Upcycling blog: ‘From Dumbarton Road to baby Ava, with elbow grease – and love X’

By Becky Donnachie at

When you’re buying for a special little somebody, you need to look in a special place.

And like my wonderful niece Ava Juliet, charity shops are a thing of beauty – when you’re an upcycler

Take the Salvation Army outlet on Dumbarton Road.

Auntie and niece

Happy: Ava is all smiles when Auntie gives her a hug.

It gets deliveries of unloved and unwanted goods from house clearances up to four times a day.

What’s more, it’s filled with furniture that is just desperate for me to winch it with my chalk paint-covered brush.

I bought my latest project in here for a mere £10.

It’s a beautiful solid wood storage box that was slightly marked all over – but nothing my trusty sander couldn’t sort out.

Storage box

Raw material: Take one unloved plain box and make it better.

I bought it with an ulterior motive; my cheeky wee niece was about to celebrate her very 1st birthday.

And because I prefer to spend my money on chocolate and carbs, I thought I’d do the penny pinching thing and make Ava a present – a personalised toy hamper.

As I said, the box was marked. So, I got it straight out the back with my electric sander and set about it.

I stripped all the varnish and built-up dirt off, to take it right back to the original wood grain.

Simple but effective. It was a beauty.

Dog with wooden box

Attention: ‘Look what I did, mummy’ – all sanded smooth.

I’ve said in my previous blogs that prepping the furniture is an absolute must.

If you are going to take the time to sand something, take a decent amount of time and sand it properly.

The difference this makes to a finished project is unbelievable.

And since this project was going to my little best pal, I wanted it to be perfect.


After all, in 18 years when I become Patsy Stone, she could be setting me up with her male pals. I need to keep her sweet.

After the sanding was done I started with the painting. I chose white as it would go with her room.

My sister (Ava’s mum) wanted it all painted white, but I chose to ignore her, (like I normally do) and keep the lid as the natural wood.

For a change, I’m trying a new brand of furniture paint which is from B&Q’s colours range and I went for the colour Chantilly (slightly off white) in the silk.

Paint tub

Top finish: This paint from B&Q did the job.

It’s faring well so far and only needs one coat. It’s not as thick as chalk paint, but still offers very good coverage.

For the lid I simply gave it a wax with Rustolem clear finishing wax.

Slap it on with a clean cloth and give it ten minutes to dry before buffing it off. It protects the wood and the paint and gives it a lovely natural finish.

To personalise it for the little monkey I went into Cass Art on Queen Street and bought her name in letters.


Signature: Painted letters give a personal touch to the right type of furniture.

Approval: And little Ava Juliet likes what she sees from her auntie.

I painted them with Wilkos duck egg blue which is quite a strong bold colour.

When it dried, I sprayed the edges with enamel spray paint in gold from Halfords which gave it a more metallic look.

Next I glued the letters on to the middle of the box using Gorilla Glue which literally sticks anything.

If Ava ever wants to remove these letters she’ll have to chew them off. Which to be honest with her is probably going to happen at some point.

Wooden box

Finished: Fit for a princess.

And so we have it. Baby Ava’s first birthday present from her most favourite auntie in the world.

Absolute bargain from the Sally Army which no doubt will last her a lifetime.

Happy birthday wee chunk! Love you Ava xxx.

* You can purchase items directly from Becky or you can ask her questions about upcycling via her Facebook page The JunkTrunk Glasgow or instagram page