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					                                                                                                                       SALVAGE GUIDE

                      salvation army
 Economical, sustainable and enormously satisfying, revamping salvaged furniture is
a smart way to update any interior. We ask the experts for the lowdown on where to go,
                           what to buy and who can help.
                                words Hazel pfeifer

                            It’s surprisingly easy to breathe life into
                            junk shop finds and auction bargains
                            by repainting, restoring, reupholstering
                            and revarnishing. There is a treasure
                            trove of clever finds to be had, from flea
                            markets and charity shops to friends’ and
                            family’s attics. Even older pieces around
                            your home that may need an update can
                            be easily revamped with a few simple
                            steps and will be bespoke to your taste
                            and colour scheme. Not every piece of
                            furniture will work, but a mixture of
                            upcycled pieces and contemporary finds
                            can bring the perfect balance of old and
                            new to an interior. So out with the new
                            and in with the old – get busy with our
                            expert guide to furniture make-overs.

                                            Restoring old furniture and junk shop finds is an easy and economical way to redecorate.
                                          Walls in Castle Meadow, €36.33 per 2.5 litres from the National Trust collection, Fired Earth.


painting by Numbers                                 Mix and match colours and furniture styles for an eclectic look. Wall in Matt Emulsion 70YY 50/383;
Interior designer Gina McGarvey runs
                                                    Chairs, from left, 50RB 09/087; 10YY 722/021; 30GY 41/173, all from €41.49 per 5 litres, Dulux.
workshops on repainting furniture from her
home in donegal. Here, she gives her top
tips for basic repainting in six easy steps.
1 Wipe down with a sugar soap solution to
get rid of any grease that has built up over
the years. paint will not stick to a greasy or
dirty surface.
2 Using fine sandpaper, lightly sand the
furniture going in the direction of the grain
to get rid of any loose varnish and surface
dirt. Wipe down with a damp cloth and
allow to dry.
3 prime the piece of furniture with a wood
primer to seal the wood before applying the
top coat.
4 depending on the finish, apply two coats
of water-based emulsion paint. Apply thinly
and allow a couple of hours’ drying time in
between the coats. Allow to dry overnight.
                                                    FINdErS KEEpErS Collector and founder of Belfast online
5 To seal the surface, apply three to four          initiative refound, Jill O’Neill, was inspired by the journey an object takes over
coats of non-yellowing, water-based varnish.        the years from home to home. With the help of a number of artists, a number of
6 If the item is a display piece, apply a           unwanted items have been transformed into colourful, individual works of art. Tiled
natural beeswax with a dry, clean cloth and         table, £155, Jill Black,
buff with another dry cloth.
Painted furniture workshops at GMG Interiors,
086 278 7300;

InsIdEr TIp “I generally go to
auctions, carboot sales and house
clearances for my vintage finds.
Keep a beady eye on The Irish Times
for house clearance notices.”
Vintage furniture dealer Rebecca Roe.

                                                                                                                                SALVAGE GUIDE

 dUTCH By dESIGN For his Waste Materials project, designer
 piet Hein Eek has modelled striking tables and chairs from pieces of scrapwood, in
 response to typical manufacturing processes that often result in wasted materials.
 The pieces of scrapwood are arranged to form a patchwork pattern, uneven yet
 strikingly beautiful. Sticking to traditional techniques, all his pieces are painstakingly
 handcrafted in his studio in Holland.

                                                                                                   HISTOry rEpEATING
                                                                                                   Couple James russell and Hannah plumb
                                                                                                   work together to create sculptural works of
                                                                                                   art from overlooked antiques and cast-offs.
                                                                                                   Their off-beat lighting, seating and interiors
                                                                                                   capture the romance of a forgotten time for
                                                                                                   the contemporary age.

