It’s a sunny Tuesday morning when we meet Marianne in her Lichtenberg studio. Her calling: to save all abandoned and broken-down furniture with a healthy dose of creativity and an equal amount of good humor.

What is your background?

“After ten years as an editor and journalist, I decided to pursue my passion: breathing new life into old furniture.

It all started with my father who worked as a handyman. Before long, I was fiddling with furniture I had found on the street and in flea markets.”

“I restored my first secretary at the age of 14 and haven’t looked back since. Eventually, some friends began asking me to restore pieces for them. That’s where it all started for me.

Fast forward to today and I have my own workshop and am selling my work to people in Berlin.”

What advice would you give to breathe new life into your furniture?

“I think, above all, the most important thing to remember is: ‘It is within everyone’s reach!’ I learned on the job and I think everyone is capable of actualizing the furniture of their dreams.”

Step

1

Choosing the right furniture

First and foremost, you must like the general shape of the furniture. If this is your first piece of furniture, it is also best to have an idea of what you want to do with it.

Step

2

Find a space to get dirty and the right equipment

You need a space that can get dirty (an unused room, garage, balcony…) and a well equipped toolbox (sander, nails, screws, screwdrivers etc…). In the beginning, I used my living room and protected the floors. Or you could start in a workshop already outfitted with all the necessary materials.

Step

3

Unleash your creativity!

I recommend having an idea in mind before you start tackling an old piece of furniture. Once you have a clear idea – let yourself go! All colors are allowed. My last piece of advice would be to keep your screws and nails from your dismounted furniture in a plastic bag or empty jam jars. This will come in handy when you’re finished repainting and ready to reassemble your furniture.

What process do you use?

“Mainly, I take furniture that’s already in good condition. Then there are the two main steps that are key to restoring furniture: sanding and painting.”

Sanding: There are several methods but the one I use most frequently is sanding by hand because the furniture is often made with plywood and has rough edges. 

If the wood is not completely smooth, the electric sander could damage the furniture.

Painting (chalk-based): The paint I use is natural. I advise you to do a test swatch of the color on the wood before painting the furniture in case it’s not how you imagined. Note: the color of the paint can sometimes vary depending on the color of the piece on which it is applied.

An anecdote to finish?

“I often find labels on the furniture that bring me to another time. Like the one on this piece of furniture, which was stamped with the brand Koronette. After doing some research, I discovered that Koronette was producing furniture for East Berlin. Typical furniture from the GDR like a cocktail bar with a fake fire!”

What is a sustainable piece of furniture for you?

“Sustainable furniture is recycled furniture. Why cut down trees when we already have available and abundant resources?”

About the author
Juliette Lebre

Juliette Lebre

Juliette is the founder of We Design Green. A lover of nature with a passion for beautiful design.
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