Real Estate

before and after magic makeovers by the duo from norsu interiors

Written by The ReReport

A real beauty: an old chair was given this modern new look. Pictures of upcycled pieces, plus portrait: Amy Whitfield

THE eco benefits of upcycling are well known.
But another bonus of transforming an old item into something useful or beautiful is the satisfaction of knowing you have created a unique piece that suits your own style.
Nat Wheeler and Kristy Sadlier from Melbourne’s Norsu Interiors store know this all too well.
“We love the journey that you can go on when upcycling furniture,” Ms Sadlier said. “To us, there’s something incredibly exciting about taking a tired old piece of furniture and giving it a brand-new lease on life.”
The pair is taking part in this year’s Feast Watson Re-Love Project for the third year running.
The project, in its sixth year, challenges a group of Australian designers to upcycle preloved timber pieces using Feast Watson wood-care products to raise money for charity.

Nat Wheeler (left) and Kristy Sadlier, from Norsu Interiors.

What they used

When Ms Wheeler and Ms Sadlier spotted an original mid-century Danish chair on eBay, they quickly snapped it up. They also bought a mid-century bar stool from the same seller that they thought would work well as a side table and fit in with their aesthetic.
“We wanted something that was original and Danish to stay true to our Scandi heritage, and these two popped up and we loved them,” Ms Sadlier said.
“Also, we loved the fact the transformation would be quite dramatic.”

Red hot: the chair in its original state.

And this was the stool.

Their biggest challenge was discovering, after a lot of sanding back, that the chair’s original wood was teak, not the blonde oak they were hoping for.
But with a change of product, they were able to get the look they wanted (see details under ‘Chair’ below).
Meanwhile, retro timber homewares — a platter, bowl, coasters and jewellery box — were found at Waverley Antique Bazaar, in Glen Waverley.
“I spent hours there, having so much fun scouring, and we picked up some real gems,” Ms Sadlier said.

Blast from the past: the four pieces unearthed at Waverley Antique Bazaar.

Here, the dynamic interiors duo share their steps to the makeovers of all the pieces.


• Remove the original woollen fabric from the chair seat and back.
• Sand the piece to get a sense of the timber hiding beneath.
• Apply three coats of stain. To lighten the teak wood, the Norsu Interiors duo chose Feast Watson Stain and Varnish Liming White in Natural Buttercup.
• Lightly sand the chair to get a matt finish.
• Have it reupholstered in grey wool fabric and a blush-coloured leather trim.

Beyond the pale: the chair’s sophisticated reincarnation.


• Remove the top of the stool and have it reupholstered in blush-coloured leather.
• Sand the frame to remove the orange varnish.
• Cut down the legs to make the piece the right height for a side table.
• Apply three coats of Feast Watson Liming White Floor Finish in Scandinavian Light.
• Finish the piece by refitting the upholstered leather top.

The stool is now a pretty side table.


• Sand to remove any varnish.
• Create lines of varying widths along the whole platter using masking tape.
• Apply Feast Watson Oil Based Liming White over the platter.
• Seal the platter with Feast Watson Clear Varnish in Matt Finish.

The lines were created with the help of masking tape.


• Sand to remove any varnish.
• Apply Feast Watson Water Based Liming White with a rag so it seeps into the cracks and adds depth to the bowl.
• Sand lightly over the top of the bowl to dull the sheen.

A soft sheen now graces the bowl.


• Sand to remove any varnish.
• Create a blush-coloured paint using Feast Watson Oil Based Liming White and Feast Watson Prooftint in Cedar.
• Apply this bespoke colour to the centre of the coasters using a fine paintbrush.
• Finish off with Feast Watson Clear Varnish in Matt Finish.

On trend and ready for drinks.

Jewellery box

• Sand to remove any varnish.
• Apply several coats of Feast Watson Black Japan Prooftint with a rag.

The dark side: the box’s smart new shade.

Upcycling tips

• Select a quality piece of furniture. Nothing compares to a well-constructed piece.
• Experiment with a few different finishes and colours you might normally shy away from.
• Take time to prepare the piece well.
• Make sure you love your piece before you start, as you often need to invest a lot of time in transforming it.
Source: Kristy Sadlier and Nat Wheeler

Charity auction

Bid on these items upcycled by the Norsu Interiors duo, as well as those by other designers, at the Feast Watson Re-Love Project’s auction, which will be live on Instagram from October 23-26. To date, more than $30,000 has been raised by the project for various Australian charities. View all the finished works on Feast Watson’s website ( or Instagram (@feast_watson).

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