Day 18: Changing Rooms (Part II)

Before I get started on the desk challenge, I thought I’d start with something smaller and simpler.

Here are the results!


Plain White:

Plus Paint (from mini-samplers)…









= 3 beautiful words!




Day 17: Changing Rooms (Part I)

Do you remember the BBC2 programme ‘Changing Rooms’? I used to love it.

Smiley, smiley, Carol Smillie. DFS sofa-designer Linda Barker. Fuchsia and zebra-print –obsessed Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen.  Good old Handy Andy.

A friend of a friend had her house made over by the Changing Room team. Unfortunately the end result was foul and shoddy; curtains had been hung, in a gravity-defying trick, with blu-tack.

Those were the days.

But this is 2012, not 1997. Although the word is not yet included in the OED, ‘upcycling’ generates a whopping 1,850,000 results on a well-known search engine. In Changing Rooms, there was a certain catharsis in ripping out high-quality, if unfashionable, antique furniture. Instead, cheap materials such as MDF were revered for their very disposability.

Nowadays, though, we are all aware of our carbon footprint, and of the need to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. While the “see it, want it, buy it” mentality is still our society’s mantra, the increased use of websites such as Preloved, Freecycle and Gumtree indicates that some are turning their backs on cheap, throwaway products, preferring to invest in antique or high-quality, second-hand items.

Upcycling is part of this movement. On the web, it is defined as “the practice of converting waste materials into products of greater value” or “reusing unwanted items by turning them into new products”.

In the past I’ve rather snubbed this idea. Generally, I prefer modern pieces over antiques. I also thought that it was only any use if you had a great haul of old furniture stashed away in your loft, bursting with potential. I, on the other hand, am starting from scratch, having only moved out of the family home comparatively recently. If you have to shell out for battered old furniture, you may as well opt for the minimalist, relatively inexpensive designs of IKEA, I believed.

As I mentioned in a recent post, though, I have just inherited a sewing machine table from my grandparents, which I am going to use as my new desk. In contrast to my usual style of plain white or light-toned wood, this is very dark, with brass handles. I began to wonder how I could adapt the piece, to fit in with the rest of my bedroom.

From this…

To this?

I started out by researching how to paint a wooden piece of furniture. I learned that it would require a primer, paint and then a polyurethane gloss to protect the finished article. All very technical!

So, I placed my order with Homebase, and when I get home from another week away with work, I’ll get started. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Day 9: That’ll be £0.00. Keep the change…

There are not many perks to my job, but long, stressful hours, exams and slurry-tea notwithstanding, I can’t complain this week. That’s because I’m living for free. Your eyes do not deceive you. Free. Big-gap-in-the-bank-statement free.

I’ll preface this by saying that, sure, back home I’ve shelled out for rent, utilities and gym membership, none of which I’m using one jot. All wasted. In cash-flow terms, though, I’m no worse off than I was a week ago.

“How’s she wangled that?” you may be wondering, suspiciously, jealously (or perhaps both).
Well, my friends, there is a special something in my life. Something a few of you will know about. It’s the reason I sporadically disappear for weeks at a time. It’s my retreat, my no-cooking, cleaning or washing-up time. How does something that looks so much like a holiday cost the princely sum of zero pounds, zero pence?
My secret is called “Aylesbury”. And, when it comes along, everything is paid for.

From breakfast to dinner, no need to spend a penny on food.
Pricey petrol? Sorted.
The gym and pool are around ten yards from my front door, both included in the deal.
I don’t lift a finger.
A newspaper is placed by my door each morning, and I get a telephone call to wake me up. At breakfast, I am brought a pot of tea, and in the evening a very attractive young man brings my meal to my room.

The best bit? With no effort whatsoever expended, I’m totally within budget, and saving a fair few quid to squash down that loan.

Cheating? Definitely. Do I care? Do I heck…