Upcycling: The popularity of breathing new life into old belongings
We take a look at the upcycling trend that’s sweeping the nation and ask the experts for their tips on getting involved.
Words by Christine Toner
Spring is almost upon us, and as such it’s the perfect time to breathe some new life into your home and freshen things up. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean ditching your old furniture and splashing out on all new styles. No, instead you can simply upcycle your existing pieces and revive your decor for a fraction of the price.
Upcycling is the art of reusing materials and turning unwanted items into unique new products. This new trend in sustainable design is rising in popularity across Liverpool and beyond as homeowners get creative in their search for something unique.
Steve Flanagan and his wife Emma Giff recently started Chainage78 as a family venture with both sets of their parents after “years of tinkering in woodwork sheds or behind a craft table”.
“Upcycling gives people an opportunity to make a statement in their homes that becomes a talking point.”
In their Garston-based workshop they create unique pieces by either upcycling or repurposing, as well as creating handmade items using such techniques as crochet, knitting and wood turning.
“We love creating our own ideas, but we really enjoy when a client comes to us with an idea or brief and commissions us to make that idea a reality,” says Steve. “Currently upcycling is very popular and ‘on trend’ as people see the benefit of turning an unloved item into something new.
“With a bit of time and a smidge of imagination that item could be transformed into a bright, beautiful or unique thing with a brand new lease of life. But it’s not just upcycling that is popular at the moment – the skill of repurposing something from its original intent into another use is just as popular.”
Steve says media coverage has had a big influence on the popularity of upcycling. Television programmes such as ‘Find it, Fix it, Flog it’ and ‘Money for Nothing’ and magazines such as ‘Reloved’ have inspired many to take on their own upcycling projects.
“People want that statement or unique piece that no one else has.”
“Upcycling can grab people for many different ways, reasons and styles,” he says. “They may have limited budgets and re use existing or cheaply sourced items to help update their décor.
“It’s also a great way to showcase someone’s creative side. But we think one of the main reasons [it is increasing in popularity] is because people want that statement or unique piece that no one else has. It allows them to push the boundaries of design and style, which is what we aim to do.”
Diane Greene runs Patsy’s Place with her husband, Michael. The pair have worked together now for five years and fuse Diane’s creative background with Michael’s experience in construction.
“We have put our skills together to create our own ideas,” she says.
Diane and Michael reuse products from demolished buildings around Liverpool that are sometimes hundreds of years old to produce dining tables, shelving and other items for the home to give “a unique look to each and every customer, something that no high street store will supply.”
Diane says like any other fashion trend, once an idea hits the media or high street everyone wants it and upcycling is no different.
“The unique ideas of upcycling give people an opportunity to create their own look or theme and make a statement in their own homes, restaurants and bars that becomes a talking piece,” she says.
“Upcycling has taken on a new experience and it is now being incorporated into designs of new and old. Everybody wants a piece of history in their homes and if there is a story to go along with it, even better.”
But workmanship and quality are also behind the surge in popularity in renovating and upcycling ‘preloved’ items.
“People are now realising that modern day manufacturing does no way compare to the quality of older pieces,” says Diane.