Review: Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks
In their beautiful new book ‘Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks’, Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell make a compelling argument for introducing individuality into your home by giving old homeware and vintage furniture a new lease of life. In a world where so much is mass produced, upcycling or reinventing found, salvaged and recycled products is a way to break the mould. The book demonstrates that a new functionality or decorative purpose can be given to a very wide range of items, whether it’s a factory light switch or junk shop chair. These ‘hacks’ can be incorporated into both heritage and contemporary homes and offer the opportunity to get really creative with your interior decor. ‘Upcycled Chic And Modern Hacks’ presents a sneak peak into the stylish homes of several artists or thrifty DIY-er extraordinaires and reveals some of the secrets behind their unique decor ideas.
Upcycled Chic And Modern Hacks, by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell, published by CICO Books, £15.99, Amazon
With a focus on eclectic, sustainable design, the homes photographed for the ‘Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks’ embrace imperfections and reflect the personalities of their creative residents. Often the finished look is achieved using a mix of high end, DIY and mass market furniture, striking a balance between accessible, affordable and bespoke.
The book begins in artist Thomasina Smith’s kitchen, where she has painted her counters in an ‘Indian-Carribean’ palette of lime green, pastel blue and deep red. She claims that, rather than sticking to more standard contemporary or Victorian styles, the colours ‘reflect the heritage of her twentieth century home.’ The use of paint is recommended as a refreshing and inexpensive way of updating a kitchen to instantly inject personality, and is easy for anyone to achieve with the right matte shades.
Another of our favourite looks is from the kitchen of artist and sculptor Tim Braden. A collector at heart, Tim has gathered furniture over the years to cultivate a bright and inspiring space full of history. His kitchen table has been sanded down and painted grey. The dining chairs are all by mid-century modern Dutch designer Friso Kramer, hunted down by Tim on eBay and in junk shops. The authors suggest becoming an expert in a niche design item to get the best bargains, as you will see beauty where others overlook.
Vintage furniture dealer Mark Rochester really thought outside the box with his industrial-style kitchen. All of his furniture is salvaged from 19th and 20th century factories and farms and one of the “hero” pieces is the kitchen table, which was once the bottom half of an agricultural chaff-cutter. Mark removed parts of the machinery to insert the tabletop. His pendant lights, clock and light switches are all authentic. “If something can survive 80 years in a factory, it can withstand family life,” Mark explains in the book. “And some things, such as light switches, are made of better materials than we use now.” Other gorgeous features include a plate rack, formerly used to dry milk bottles in a dairy, and bib faucet taps with the chrome worn off to reveal the brass beneath.
In Mark and Tayla Rochester’s study, a long drapers table has been repurposed as a spacious desk, with plenty of room for personalised little touches and quirky decorative accessories. An Edwardian blackboard, vintage optician’s board and salvaged factory chairs add further character.
These old gymnasium bars in Thomasina Smith’s bedroom immediately stood out. What a great way to style and store shoes! We love the way Thomasina has created a unique yet practical storage solution for her favourite heels! The chair is a design classic: an early 20th century French café chair by Xavier Pauchard, the first French designer to produce galvanized metal furniture resistant to rust.
Our final pick comes from Posy Gentles, whose bathroom incorporates vintage finds rummaged from skips and bargain bins. This is a great example of making clever use of limited space without compromising on style, with the shower tucked neatly behind a corner. The bath is from a chain store, but Posy upcycled it by panelling the side in zinc originally from a Paris roof. Meanwhile, ceramic tiles have been cut into different widths to create a unique look.
There are so many beautiful and innovative ideas in ‘Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks’, we couldn’t possibly list them all here! But these are a few that really inspired us. You can pick up a copy of ‘Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks’ from Amazon.
All book photography © SIMON BROWN
If you enjoyed our round-up of ‘Upcycled Chic and Modern Hacks’, take a look at our other recommended design reads and other reclaimed furniture stored in our archives. Of course, we always have plenty more inspiration on Pinterest!
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