My first piece that involved upcycling was a small pine corner unit that had been gathering dust at my parents' house for as long as I can remember. I had been looking for a corner cupboard for the tiny bathroom at my new house and all the ones I could find online either had built in external mirrors or were made of plastic or MDF which didn’t quite fit with my house décor. So after measuring the space, I made the unit smaller, built an extra shelf and added hinged cupboard doors. I then sanded the unit back past the varnish and painted it in a lovely neutral Laura Ashley paint (Mink). I fixed it onto the wall in the bathroom and I was delighted with the result.
I needed a trunk for my living room that could also double up as an extra seat for the kitchen table and so this became my second project. I used a crate, well over 30 years old, that a church down the road had given to a friend. All the extra materials used to put this together were found at my dad and grandad's workshops which included old hinges, corner plates, trunk handles, an old hasp and staple and a padlock. It took a considerable amount of time for me to clean the wood and make it smooth, which involved a variety of techniques, but I eventually perfected it and put the whole thing together. It now takes pride of place in my living room at Corner Cottage. This trunk took a lot of time to make, but, like all my pieces, it is completely unique. I have tried to replicate this approach with other projects, for example the wooden trunks I make all have ironmongery sourced from a variety of locations, and most have a vintage feel to them.
There's much more evidence of this throughout my home, but the biggest upcycling project was my kitchen. I bought vintage oak countertops and a new Stoves Oven, but the rest was all simply done-up using what was already there. All the cabinets were re-sprayed (a tricky job - if only I knew of Annie Sloan paint at this stage!) and I managed to source individually hammered iron handles which looked brilliant against the newly sprayed cream cupboards. It several weekends to complete the kitchen, with some free family labour, and the end result was a real transformation - it was brilliant to be able to upcycle all of the cabinets instead of wasting perfectly good wood.