upcycle everyday goods.
Gilded Moleskine Journal
Add some personality to your Moleskine by carving original gilded designs and pressing them against the journal. Head over to <a href="http://www.designmom.com/2012/09/perfect-gift-gilded-moleskine-journal/" target="_blank">Design Mom</a> for the full tutorial.
Gold Leaf Notebook
Adding gold leaf details to your journal adds a touch of style and sets it apart from others. Head over to <a href="http://www.hellolucky.com/wordpress/2012/09/05/diy-gold-leaf-notepads/" target="_blank">Hello Lucky</a> for the full tutorial.
Button & String Journal
This clever button & string journal is a craft activity that you can using raw materials. Head over to <a href="http://thecreativeplace.blogspot.com/2010/02/ive-been-trying-to-decide-on-what-to.html" target="_blank">The Creative Place</a> for the full tutorial.
DIY Striped Notebooks
You'll never guess how this blogger made these pastel colored designs. Here's a hint: they're repurposed office supplies. Head over to <a href="http://papernstitchblog.com/2012/10/17/make-this-striped-one-minute-notebooks-diy/" target="_blank">Paper & Stitch</a> for the full tutorial.
Book Binding Tutorial
This is a useful craft if you're interested in binding your own journal. You'll be able to choose from your own selection of papers and include any number of pages you'd like -- as long as the binding keeps it together, of course! Head over to <a href="http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2013/03/diy-book-binding-experience-journals.html" target="_blank">Modern Parents Messy Kids</a> for the full tutorial.
Washi Tape Journal
These journals are given a little flair using a variety of different patterned tape. Head over to <a href="http://www.designlovefest.com/2012/08/make-it-18/" target="_blank">Design Love Fest</a> for the full tutorial.
Easter Ideas: Miniature Flower Baskets
These lightweight <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/easter-ideas-tiny-flower-baskets_n_2902413.html" target="_blank">miniature flower baskets</a> are the perfect party favors for your Easter celebration.
Easter Ideas: Egg Hunt Bag
These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/easter-ideas-egg-hunt-bags_n_2917237.html" target="_blank">compact totes</a> will come in handy on your Easter egg hunt search!
Easter Ideas: Piñata Eggs
Smashing these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/25/easter-ideas-pinata-eggs_n_2945141.html" target="_blank">confetti-filled pinata eggs</a> can be a fun activity for your festivities.
Easter Ideas: Alternative Egg Crafts
Ditch the typical egg-dyeing routine and try a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/easter-ideas-alternative-egg-designs_n_2901928.html" target="_blank">different approach to glamouring your eggs</a>.
Easter Ideas: Paper Crafts
These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/easter-ideas-paper-crafts_n_2957631.html" target="_blank">adorable paper crafts</a> make for easy instant Easter decorations.
Easter Ideas: Bunny Crafts
Head over to our list of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/easter-ideas-bunny-crafts_n_2963748.html" target="_blank">Easter bunny crafts </a>that you'll want to start working on ASAP!
Yarn Decoupage Vase
Set the St. Patrick's Day mood with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/st-patricks-day-decoupage-vase_n_2853027.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">charming decoupage vases</a>.
St. Patrick's Day Candle Centerpiece
Make <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/st-patricks-day-ideas-candle-centerpiece_n_2854731.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">a candle centerpiece</a> with green split peas for St. Patrick's Day.
St.Patrick's Day Shamrock Barrette
DIY <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/st-patricks-day-ideas_n_2853111.html" target="_hplink">felt shamrock barrette </a>to show off your spirit.
St. Patrick's Day Yarn Wreath
A DIY <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/st-patricks-day-yarn-wreath_n_2831120.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">St. Patrick's Day yarn wreath</a> to start the celebration early.
Paint-Dipped Flower Vases
Make these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/10/paint-dipped-vases-spring_n_2830169.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">paint-dipped flower vases</a> that remind us of spring.
Paper Photo Lanterns
Turn paper lanterns into <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/paper-lanterns-photo-spheres-_n_2715981.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">personalized glowing photo spheres</a>.
Dress up your refrigerator with a touch of personality by adding these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/17/-refrigerator-storage-tin-magnets_n_2695726.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">DIY storage tin magnets</a>.
Relish the last few weeks of winter with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/15/diy-snowflake-votive_n_2669265.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">charming snowflake votives</a>.
Painted Vintage Silverware
Give your antique silverware a dose of personality by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/11/vintage-silverware-neon-paint_n_2663527.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">painting them with vibrant, neon colors</a>.