                                                “The trick is not to necessarily pick out a ‘good’ piece but one with a pleasing shape.
perfect polish sometimes,                       don’t be put off by appearances, or if the odd back panel or shelf is missing. You can get
simply a good polish can restore lustre to      missing panels cut to size fairly cheaply at a local woodworking store and tack them on
a tired piece. pat Cooke, known as The          yourself with panel pins. start with something small and manageable such as a bedside
Furniture doctor, with over 25 years’
                                                locker or kitchen chair.” Lucina Lennon, Galerie Lisette.
experience restoring furniture and
antiques, shares his insight.
• With antique furniture, the process           Back to Basics                      Furniture
of restoring is longer and more skilled,        painter and restorer selina Gittins gives her
and it’s best to take a course in antique       top tips on taking the initial steps.
restoration for this.                           • Firstly, identify the existing finish. Varnish
• Vintage and contemporary furniture            and existing paint can be sanded back just so
is different because the finish is usually      the shine is gone. you don’t need to go right
lacquer; either high-gloss, satin or a          back down through every layer, as long as
matt finish.                                    you get the loose, flaky old paint off.
• The piece can be cleaned with white           • A distressed finish can be improved by
spirit and fine steel wool, or a cloth          the existence of previous layers. For a
depending on how much dirt there is.            smoother look, take more time and trouble
Beeswax can then be used if necessary.          with the preparation, as it may involve
• Avoid using furniture sprays because          stripping the paint.
most have silicone and they cause a             • The piece then has to be rinsed and
film to appear on the surface and also          allowed to dry before being primed. I use
break down the polish over a period             a small electric sander for sanding flat
of use.                                         surfaces and I sand turned legs and carved
• If the piece needs to be stripped             detail by hand.
right back to the bare wood, a finish           • You don’t have to be as careful as with a
can be applied either by just waxing            French-polished piece, but you do need to
with beeswax and a cloth or for 1950s           treat a hand-painted piece with respect if you
and 1960s items, a satin lacquer spray          want it to last.
can be very effective. Staining with            • Old furniture is so much better made than
wood stain may not be necessary.                mass-produced modern furniture and can be
                                                customised so that it is totally unique.


                                                            THINK CONTEMpOrAry
                                                            Anthony Buggy and Joanne Kelly, of interior architecture
                                                            and design consultancy Think Contemporary, noticed a
                                                            trend for retro and vintage furniture a few months ago and
                                                            wondered how they could do it differently. Spotting an
                                                            old chest of drawers in Oxfam, they decided to give it their
                                                            signature quirky stamp. “We stripped it down, painted it an
                                                            acrylic black, sourced the vinyl image, and then painted and
                                                            replaced the handles,” Anthony says. The idea led to their
                                                            upcycled collection, which now includes a colourful dresser
                                                            and a series of vivid side-tables, as well as some quirky
                                                            accessories. “We’re always looking for something with very
                                                            simple lines, that is not too fussy,” he continues.
                                                               So what do they recommend when looking for a new
                                                            piece? “Find something that’s in good condition, know
                                                            what you want from the beginning and what to expect of
                                                            the final outcome. We get ideas from the pieces we work
                                                            with so we know where we’re going initially, but it’s good
                                                            to be adaptable.” Anthony recommends choosing colours
                                                            that suit your own style and interiors, and “not going too
                                                            mad” on larger pieces. In a time when business is slowing,
                                                            Think Contemporary’s upcycling collection has proved
                                                            to be hugely successful. “We weren’t prepared to sit back
                                                            and let things pass us by,” Anthony says. “It’s all down to
                                                            attitude.” Which is exactly what upcycling is all about.

                                                            Think Contemporary’s collection is available from the brocante market,
                                                            every third Sunday of the month,, and
                                                            online at

WHO CAN HELP Pat Cooke aka The Furniture
doctor, specialises in French polishing and restoration,        WHERE TO GO
                                                                ONliNe;; www.ebay.
085 146 1277. Noel Ryan Upholstery noel transforms              com;;
tired furniture with his skilful upholstery services, 087       (Northern Ireland)
                                                                CHariTY SHOpS The oxfam stores on Francis street,
961 6755. Selina Gittins Furniture repainting and               dublin 8, and the dublin road, Belfast, have a large furniture
restoration, Eclectic Interiors, 087 682 7348; www.             section and can be a source of excellent bargains,
                                                       Gina McGarvey One-day painted            aUCTiON HOUSeS For information on auctions around the
furniture workshops, 086 278 7300; www.gmginteriors.            country, visit
                                                                flea MarKeTS For flea markets around Ireland, visit
com. Emily Naper Three-day course in gilding,         
including cleaning, repair, preparation, application            DUBliN flea MarKeT The Co-op, 12 Newmarket,
                                                                dublin 8; The last sunday of every month.
and antiquing, 049 854 1356;                 BrOCaNTe MarKeT The Co-op, 12 Newmarket,
Lucina Lennon One-day revamp workshops at Galerie               dublin 8; The third sunday of
                                                                every month.
Lisette, Co Wicklow, 086 650 0757; www.galerielisette.          ViCTOriaN KiTCHeN COMpaNY Get the look for bigger
com. Courses include paint effects for beginners and            pieces from Victorian Kitchen Company, who specialise
                                                                in reclaimed flooring, cast iron radiators, salvaged lighting
intermediates, turn your junk into treasure, and basic          and roll-top baths, 01 672 7000;
curtain making. Old Chairs Weekend workshops in       
                                                                For architectural salvage pieces, THe STOreYarD,
furniture restoration and upholstery courses, Co Clare,         Portlaoise, has a selection of chimney pieces, door porticos
087 249 1978;                                 and surrounds, 057 868 0088;