Friday, 27 April 2007

The miserly customiser

Half-price heavens should be viewed through the eyes of an artist. Customising your finds to your personal taste and style will only make them more unique.

While there might not be anything screaming out to be bought on every visit, the super skinny evening gown or extra large shirt that would never fit might be made of a fantastic fabric that will look great as a headscarf or amazing as cushion covers. Even a little skill with the sewing machine might mean you can take up trousers or hem a skirt that has seen better days.

Consider upcycling old books. Hardbacks might have beautiful or quirky covers, but you’ll have to get rid of the ripped or water damaged pages before you can glue in blank paper – turning today’s trash into tomorrow’s journal or photo album. A bit of bookbinding know how goes a long way, but having a go is more fun than producing something perfect.

A beautiful frame might just need the hideous picture of dogs playing poker removed and burnt before it can home your latest photoshoped prints. Perhaps you’ve found a picture perfect for your living room wall, but it housed in a frame that almost makes your eyes bleed, don’t think I’ll buy that another time, get it now or it will be gone later and you will leave yourself plenty of time to find a matching frame.

A rickety old chair may just need the six layer of glossy paint stripped from it before it will fit in your dining room or maybe it requires a bit of basic re-upholstering with a piece of material and a staple gun. DIY never hurt anyone, but if your craft skills don’t stretch that far you can take it to a local professional, who will upholster your bargain for a fraction of what you’d pay for a ubiquitous Ikea piece.

When all is said and done, you might find that an item may just need a good wash - the phrase 'pre-loved' is all very well, but it doesn't hide the fact that you're never going to feel affectionate towards someone else's stains!

Thursday, 26 April 2007

X marks the spot

Charity shops, antique stalls, flea markets, auctions, jumble sales, house clearances and carboot sales are home to the great unknown. They are treasure troves waiting to be discovered and the excitement of hunting for your buried booty is that there is no map, no short cuts and absolutely no guarantees.

While trawling through Mills&Boon paperbacks and polyester Primark castoffs can be dull and downright depressing - especially when a suspicious smell is wafting from the person standing a bit too close to you - the prospect of finding a covertible Chanel clutch bag or elusive first edition from your favourite author is always just around the corner.

When setting off on an expedition, the trick is never to set your heart on anything too specific - there are supermarkets where you can buy exactly what you expect. Be patient, open-minded and don't leave any stone unturned and you are sure to uncover a gem - whether you knew you wanted a roll of psychedilc 70s wallpaper before you set off from your minilmalist home or not!