Reusable Fruit and Vegetable Bag
Reuse vintage flour sacks and turn them into fruit and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/reusable-vegetable-fruit-bags_n_2536944.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">veggie bags</a>.
Paint Dipped Bud Vases
Add some color to your space with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/make-paint-dipped-bud-vas_n_2530606.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">paint dipped vases</a>.
DIY iPhone Cases
Brighten up your winter by designing your own <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/21/a-diy-iphone-case_n_2517019.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">iPhone case</a>.
Retro Inspired Clock
Make these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/20/retro-inspired-clock-diy_n_2515834.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">retro-inspired clocks</a> with wood shims.
Crepe Paper Fringe String Lights
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/crepe-paper-fringe-string-lights_n_2500859.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">Make these</a> for any festive occasion.
Paint Splattered Vases
These are a throwback to the '80s and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/paint-splattered-vase-craft_n_2492400.html" target="_hplink">a blast to make.</a>
Wood Burned Sign
Make this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/wood-burning-craft_n_2482645.html" target="_hplink">cute rustic decor </a>for your next get-together.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/painted-platter-craft_n_2476038.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">Update a simple</a> plate with glass paint.
Paint Dipped Pots
This is a great way to use<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/paint-dipped-pots-craft_n_2449767.html" target="_hplink"> up those extra paint samples</a>.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/13/sequin-throw-pillow-craft_n_2449523.html" target="_hplink">This is made from</a> a forgotten piece of clothing.
Faux Malachite Hardware
You'll never guess <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/faux-malachite-knobs-craft_n_2441673.html" target="_hplink">how these are made. </a>
You can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/fabric-feathers-craft_n_2448757.html" target="_hplink">use these for countless projects</a>.
Turn <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/glitter-thumbtacks-craft_n_2434717.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">boring office supplies</a> into this.
Hand Warmers And Ice Packs
Heat them up or cool them down -- these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/hand-warmers-ice-packs-craft_n_2425960.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">hot/cold packs</a> can do it all.
Add some color to your table and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/linen-napkins-craft_n_2411487.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">never use a paper napkin</a> again!
Turn scrap fabric into a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/06/braided-rug-craft_n_2404200.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">bright and welcoming rug</a>.
Book Page Boxes
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/book-page-boxes-craft_n_2403665.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">Try this</a> instead of throwing out your old books.
Painted Votive Candles
A craft project that will <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/painted-votive-candle-holders-craft_n_2398283.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">help you unwind</a>.
Stay festive after the holidays with this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/snowball-wreath-craft_n_2389757.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">wintry wreath</a>.
Pom Pom Bookmarks
A simple way to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/01/pom-pom-bookmark-craft_n_2389135.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">never lose your place</a> in a book again!
Honey Bear Vases
An <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/craft-of-the-day-gold-honey-bear-vases_n_2094626.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">adorable way</a> to repurpose these little guys!
Polka Dot Pillowcases
These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/craft-of-the-day-polka-dot-pillowcases_n_2088768.html">spotted pillowcases</a> will help add some personal flair to your bedroom.
Add some flair to your fridge with these bright and colorful magnets.
Add some flair to your fridge with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/craft-of-the-day-neon-wood-magnets_n_2088075.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">bright and colorful magnets</a>.
Magazine Page Heart Dish
Reuse old magazines to create an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/craft-of-the-day-magazine-page-heart-dish_n_2083477.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">adorable and useful box</a> that holds jewelry or other small items.
Pumpkin Patch Fall Wreath
Keep <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/05/craft-of-the-day-pumpkin-patch-fall-wreath_n_2077058.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">the pumpkin decor</a> going throughout this fall season.
Rustic Birch Bark Candles
Add a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/craft-of-the-day-birch-bark-candles_n_2058318.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">natural look</a> to your fall table setting.
Indoor Mason Jar Herb Garden
The perfect way to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/craft-of-the-day-indoor-mason-jar-herb-garden_n_2051655.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">bring your herbs indoors </a>this winter.
Add a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/craft-of-the-day-color-blocked-coasters_n_2049875.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">splash of color</a> to your table and protect it at the same time.
