I’m not good at throwing things away. I hate waste. I love the the idea of recycling and re-using. I keep all sorts of stuff that I’m convinced will come in handy for me to transform into some thing gorgeous and practical. You’d be surprised what you can use.

We have a couple of lovely old pieces of furniture which belonged to my partners family. They’re  beautifully made and were clearly destined for our ‘lived-in’ old Victorian London terrace. But they’re tired. They need recovering and re-padding – badly.  Sadly the costly, (and totaly justified, I must stress), cost of re-upholstery is not in my budget at the moment.

But…, I can sew. I can cut a mean pattern, I’ve tailored, coutured, hand-finished – you name it. I’ve even been known to chop the odd bit of wood now and again. I have a comprehensive book and the internet at my finger tips. I have no absolutely no illusions that it’s a piece of cake, but I reckon I could do it.

There’s no way, however, that i was going to test out this little hypothesis of mine on the other half’s family heirlooms.

So… at the end of November last year, I set myself a bit of challenge. I entered the North London Up-cycling show.

Recycling and re-using is a bit of a movement those days – so much so that it even has it’s own showcase events and the up cycling show is one of them. If you’re keen to have a go at up-cycling yourself, why not check to see if there is one in your area.

The deal is that the contestant is given a piece of fly-tipped furniture to breath new life into. with the aim of testing my upholstery potential, I thought I’d push it a bit and choose the rather daunting ‘armchair’ category.

From the depths of an urban flytip, this is what I was given……

I know…..   


A nasty old, dusty, dated beast of a 90’s Ikea bucket chair. I almost cried. It wasn’t pretty. 

These projects can go different ways. Some are destined to be gimmicky. Gimmicky has it’s place – it can be awesome – a real showpiece. The world needs showpieces.

But I wanted to do credible. I wanted to transform this into something contemporary and stylish… that you would want to take home with you.

I had an idea of where I wanted to go with this chair but the bucket shape was not in the plan. Only one thing to do – change it.

So I set to work

I removed the cover,

I sawed off some bits (with some help).

This was more like the shape I was after.

I used the old foam and adhesive to build up the gaps made when I removed some of the frame. I recovered the seat cushion to keep it all in place.

In the true spirit of re-using, I wanted to throw away as little as possible.

I couldn’t use the old cover as a pattern so I out came the calico and on went my draping hat.

Thankfully, I managed to quickly find some relatively inexpensive upholstery fabric online in the colours I wanted, Sadly there was no budget allocated.

I thought a nice little contrast pipe would be great on the seams. Typically I couldn’t find the colour I wanted anywhere – but i was simple to make my own. 

It was a real learning curve and very time consuming.

I now understand why is costs quite a lot to have an item of furniture reupholstered.

It took some real deliberation on how to do the various stages of assembly and in what order, but I actually really enjoyed it.

It reminded me of tailoring – something I’ve done quite a bit of over the years.

It finally came together…. and with the finishing touch of a small cushion….

managed to look pretty much how I’d planned…

a chi-chi little colour block cocktail chair.


Amazing what you can do isn’t it. 

The Up-cycling show was great. A great afternoon out rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tommy Walsh and Georgina Burnett.

The completion was tough with some lovely pieces, and some really innovative ideas. If you’re up for a creative challenge and you fancy doing some up-cycling I’d highly recommend this event. Keep watching for next year…..

Oh,… and i won a prize.

Ok… now where’s that chaise-longue?







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