Did you know that home ownership is an aspiration for the majority of young people? Two of my initial goals in life when leaving university were to own my own home and to be an Interior Designer.
With hard work, hard saving and a bit of luck I was able to achieve those goals relatively quickly. However once I moved into my first home, I realised what a challenge it was going to be to create my ideal interior on a somewhat limited budget.
On my journey within the design sector, I learnt a lot about the importance of sustainability and being green. Many trips to high-end furniture factories around the UK and Italy gave me an insight into how products are manufactured, disposed of and re-used for other things. The furniture industry has been hit hard by the recession; the market having changed to fit the throwaway culture of cheap and nasty mass-produced items with a two-year lifespan.
Many people look for cheaper alternatives. Not because they don’t care about the environment or how it’s made… but because they simply can’t afford to pay for expensive furniture and often value keeping up with fashion and trends over quality and sustainable design. This throwaway culture has allowed companies to create low quality, cheap fakes in china to replicate iconic and high quality brands such as Charles & Ray Eames. Not only does this tarnish the amazing brands out there that will stand the test of time, it is also detrimental to the environment with extortionate amounts of furniture ending up in landfill.
The 'millenials' are increasingly finding it harder and harder to save a deposit for that all-important purchase, never mind furnishing and then decorating their home afterwards and I understand the challenges that everyone faces.
My goal is to encourage you to save up and buy good quality furniture that will last you years and until then just make do with second hand furniture until you can afford it! You can renovate, recycle, rejuvenate, re-use and restore old pieces of furniture into something unique, stylish, and personal. At the same time as saving thousands of pounds and having a bit of creative fun, you are being good to the environment by saving someone’s old ‘junk’ from going into a landfill. This new craze has been given the term ‘upcycling’ and I have recently caught the upcycle bug!
Tips on how you can create an eco-friendly, designer style home on a tight budget through upcycling second hand furniture
Where? Visit charity shops, flea markets, building yards, old industrial warehouses, antiques shops, car boot sales or online listing sites such as Gumtree and Preloved. You’ll be surprised what amazing things you can find and it’s quite an exciting process searching for unique pieces that no one else will have.
What? You can buy all sorts of pieces of furniture such as bedside tables, beds, dining tables and chest of drawers, lights and sideboards. You can even transform things like old pallets and scaffolding boards into other things such as shelving and storage if you get your creative thinking hat on and think outside the box!
How? There is a big upcycling community out there that’s sharing their tips and advice online. Many creatives have their own blogs/businesses with upcycling tutorials and workshops that teach you the skills. The key is to experiment and not be scared to make mistakes as you can always repaint and start again! There are also online shops selling independents homemade affordable products if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
Why? At the same time as creating something stylish, unique and affordable for your home, you are breathing new lease of life into something old from an era when craftsmanship was at its best. It’s great for the environment and for your wellbeing. I’ve finally found myself a hobby and I find upcycling therapeutic; it gives me a project to focus on outside of work and then I feel proud of what I have achieved at the end. Many people feel defined by their job so it is good to find a hobby outside of work to give your life another dimension. You can either have a lovely piece of furniture to keep forever or you can change it in future or sell on to make a bit of extra cash!
When? Doing up your home is not a competition so you shouldn’t compete with others to have the best and nicest house within the quickest time frames. Keeping up with the Jones’ is so old… why would you want to copy or out-do someone else anyway? You need to be your own person, with your own unique home, done up to your own standards in your own time frames. Your interior should evolve slowly over time so don’t rush or feel the pressure to keep up with everyone else!
I am a fan of incorporating an eclectic mix of old and new for a designer style home; sourcing items from my travels, charity shops, second hands goods passed down from family members, and new cutting edge products that are made to a high quality. Join my journey in creating my own house into a home on a restricted budget. I am planning on doing some Vlog tutorials soon on my website to teach you all how to upcycle furniture. Stay tuned!
You can also see more of my upcycled items over on 'The evolution of an interior'