WHAT MY HOME MEANS TO ME Up­cy­cler Max McMurdo


House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

His in­no­va­tive de­signs for up­cy­cling fur­ni­ture won in­vest­ment from TV’s Dragons plus spots on shows in­clud­ing Ge­orge Clarke’s Amaz­ing Spa­ces. Here, Max, 41, tells how liv­ing on a house­boat makes him happy WHERE I LIVE

My home is a con­verted ship­ping con­tainer, moored in Bed­ford Ma­rina. It’s 40ft long and has a kitchen with a pop-up din­ing ta­ble, lounge, bed­room with stor­age and a bath­room – every­thing I need. It started off as a hol­i­day home but I loved it so much I live there per­ma­nently now.

The house­boat is cosy in win­ter, and I’m just about to in­stall the log burner I’ve made, which was in­spired by a pizza oven. The walls are a grey-blush colour, which has an in­dus­trial tex­ture cre­ated by mix­ing wood­chip saw­dust into the paint. I’ve fallen in love with a dark teal though, so I might be dec­o­rat­ing again. Al­though I have plenty of up­cy­cled pieces in my home, I’ve de­lib­er­ately mixed them with orig­i­nal de­signs, as I like to be open to new ideas, ma­te­ri­als and tex­tures, and I wanted to show that you don’t need money and space to cre­ate good de­sign. My style is mid-cen­tury mod­ern, and my pride and joy is an Eames lounge chair and foot­stool – pieces I’d wanted from a very young age. I also have an up­cy­cled frame with a limit­ededi­tion print of Tom Hardy in Peaky Blin­ders, which I think ev­ery home should have!


Mum was a din­ner lady and Dad worked for a firm of ac­coun­tants, and they were post-war ba­bies who were keen on DIY and fix­ing things. If I got a toy car, Dad and I would take it to the garage to make a car park and ramp out of an old pal­let. And I was fas­ci­nated by the old-style Fairy Liq­uid bot­tles. I’d de­cant the liq­uid into a mug and use the bot­tle to make a rocket or car. I’m glad I was born in that era where we had to make our own en­ter­tain­ment.

Af­ter study­ing prod­uct de­sign at Bournemout­h, I went to Ger­many to de­sign cars. I didn’t en­joy the work, but I was im­pressed at how far ahead the coun­try was with re­cy­cling. I quit my job, bought an old VW camper­van and drove it home to my par­ents’ drive­way in Bed­ford­shire so I could start my own up­cy­cling com­pany, Ree­store. My dad died af­ter I se­cured £50,000 for my com­pany from my ap­pear­ance on Dragons’ Den in 2007 and be­fore I started pre­sent­ing on tele­vi­sion, but I think he re­alised I was go­ing to do well and would be able to look af­ter Mum. Know­ing that helped me work through the grief. He was the lo­cal mayor so was used to speak­ing in pub­lic, and, in many ways, what I do now isn’t dis­sim­i­lar.


I got di­vorced last year and have had to ad­just to be­ing on my own. It’s been hard but I’m start­ing to re­dis­cover who I am. My friends are im­por­tant to me. At week­ends, a group of us take the ca­noes I have tied to the house­boat and pad­dle up the river. We stop in the town, take our oars into a res­tau­rant and have some good food be­fore pad­dling back. Last sum­mer, a friend and I went to Por­tu­gal where he taught me to surf. I’m very open to new chal­lenges – I’d like to try thatch­ing next. I’m never hap­pier than when I’m wak­ing up in my house­boat and see­ing the sun from the river re­flected on the ceil­ing. When I look out­side, I’ll of­ten see king­fish­ers or herons. It’s won­der­ful to be sur­rounded by na­ture.

FROM TOP Max’s Eames chair; the house­boat in­te­rior is an eclec­tic mix of old, new and re­cy­cled; a stove/pizza oven he clev­erly de­signed from a gas can­is­ter

FROM TOP The re­stored ship­ping con­tainer in Bed­ford Ma­rina; Max mixed wood­chip saw­dust into the paint to give a tex­tured feel to the walls of each room; he drove a VW camper­van back to the UK from Ger­many to start up his com­pany

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