How to Make Money Upcycling Furniture [Side Hustle Case Study]

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Here’s the next installment in our side hustle case study series, where real people share how they make extra money in their spare time!

In this post, Steph from Debt Free Family is sharing her cool and creative side hustle – upcycling and selling second hand furniture.

Here’s how she does it:

How to make money flipping furniture

A person painting a piece of furniture beside the text: "How I make money upcycling furniture as a side hustle" in front of a brown-painted drawer.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your side hustle.

I’m Steph, a mum of 3 and owner of Debt Free Family, a blog where I write about my family’s journey with money. One of the ways I’ve made some extra money over the last few years is by upcycling old furniture and then reselling it.

Sometimes I go and look for furniture and other times I just come across something that someone’s throwing out, but I always look for solid wood, well made pieces, no matter what state they’re in! 

How long have you been doing your side hustle? How did you get into it?

I first started upcycling furniture about 6 years ago. I didn’t plan on selling the pieces I upcycled to start with. I was furnishing our own home and couldn’t find the pieces I wanted at reasonable prices we could afford and I try not to add to the ‘throw away’ culture of modern furniture.

When I found a beautiful old pine chest of drawers someone had badly covered in white paint, I knew I could sand it back and it’d be exactly what I was looking for!

Sanding that chest of drawers took me forever, but I’ve since learned some techniques to speed it all up a bit!

I actually sold that chest of drawers about 6 months after it was finished as I’d found another one that fit better in our house, and made £108 ($140) profit!  I then realised this could be quite a lucrative side hustle idea that fit in beautifully around the kids’ busy schedules! 

What does the work actually involve? What does a typical day/work session look like for you?

My upcycling ‘speciality’ is bringing old pieces of furniture back to their original glory. My favourite pieces of furniture are ones that were painted during the ‘shabby chic’ furniture phase of the 2000’s.

This was where people painted wooden furniture and then distressed it to make it look old. Done well, it can look beautiful. Done badly, it’s the perfect piece for me to upcycle!

Once I’ve found a piece I like, the first thing I do is make sure it’s solid wood. I do this by checking the joins and looking for chips and scratches. These often reveal what’s underneath the surface. I want it to be solid wood!

I then start to take off the old paint. I use a paint stripper these days, as sanding alone is time consuming and really messy!

You always need to be in a ventilated area when using a paint stripper. I wait for a dry day and do it in the garden, making sure no children or animals can get to it!

After the old paints off, I then use a rough sander to get all the last bits and pieces of paint off, followed by a fine sand until the wood is silky smooth.

Lastly, I use a wax to seal the wood. Sometimes I replace drawer handles but I prefer to keep the pieces as close to it’s original state as possible.

How much can you make doing this side hustle?

That’s a hard question to answer as there are so many variables! If I can get a piece of furniture for a rock bottom price, or even better, free, then of course my profit is higher.

The best places to get very cheap pieces are home clearance shops or charity shops. Occasionally they’ll be small pieces at car boot sales or friends will ask if I want something they’re about to chuck out!

As a rough guide, I make an average of £70/80 ($90-$100) per item, and that’s after I’ve bought paint stripper and sanding pads.

Are there any start-up costs and/or ongoing expenses with this side hustle?

Although it’s not essential, having a sanding ‘mouse’ makes life a lot easier when you’re sanding your item. I’d suggest finding a small item to start with, something like a bedside table so you don’t need much paint stripper if that’s the way you decide to go.

Wax to seal the wood is important and so make sure you get a decent one. It’s about £10 for a tin and the’ll last for about 3-4 small pieces of furniture.

That’s about it.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to get started?

Start small and with a simply made item. I love old furniture that’s simple and functional, but there are so many different styles. Once you know what you’re doing on the basic pieces,  find a style you love and you’ll enjoy working on every item.

Where can we find you?

If you’d like to follow my family’s journey to getting debt free you can find me over at, or on Pinterest at

Thank you Steph! 

I loved learning about this side hustle idea. Restoring old furniture to flip could be a fun and creative way to make money for anyone who likes getting their hands dirty.

Want more work from home ideas? You can find the other posts in the side hustle case studies series here.

I’m currently looking for more contributions to this series! If you have a unique side hustle you’d like to share, please contact me and let me know what it is!

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Illustration of two people refurbishing a dresser. Text reads: "How I make $100/item in my spare time upcycling furniture. #SideHustle