Halloween Candy Printables
These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/craft-of-the-day-halloween-candy-printables_n_2041213.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">candy printables</a> were designed exclusively for HuffPost Home readers by Carla Chadwick from <a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&key=b057a0c538f3356fa4383d50d05abcbf&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F10%2F29%2Fcraft-of-the-day-halloween-candy-printables_n_2041213.html%3Futm_hp_ref%3Dhuffpost-home%26ir%3DHuffPost%2520Home&v=1&libid=1351792186409&out=http%3A%2F%2Fprintablepartykits.com%2F&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F10%2F31%2Fcraft-of-the-day-color-blocked-coasters_n_2049875.html%3Futm_hp_ref%3Dhuffpost-home%26ir%3DHuffPost%2520Home&title=Craft%20Of%20The%20Day%3A%20Halloween%20Printables%20To%20Personalize%20Your%20Candy&txt=Carla%20Chadwick%20from%20Printable%20Party%20Kits&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13517923719541">Printable Party Kits</a>!
Book Page Pumpkins
These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/craft-of-the-day-book-page-pumpkins_n_2039041.html">festive decorations</a> are perfect for the entire fall season!
Fellow challenge participant Lisa Canning coated a pair of chrome chair frames with satin black spray paint for a modern edge. She further jazzed up the slim profile seats with a hand-painted chevron pattern in purple, teal and grey. In keeping with the upcycle theme, the Toronto-based interior stylist painted the print on a textured wallpaper remnant from a past client's project.
The mother of three and owner of Lisa Canning Interiors has also put upcycling into practice at home.
Canning's four-month-old son is using an Ikea crib first purchased for her three-year-old son which was spraypainted a soft grey. She says the change not only modernized the piece but also better weaves into the design colour scheme of the room the boys will share as the baby gets older.
For individuals seeking to refurbish a piece, Canning says the first thing to look at is structure and ensuring there's integrity in the frame.
"If you're talking about a hard furniture item, like a chair, for example, or a table, you want to make sure that it hasn't been too horribly exposed to the elements," says Canning, market editor for Dabble Magazine.
"I think with the naked eye many people could get a sense (of): 'Does it look like it's rotting at all? ... Does it feel sturdy?'" she adds. "Screws can be tightened, screws can be adjusted ... but I think testing the overall sturdiness of it is a really big first step."
Acheson says if individuals don't have the skills to fix a piece they should ensure they select one that's already solid — even if it's scratched. If still uncertain, Canning says it's worth consulting a furniture upholsterer or restorer to see if it's actually worth sprucing up.
Not every item may be befitting restoration, but that will all depend on the individual — especially when it comes to items of sentimental value.
"For some people, the cost of restoring it is totally appropriate and they're not going to feel that it isn't worth the money or the time. But you do have to take a look at what it is going to cost," says Canning. "I think sometimes people forget: 'Oh, it will take me four hours to upholster this,' or 'It will take me $400 to send to an upholsterer.' I think it is on a case-by-case basis."
Both DIYers agree individuals should turn a blind eye to design elements that can be easily altered.
"Look past the colour ... and look past whatever hardware happens to be on it, whether it's something that has knobs or handles. Look past that to the overall shape of it," says Acheson, author of the e-book "Welcome Home."
"You can change the colour and you can change the hardware and make it look fabulous."
Canning says she draws a lot of inspiration from fabric and wallpaper.
"Textiles can play a really fun, engaging story in a space because with the variety of patterns and colours, you can really influence the mood."
In reupholstering a chair with a wood frame, for example, Canning suggests pulling one of the hues from the fabric pattern and using it as the paint colour for the chair frame for a cohesive look.
Acheson says she and Dean use their sander fairly frequently, but as fans of the modern country esthetic, she opts for a sandpaper and sanding block more often than not to create a distressed look.
If they're working on a piece that requires a considerable amount of sanding, Acheson says she starts with a really coarse grit and works her way down towards a finer grit. Finishing paste and waxes are also used to bring out layers, she notes.
Acheson says spraypainting candlesticks is a good starting project. Lamps are also fairly easy as well — providing that individuals select one in good shape where electrical components aren't a concern.
Canning says creating a pillow is another good entry-level project, which can also entail repurposing an old piece of clothing as a fabric source. She has aspirations to do something similar with some of her grandmother's scarves.
For those averse to sewing or whose stitching skills may not be up to par, Canning says hem tape can be a good alternative. The double-sided adhesive available at fabric and craft supply stores allows individuals to fuse two layers of material together using a hot iron.
"Even if it's just the introduction of a small pillow or the introduction of a trim on a drape ... it makes the space look very unique to the individual's home, to the individual's taste," she says. "That's a fun way to make a space feel really your own."
AKA Design: www.akadesign.ca
Lisa Canning Interiors: www.lisacanning.ca
Toronto Fall Home Show: www.fallhomeshow.com