Friday 19 July 2013

Breathing new life into old furniture

Since moving to a 1930s house, I'm determined to furnish it with quirky, one-off pieces rather than mass produced stuff. I've already blogged about my beautiful (bargain) dining table. Now I want to show you a cabinet and shelves I recently repurposed with help from my other half. I haven't done anything fancy or ground breaking with them...but it just shows how a simple lick of paint can breathe life back into something deemed a bit 'scruffy'.

In fact the small cabinet was considered so scruffy it was making its way to the municiple tip before my Mum and husband rescued it. My Mum approached the man who was just about to fling it into the 'wood' section and he happily handed it over. They bought it home for me and declared proudly that they had 'bought me a present'. Now, I know lots of people would be a bit annoyed about their presents coming from a waste-sorting centre, but my family know me better than that...

My husband sanded it down and chiselled off the yucky cork matting which was glued to the top. It was then painted in an ivory shade and once dry, we put it in our conservatory. It's the perfect place for me to put my cup of tea and my daughter has filled it with her books. It's a sturdy, little multi-functional piece of furniture and I love it.

A few weeks back my Mum gave me a set of shelves. They had been hanging in her garage for years and were looking a bit unloved, but I could see they still had potential! We repeated the same process with the shelves as the cabinet, sanded it down and a coat of ivory paint to spruce them up a bit. They now hang in our bathroom and keep all our toiletry gubbins tidy.

Even Mr Bump is amazed by the transformation!


Since writing this blog post I have watched the first episode of "Kirstie's Fill Your House For Free". I wanted to write a quick update. I've always been keen on getting my hands on furniture for free or at a bargain price. I've been using Freecycle for years and often scour Ebay and Gumtree for second hand items for our house. I had a quick look on Twitter after the first episode had aired and there was alot of cynicism and negativity. Many people were saying the items aren't truly 'free' if you have to use power tools, paint and the skills of top designers to alter them. But I think that misses the point. This is telly-land after all and lots of these shows are based on the 'big reveal' at the end. Even by employing designers, there was nothing on the show that the average Joe couldn't replicate. Well, maybe sawing an iron bath in half with an angle grinder isn't for everyone...but most of it was pretty do-able. Some basic DIY and a bit of elbow grease is all you need to start filling your home with quirky, one-off pieces. I think any show that encourages people to re-use rather than buy new is good in my books.

What I do hope this show encourages, is not just getting stuff off freecycle etc...I hope it encourages people to donate to freecyle, charity shops, local recycling projects. We need people to think twice about taking old furniture to the tip. What's not to like about clearing your clutter via freecycle? People come and get stuff you don't want direct from your house - you don't have to lug it into the boot & drive to the local waste centre. And many charity shops & furniture projects collect items from your house for free.

In fact, after watching Kirstie's program, I was inspired to write to my local MP. I've been to our local waste recycling centre with garden waste on a number of occasions and seen wonderful pieces of furniture being chucked into the wood section. On one occasion a perfectly usuable cabinet was thrown away & I approached a member of staff to ask if I could have it. I was told that staff are not allowed to pull things out of the containers because they will get sacked for 'theft'. I think it's awful that my local council does not seem to want to send less waste to landfill. It's actively discouraging the reuse of furniture and encouraging more waste. It's a case of trying to join up the people who want to get rid of stuff with the people who want to reuse the stuff.

I'm still awaiting a response from my MP, I'll keep you posted......


Caroline said...

I love the little cabinet. I have a loft full of unloved furniture in the loft which was left when the previous owners moved out. You've inspired me to get it sorted while the weather is so good!

Me, You and Magoo said...

absolutely, this is perfect time of year to paint thing so that you don't stink the whole house out!
Check out Kirstie's new series on Channel 4 "fill your house for free"...might be some good refurbing ideas on there!

Unknown said...

Love the cabinet, what a find. Our local dump/recycling centre has an area for all unwanted items like furniture etc that you can buy for a small price. It's great, I've found some brilliant bits and bobs there. Thanks for linky up to #ThriftyThursday :-)


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