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The biggest myth about upcycling? That you need to be a DIY expert. There are so many beautiful pre-used things that have a history and a story that I want to give a second life. It makes our shops unique and none are exactly the same.

Calling All

Always loved the idea of upcycling but never known where to start?
Our very own Head of Interiors, and keen upcycler, Lou Burnett shares her tips from the top.

Think upcycling and you're probably picturing Saturday afternoons spent in the garden, pot of paint in your hand, transforming an old chest of drawers you've never really loved. But thanks to a new wave of trendy crafters, the concept of upcycling has found a new lease of life. It's no longer about painting and restoring, but about giving a familiar object a whole new purpose.

Need convincing? Just take one look at Pinterest. An afternoon can easily be spent trawling the influx of 'upcycled' projects and that's before you even get to Etsy's 216,024 reclaimed items - an increase of over 2000% since 2010. It's no longer about 'make do and mend', but more like 'make, do and amend'. The popularity isn't hard to understand. According to statistics, European Union customers collectively send 5.8 million tonnes of textiles to landfill every year, with the UK contributing approximately 350,000 tonnes.

Upcycling isn't news to us at White Stuff. Our head of interiors Lou Burnett has always had a passion (some would say obsession) for bringing the unique into our shops:

I wanted to incorporate some fireplace tiles into our shops and thought that they could look lovely on the upstands of stairs.
This has now become part of our handwriting in
our shops with staircases.

'Uniqueness is often the driving force behind upcycling. Wall furnishings, lighting, bespoke furniture; if you can't find it within your budget it's time to get crafty,' says Lou.
'I love old, unique things, but often their original use doesn't translate to the here and now. I like to make things useful for today, while retaining their original beauty.'
'The biggest myth is that to be an upcycling pro you have to be a DIY expert. Making friends with your local Joiner or Handyman and keeping an eye out for unusual things at flea markets, charity shops and on eBay is the secret.'

Lou's upcycling obsession began when she was 14, turning her dad's old moth-eaten Aran jumper into a cushion cover. Now her talent extends to transforming old suitcases into dog beds and chests of drawers, and old dobbins into lamps and utensil holders. 'The best piece of advice I can give for getting started? Just have a go,' Lou says.

Your upcycling toolkit:

  • • Tape measure
  • • Drill
  • • Screwdrivers and screws
  • • A phone (to call the Handyman or Electrician)
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