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Pat Elliott: ‘Revamping and reusing are chic options’

The fashion for individual décor has revitalised our take on interiors. This has been one of those exciting design reformations that seem to occur at roughly ten-year intervals.

Whether it co-incided with a growth of concerns for the planet, or was impelled by them, it is serendipitous that, in a year predicting further economic gloom, recycling, revamping and reusing are chic options.

There are few pieces of furniture that cannot be given a new lease of life. Even inexpensive MDF and melamine are capable of reinventing themselves. So, before being tempted by new furniture, take a look at what you have and what is on offer at local car boot sales, charity shops and auction sites.

Before you tackle any furniture facelifts, do be sure that what you have is not a priceless antique whose value will be ruined by revamping. Equally, avoid pieces whose structure is beyond repair. All wooden furniture should be checked for woodworm, which is usually obvious from the presence of holes and fine dust but, even if there is no sign of active woodworm, it is sensible to treat all old pieces with a reputable product such as Rentokil wax polish.

Only if surfaces are chipped or blistered does painted or varnished furniture need to be stripped. Aim to use an environmentally friendly paint stripper (such as Home Strip from GoGreen online shop) and follow the instructions carefully before cleaning and sanding (in the direction of the grain) as required. The piece is then ready for priming and painting or staining and varnishing. Eco matt or satin finish paints or varnishes give the best results. Non-porous melamine-surfaced furniture requires a specialist paint, which resists scratching or peeling.

Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House.  Visit the website for design services, courses and workshops. Start a new career in 2013 as a Homestyle Adviser or learn to 
Be Your Own Designer with 
distance-learning interior design courses (07765 057 409, 
www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk)

 

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