Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Unleash your entrepreneurial spirit with something pre-loved...

For many, January is a time to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and consider ways to turn a hobby into a business opportunity or crack the work/life balance. I've lost count of how many friends are up-cycling or working their magic on some tatty, second-hand piece of furniture in a quest to turn it into something truly marvellous. In reality, people tend to buy something cheap of poor quality, give it a half-hearted rub down, slap on some eco-paint (usually in an earthy, heritage shade) and convince themselves that once they've worked their magic on a few pieces they might develop some kind of portfolio and might just be the next Sir Terence Conran.

Yeah right. I don’t mind having a go, but I am realistic about my DIY capability! I know my limits and I'm happy to admit that whilst I enjoy great interior design and beautiful furniture, my skills very much lie in the buying arena! I’m a self-confessed shopaholic who once believed that 'Screw Fix' was a shop for deprived housewives! The idea of rummaging around an antique centre or trying my luck at an auction is a real turn on, but in reality, whilst I can see the potential in a pre-loved chaise longue, I wouldn't know where to begin with any kind of make-over project.

My other half, Jim, gets his kicks from a serious sofa transformation project. Take the William IV mahogany scroll end sofa below which we bought at an auction recently. It was filthy, wobbly and certainly needed some serious stripping and stuffing! He took it back to the frame, re-upholstered it using a lavish Designers Guild fabric (Asolo Berry) and created a pair of contrasting bolsters in Genova Ebony fabric. This bespoke hand-finished piece stands on turned legs and features the original brass casters.
Jim is at a distinct advantage with over 20 years’ traditional upholstery experience, but I am still heavily involved in choosing fabrics, immersing myself in trends and meeting new suppliers. Come on, how could I resist creating a role that combines shopping and talking?

I’m fascinated by the various stages of a renovation project and these fabulous ‘before’ and ‘after’ images below show how much work is involved in creating something stunning for a fine home or boutique hotel. Here's how this particular project was tranformed:
You can see more sofa transformations at:

Why not give something old a new lease of life? But a word of warning: the term ‘second-hand’ is old hat; everything is ‘pre-loved’ or ‘up-cycled’ these days! And there’s nothing wrong with lashings of retail research along the way!

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