Tag Archives: home decor

Review : Recycled Home

I’ve been a fan of Baileys for some time – simple, well-made, well-designed home products that aren’t fussy or over-complicated, and an intriguing mix of old, recycled pieces and new, sustainable pieces that don’t compromise on style.

I’d been lusting after their book, Recycled Home, for a while, so I could barely wait to get the wrapper off before I dived into it …

Recycled Home  by Mark & Sarah Bailey

Visually, it’s gorgeous, with wonderful photos by Debi Treloar on every page …. the message, however, is less easy to absorb. I found it quite an extreme approach, the suggestion that we undecorate our home, stripping them back to their bones and concentrating on the underlying beauty in the materials used in construction of both the house itself, and the furnishings we use.

It’s an approach that is some degress north of ‘shabby chic’ – more extreme, less pretty, an almost wabi-sabi aesthetic in its insistence on allowing the materials used to speak for themselves, whilst insisting that they fulfil the function for which they were designed, with an emphasis on texture and tone.

The importance of balance in emphasised, and I can imagine that it’s a difficult look to pull off successfully – both in terms of liveability and aesthetics – it would be very easy to go too far, and feel as though you’re living in a building site, or not go far enough, and leave rooms looking half-finished and neither one thing nor another.

The insistence on leaving the materials used for construction unconcealed can make it look quite cold and industrial, I thought …. but the additional of recycled, upcycled textiles softens the look …

I liked the idea of avoiding new furnishings wherever possible – taking old, unwanted furniture, boxes, building materials and industrial fixings and re-purposing them for the home appealed to me – certainly flat-pack quick fixes are not an option with this look.

I wasn’t sure if this was a look that would work in every home. Sure, if you’ve got an old building with layers of character (and preferably soaring ceilings), revealing its history has a certain appeal and charm. Where I struggle to visualise it is in a modern home, where breezeblock and plasterboard are the underlying materials, or even in an early/mid-19th century home, where you don’t necessarily have the integrity in the materials or the desirable history to expose. Done badly, it could look harsh, minimalist and unfinished.

There is a place for the sleek and modern, juxtaposed against the worn and aged – again with the insistence on great design that fulfils function against the integrity and inherent beauty of the materials used.

It strikes me that it’s something worth thinking about …. it needn’t be a whole-house look, rather, an incorporation of elements.

Done well, it could be the the absence of flat-pack furniture, an insistence on natural materials left unpainted and unfinished, a reduction to only what was needed and loved, allowing the choices made in home decor to stand, unashamedly, as nothing more than what they are.

In my own home, a 1930’s cottage, there are places I can use the aesthetic, even though I wouldn’t want to live with a whole house like this. I could, for example, strip the paint from the mantle wall in the dining room and let the irregular, scarred plaster with the remnants of 80-odd years of paint speak for itself. Already, I’m planning on stripping back the stairs to reveal the wood underneath, and taking gloss off windowsills, doorframes and skirting boards as and when rooms need updating. And in terms of home furnishings and home accessories, I’m going to carry on with my mission of buying second-hand, vintage and antique and re-finishing and re-purposing as necessary rather than buying new.

It might make for a slower process, but I think that the slowing-down of the process will make it a more mindful one that links up naturally with my work.

It took a little while to move from the position of “oh my god, it’s all very well if you’ve got a character-laden 16th century farmhouse / georgian mansion” to “hmmm, I can see how elements of this might work in my house” that’s needed me to go back and re-read the book and actually absorb the words – rather than the pictures – to take in the message and understand it fully.

It’s not easy, and it’s not pretty, but it *is* beautiful.

Chevron Cushion – pinstripe & brocade

Why yes, a cushion … patchworked, and quilted … and I think versatile enough to work in either a contemporary interior or a more traditional country home … I have a feeling that it might go down well in a home office – the pinstriping is quite masculine, and the flash of red brocade reminds me of regency waistcoats, somehow ….

chevron patchwork cushion

Back towards the end of last year, I started in on a little project to work my way through Celia Eddy’s book  100 Traditional and Contemporary Quilt Blocks, and this is the latest … the chevron block.

I started with this:

Wool pinstripe and chinese brocade ...

Love those rich, rich fabrics. The pinstripe came from an old suit jacket I deconstructed, and I’ve been hoarding that brocade for a while now – it’s so lush.

foundation piecing for chevron block

Then happened a lot of foundation piecing … I probably made it more complicated for myself than I needed to by deciding that I wante the pinstripes to run in alternate directions on each block ….

foundation piecing ... chevron strips

Much coffee was drunk during the process ….. but eventually it was all put together and ready for quilting – there’s a good layer of wadding between the top and the cotton backing.

quilting ... stitching in the ditch

I managed to restrain myself and stick to just stitching in the ditch (along the seam lines) … the fabric needs to speak for itself.

quilted cloth

I always love that moment when the cloth is finished, and ready to be used ….

A little binding in the brocade along the edges and some vintage brass buttons that made me think of suit-sleeve cuffs.

chevron block cushion

And …. finished … and …. in my Etsy shop ….