Interiors: Art of upcycling on the rise

Hayley Flanagan in TheDEN Studio in North Berwick. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Hayley Flanagan in TheDEN Studio in North Berwick. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Upcycled furniture offers individual pieces as well as items you can put you own stamp on

THE art of upcycling – reusing furniture or materials in a useful, often creative, way – has been experiencing something of a revolution recently. TV programmes such as Kirsty’s Vintage Home and George Clark’s Amazing Spaces are fanning the DIY flames, and more consumers are opting for something other than high street fare. There is a pocket of south east Scotland that offers a treasure trove of places to explore.

John Burns from Sam Burns Yard in Prestongrange, Prestonpans. Picture: Ian Georgeson

John Burns from Sam Burns Yard in Prestongrange, Prestonpans. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Samuel Burns & Co Reclamation Yard
Woodend, Prestongrange, Prestonpans, EH34 9SA

The long-established Sam Burns is the perfect place to spend a morning rummaging. There is something for the novice and seasoned upcyclist with its eclectic mix of secondhand furniture from all decades, including bedheads, dressing tables and wardrobes, not forgetting chairs, crockery, golf clubs and a shed full of coloured yarn spools. Stock is brought in every day, often from house clearances and auctions. When asked what the best sellers are, yard manager John Burns says without hesitation, “Furniture. Heavy furniture for painting.”

Prices are kept down in a bid to move things on quickly, and it’s a great place to try your hand at bartering. There are bargains to be had, especially for those happy to get stuck into some repair work.

Open Monday to Sunday 9:30am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm (

theDEN Studio
17B Market Place, North Berwick, EH39 4JF

TheDEN Studio in North Berwick, tucked away behind the high street, offers upcycled furniture, as well as coffee and cake.

Owner Hayley Flanagan opened for business ten months ago and her striking yet simple designs on furniture and homewares are attracting a lot of interest. She uses Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ( and Mini Moderns wallpaper ( to enhance secondhand furniture with bold colour and patterns, and the effect is highly distinctive, “I try and locally source furniture,” she explains, “I do commissions and custom paint pieces and designs, searching for matching items.”

Hayley also runs workshops on upcycling techniques, including lampshade making, painting, buffing or lacquering, crackle glazing, decoupage and stencilling. Upholstery, and painting and drawing technical classes are about to be added. “I think everyone’s got some creativity in them,” she says. “It’s important for a rounded life. It’s that moment for yourself, away from the kids.”

Open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm; Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 11.30am-5pm


Up Recycling
25 Station Hill, North Berwick, EH39 4AS

Staying in North Berwick, UP Recycling is the newest kid on the upcycling block, but is already attracting so much attention that owners Rhona and Allan Hartley have increased their Friday to Sunday opening hours by a day.

The almost-hidden entrance is an adventure in itself to find. The narrow entry corridor displays upcycled pallet shelving, distressed wooden bookcases and coat hook racks made out of spoons and forks. The main shop is packed with treasures, including a baby pink painted nest of tables, a coffee table on trolley wheels and a distressed-finish storage unit.

Rhona ran a previous branding business from this space but says, “Allan is passionate about making things and upcycling. He made a table for our kitchen and we got talking about upcycling, and how we would utilise this space. We opened last February. This is so much more fulfilling and enjoyable.”

Best sellers include giant wooden rulers for growth charts, which cost £35 for a six foot measures and £25 for five foot.

As well as selling their own items, UP Recycling will sell on a customer’s behalf, “We give 60% of the sale, and we also rent space to companies. At the moment we’ve got in Albert and Dolly, Sauve Antique, Bramble Shed and Marie Claire Maison.”

Open Thursday to Sunday, 12pm-5pm 

2nd Time Round
Unit 1, Turkeytorium, Fenton Barns, Drem, 
EH39 5BW

Next stop is a few miles down the picturesque coastal road to Fenton Barns. Opened last year, 2nd Time Round is a secondhand furniture and collectables shop and workshop, run by Keith Milligan and his partner Annie.

The furniture here is already repaired and in great condition. Keith, a trade painter for 40 years, has combined his skills with his partner’s eye for finding pieces for restoration. “We don’t put out anything that’s damaged,” says Keith. “We supply pieces as projects for people to buy and do themselves.”

As well as repairing and restoring their own pieces to sell, Keith and Annie take on commissions, finding pieces to order, which can be stained or painted to customers’ specifications. Current commissions include a 1940s child’s desk complete with inkwell and chair, and a 1930s oak carver chair. They also offer mirrors, frames and collectables.

You can barter, or even bring in your own pieces to offer. “We are always buying [secondhand items] from people, not top dollar because we don’t charge top dollar. We are here to make a living, not to make a fortune,” explains Keith.

Open Monday to Sunday, 10am-5pm; closed Wednesdays (