Hi Sarah, I have been a fan of yours for over a year now, after discovering you on Real homes channel on YouTube. I really love your interior style and beautiful upcycled pieces.
I feel as if upcycling is something you started as a hobby at a much younger age; Is this the case?
Yes, it is, I have been upcycling, re-purposing items for my house since I was in my 20s when I first bought my flat in London. I used to go to Greenwich market a lot when it existed, and buy a lot of bits and pieces to do up. Yeah, I have always been interested in upcycling, I have loved it and it’s a fun creative hobby – yes.
What inspired you to start upcycling?
Poverty was one of the reasons, Lack of finances and I wanted certain things but lacked the money, So I fashioned things out for myself. In later years I decided to keep on doing it because I felt it was a very creative hobby, good for your mental health, I loved doing it in my spare time. It was a very enjoyable past time.
Oh my goodness; your story really resonates with me. This is the same reason i started upcycling as well as sewing. I love beautiful interiors and I wanted to make my own living space to feel and look luxurious, on a budget. This is why I am so inspired by your work. Its beautiful and on another level.
How do you find and choose your vintage pieces of furniture to upcycle?
When I first started out, I was just looking at practicality of what I needed, in terms of storage. In this present time, I look for something I know my commission customers will be looking for. These are often side boards, cabinets or tall boys, or chest of draws. And so, I scower 24/7, finding pieces I think will be right not only for my customers homes but also furniture that I really like and want to work on. Pieces that inspire me and know can be transformed and made to look better than it already is.
When you see a piece, does the design idea pop into your mind straight away or after you get home?
Erm pretty much always after I get home, I will see a piece, I will like the shape, I’ll know that it’s got good bones. I might like the size of it. Doesn’t matter if looks a mess, or things broken or bits missing off it. All those things can be sorted. Often, I’ll just buy things on a whim really. I will then put them in my storage for a later date. Because I know that when I put my mind to it, I will find a design for it.
I love how you choose and mix your colours and patterns when upcycling a piece. So unique. That’s what attracted many of us to your work. What’s your inspiration when you design a piece?
Well these days inspiration comes from usually a client brief, so they might send me lots and lots of pictures of their interior, their mood boards, things they have collected on Pinterest; kind of their aspirations really. So I start from their perspective, and then I try to interpret that, and find a way of injecting my own style and my own sense of aesthetic into their practical and aesthetic needs. It’s like a collaboration really. I put forward lots of ideas and finally we arrive at something everybody is happy with.
I adore your creativity and I am noticing your signature pieces.
Would you say your signature style is animal prints and floral? Or more than that?
Well I do love animal print and florals, but I also love geometric prints, and other patterns. I think it’s (geo prints) neutral, erm I think you can pretty much make it work in any interior. Florals are a bit more challenging sometimes and often I will not use floral patterns on certain shape pieces. Especially if I don’t think it looks quite right or right for the interior. So, it pretty much depends on the pattern. I also do think I have a signature style, but it does not necessarily mean it’s going to be animal print or floral. I like lots of different textures and patterns, It more about colour and moods than anything else.
Do you have a favourite upcycled piece, and why?
Difficult to answer, well not really. I do have a bureau upstairs that belonged to my grandmother, that I revamped. For sentimental purposes, I am attached to that. If I am honest, I do not have favourites really. I have some that I am slightly less keen on, not so much recently since I am better at asserting myself and saying no, if I feel something is not going to work. Usually it sounds a bit cliché but pieces that I am working on at that moment, now is often my favourite piece. Because I am just enjoying the process and erm I am finding it exciting.
Tell us a little about UP-CYCLATHERAPY 😀
This was a phrase I coined because, revamping furniture was my way of chilling and relaxing. Life sometimes can be challenging especially in my case where I have a child with disability, and I tend to suffer from ups and downs like many people do, and I have just found that the process of revamping my furniture was incredibly therapeutic. So, I called it Up-cyclatherapy and I still see it in that way. And If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t do it anymore.
When I look at your interior, I can sense that you are having so much fun with it. I find each room enchanting in a way.
What would you call your style? Classic, vintage maximalist, eclectic or something else?
I suppose it is eclectic, very vintage inspired, I like colour, texture and patterns. I guess it is quite bold, to be honest I am also quite classic, I don’t think my style is really out there or OTT. I feel it is very vintage inspires and yes, I suppose I am maximalist. I am definitely not kind of scandi neutral kind of girl. I am also very influenced by other cultures. I feel my style is an amalgamation of different influences from travels particularly. But hopefully it’s not predictable.
What inspires your interior style?
Well people and travels mainly. I don’t buy interior magazines, but I do look on Pinterest, mainly for textures and colours. So, if I am looking to do something with a room or a piece of furniture, I would just as likely to get inspiration from a wall or a door or something quite random rather than traditionally, a room. That way I stay away from emulating what other people have done.
What’s the story behind that unique corrugated iron sheet wall?
Well that is a wall paper, printed by, hospital and little, I saw it when I was working in digsby in Manchester. I saw it in the shop, just a little panel of it on the wall, about six or seven years ago when I first moved here. I walked into the shop and said to the owner, “ooh that is incredible, I love that wall paper, it’s amazing”. He said, “well that’s the wall paper that everyone sees and says wow, but never buys”. (laughs), That was like a moth to a flame, and I thought, ‘OH’ I have got to have it.
I liked the idea of people being drawn to it but not wanting to buy it (laughs). So, I bought it and I don’t regret it, and I have had to for quite a few years now, I am still not bored of it. I might change it eventually. I just like the mix of the industrial and the glamour vibe, I try to incorporate in my room. I think it gives a little bit of an edge.
As one of your fans I noticed you have a big fast-growing audience. How would you describe them?
Diverse actually, everyone has the one thing in common and that is they are interested in interiors, where you can get interesting decorations, furniture art etc. In terms of demographics, I would say, from around mid 20s to 60s, mainly females. Also, all sorts of social economic groups, from those renting to those buying, it varies really. And I am pleased by that.
Would you say you are creating a brand? And where would you like it to be in the future?
When I Started out, I wouldn’t say I was creating one really, but I suppose over the last years I have become more conscious that what I am doing is creating a little brand, a very small little micro brand, which I have no intentions of making big or expanding. But when you put yourself out there on social media wanting to promote yourself and sell, you grow into one.
So yes, I would say I am creating a brand but a small one. Despite not wanting to expand it, I would like it to sustain an income for me and for people to enjoy my work, my creations.
Sarah thank you so much for accepting this interview. As a fan I am honoured.