Henri ponders the joys of upcycling

Upcycled materials

Upcycled materials

After a visit to my sister in Copenhagen last month, my daughter announced that she wanted her room to look exactly like her cousin’s: all black and white, and with strategic splashes of colour.

Having just completed the annual clear-out of my daughter’s room, filling charity bags with toys and clothes she had outgrown, plus a couple of bin liners of just… rubbish, I put my head in my hands and groaned. Not only is it the blatant assumption that I have nothing better to do with my time, it’s also the cost involved (and the sheer futility of it – give her five minutes, and her room is back to being a tip).

So I decided to upcycle.

Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling (geddit?). Whereas downcycling involves converting materials and products into materials of lesser quality, upcycling is, according to Wikipedia, “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value”.

In layman’s terms, sprucing up something old.

In the spare room we had an old flat-pack chest of drawers which I’d had since my flat-share days. I gave it a lick of white paint, decorated the knobs* in different colours and patterns using a handful of tester pots I had in the garage. The bookcase was also painted white, as well as a redundant spice rack which can be used for knick-knacks.

* I’m aware that using the word “knob” in cyberspace could lead to some interesting misunderstandings, so I just want to emphasise that I’m talking about the handle variety here.

To finish I covered a pair of hideous old sofa cushions (also from my flat-share days) in strong white fabric, and fashioned a beanbag out of an old sofa cover and some refill polystyrene beads I had lying around. The black, folding sleep-over mattress is from IKEA.

A selection of, er, knobs

A selection of, er, knobs

Total cost: a can of white satinwood paint £11.99, a bobbin of sewing thread £1, sleep-over mattress £12 = £24.99.

Now I’m off to polish my halo with an old can of Brasso I have lying around…