If I were to describe my home in one word, it would be “eclectic”. It’s a melting pot of antique furniture, sitting alongside some modern items, and a fair share of homemade and up‐cycled pieces, with a big helping of vintage. It doesn’t take itself too seriously or try to follow trends. Instead, we’ve tried to create a home, which is tasteful and not too precious, not least since it has to survive 2 young children and the pets!
My style originally came about as a result of not having much to spend on furniture and furnishings and a desire to create a home that was individual and quirky. So most of the items were second hand or from ‘junk’ shops ‐ even pulled out of skips. On one occasion I pulled a perfectly good wooden kitchen chair out of a skip while on a night out, hid it in a bush, and collected it again on the way back home! And as a creative, and a compulsive crafter, there’s always an opportunity to adapt or improve in some way.
As a ‘project’ house, the renovation has provided us ample opportunity to make it unique, represent our own personal style and add to its character. I thought it might be worth giving some of my favourites a mention:
The unwanted Edwardian stained glass window above the bathroom door
Having spotted it left out for the dustmen by her neighbour, my mum suggested I go have a look and with the neighbour’s permission, I had it restored, creating a feature that brought the old and the new sides of the house together. The utility rooms beautiful original quarry tiled floor I really didn’t want to lose this when we knocked through the dining room so I lifted and cleaned the tiles and had them re‐laid in the utility room. It was painstaking work but saved us the cost of new tiles and reused an original part of the house that might have ended up in the skip!
The 1950’s aluminium kitchen sink unit fit for a chef
This really completed the rustic industrial look, as requested by my husband Rob who’s a chef. We couldn’t resist it, paying only £100 on an auction site. It’s incredibly practical with the double drainer and guests always comment on it. Definitely worth the hours of polishing and restoring it took us!
The luxury cast iron Victorian roll top bath
Purchased from a chap who was renovating an old house nearby. It has the most beautiful seashell and ball and claw feet. My dad worked hard to strip it back, treat the rust and repaint it for us. We then had it re‐surfaced and now we have a beautiful original cast iron roll top for a fraction of the price a new one.
The dresser that maybe I should have checked the sizes on!
An impulse auction site purchase. When it was delivered I realised that probably the reason no one else had bid because it was so big! Fortunately we were lucky enough to be able to design the kitchen around it, making it not only a great feature but valuable storage!
Reclaiming and restoring has been at the heart of renovating our home; floorboards became worktops, reclaimed parquet floor got a new lease of lease of life in our hallway, doors were sourced and stripped and the glass replaced, right after I taught myself to glaze. Nearly all our furniture is second hand. I take great satisfaction from making a tired item beautiful again. But I will admit, we do have our fair share of wobbly furniture.
With a little imagination and ingenuity, old becomes new. And there are a number of environmental benefits in restoring and repurposing. In an increasingly disposable society, it’s been important to me that I’m doing what I can to reduce my family’s carbon footprint ‐ something I can be almost obsessive over, as my husband will tell you! Vintage pieces contribute to better sustainability and don’t expose you to the chemicals often involved in modern furniture‐making (although be aware about flame retardancy if you are buying second‐hand soft furnishings).
Having the skills to make or restore items myself has contributed hugely to the scope of possibilities to make things for the home. I learn a lot of skills from watching videos online or by buying a book on the subject. A few years ago I did an upholstery course, which taught me the basic skills I needed to start reupholstering items myself.
So a few tips for sourcing unique quirky pieces for your home:
‐ Always keep your eyes open, you never know when you might come across something being thrown out or unwanted that would make a cool addition to your home
‐ Try to picture the potential of a piece. What could it become if it were painted, cleaned up, recovered, decoupage’d, had the legs cut off, had legs stuck on… the possibilities are endless.
‐ Don’t head straight to high street shops ‐ check out jumble sales, boot fairs, local re‐sale sites such as Preloved.
‐ Avoid buying cheap, poor quality items ‐ you’ll undoubtedly be able to find something similar second‐hand and it will probably last you longer.
If you take one thing away from this blog I hope it’s that you’re inspired to have a go at upcycling something or even just choosing a second‐hand item that you might not otherwise have considered, making it your own and incorporating it into your home. In the meantime, I’ll be cracking on with my current projects!