A new life for odds and ends

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

Turn­ing throw­away items into be­spoke fur­ni­ture is here to stay, says Anna White

ake do and mend” was a Gov­ern­ment slo­gan in the Se­cond World War en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple left at home to re­pair clothes, re­cy­cle waste and col­lect scrap metal as part of the war ef­fort. Some 75 years later, this na­tional ob­ses­sion has turned from ne­ces­sity to fash­ion. Hob­by­ists, high street stores and even lux­ury in­te­rior de­sign­ers are up­cy­cling what ap­pears to be junk into one-of-a-kind prod­ucts and re­work­ing re­claimed ma­te­ri­als into be­spoke fur­ni­ture. But this is not shabby chic for the sake of it; it is the telling of sto­ries through house­hold items.

A new Chan­nel 4 show, Find It, Fix It, Flog It, is ded­i­cated to turn­ing ta­bles into talk­ing points and cre­at­ing value out of vin­tage. Pre­sen­ters Henry Cole, a tele­vi­sion pro­ducer and mo­tor­bike fa­natic, and Si­mon O’Brien, a restora­tion spe­cial­ist and ac­tor, tour the coun­try rum­mag­ing through old farm build­ings and peo­ple’s sheds to find aban­doned trea­sures that can be trans­formed into sell­able goods.

The first episode takes them to a vin­tage car yard in Buck­ing­hamshire where Cole un­earths a Hud­son au­to­cy­cle – a very early mo­tor­bike with both en­gine and ped­als, built be­tween 1903 and 1930 – and a petrol dis­penser, once owned by the Bri­tish rac­ing driver St John Hors­fall. O’Brien chooses a col­lec­tion of old dy­na­mite boxes, two elm cart­wheel hubs and a cart­wheel.

With the help of me­chanic Guy Wil­li­son and artist and “crafty home­maker” Gemma Long­worth, the team of four re­store these items. The bike is made road­wor­thy and the cleaned-up As­ton Martin fuel can is val­ued as a col­lectable worth £5,000. Long­worth cre­ates a mo­bile shelv­ing unit from the boxes, while the aban­doned cart­wheel parts be­come a ta­ble with a glass top.

O’Brien be­lieves that re­claim­ing rub­bish is not a fad but a last­ing trend. “The whole craft and up­cy­cling move­ment is here to stay,” he says. “Our vir­tual, elec­tronic world with throw­away flat-pack goods leaves many peo­ple un­ful­filled. To do some­thing cre­ative, in­di­vid­ual and prac­ti­cal sat­is­fies a hu­man de­sire to make and sus­tain.”

Long­worth agrees: “Up­cy­cling is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. It makes for a very re­ward­ing hobby, trans­form­ing some­thing unloved into a unique and de­sir­able item.”

It’s cer­tainly of the mo­ment. De­signer Max McMurdo, who has ap­peared in Ge­orge Clarke’s Amaz­ing Spa­ces on Chan­nel 4, is pub­lish­ing a book called Up­cy­cling: 20 Cre­ative Projects Made from Re­claimed Ma­te­rial on Septem­ber 22. BBC Two is run­ning

Fixer-up­pers: the pre­sen­ters of Find It, Fix It, Flog It, which starts later this month on Chan­nel 4

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