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Extreme (budget) Makeover – the recycled lounge

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“Apart from a handful of things given to us, our entire house is created from stuff we have found on the side of the road, or in charity shops” I explained to a friend. He scanned the lounge where we were sitting and said “Yup… I can beleive it”.


So maybe the random array of furniture and funny little odds and ends (and the smell of cat wee) (just kidding) gives it away a little. But we love it, and that is what counts, eh?

Here are some horrendoes befores:

We had carpet put in on Monday, and Tim scored some amazing bits of furniture from a skip the day after which just completed it all for us. So here is the Big Reveal of the lounge, a year after we began!

The big soldier was £5 from Oxfam in Streatham (I have raved about this shop before. It is amazing!)

The little soldiers were £5 from the Fara kids shop in Pimlico

The curtains were £70 from the Mind shop in East Dulwich. Yep. 7 0. But they are lovely and thick and long and we had been searching for some time. Plus, it all goes to charity innit.

Then we have a big deep drawer next to the sofa which is great for holding all of Ramona’s toys. We found it round the corner, minus the desk!

This sofa is also from Streatham Oxfam, it was £35 and is so huge it is possible to sleep on it. Love. The cushions are from various charity shops, or made for us by our lovely friend.

Here is the other end of the lounge, and apologies for the even worse photos these puppies will make you feel dizzy. It is so dark down there and my camera hates on it.

This sofa/bench and the bureau were the bits Tim found in the skip. The school bench was £8 from a junk shop in Peckham. The old school pull along duck was £1 from a little school car boot (those are the BEST for kids stuff, unbelieveably cheap.)

This white book case was once pine and in the bin of a neighbours house, we pulled it out and painted it white. It’s not flash but it does a job! One of these sewing machines was found on the street, the other given to me for my birthday, but originated from Oxfam in West Wickham. The abacus was 50p from a charity shop – Ramona loves it! And the various frames were picked up from charity shops.

The desk lamp was £1 from another school car boot. I love finding glass things and putting stuff in them- jars full of pegs or scrabble letters.

So there it is, the recycled lounge- a mixture of charity shopping obsession and pure – finding – things – on – the- street- luck.


The weekend that we found Ramona’s Christmas pressie on the street

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Well, we NAILED this surprise heatwave. Swam in the sea at Whitstable, swam in the ponds at Hampstead Heath and swam in the river in Cambridge. The water was ffffffffreezing but once in, amazing, and Ramona completely loves splashing in cold water.

Score of the weekend was found on a corner in Hampstead – a mini house (dolls house/ tiny superhero base; whatevs) complete with all the trimmings. A tiny computer! A tiny shower! A tiny rocking horse! It is so cute and while Ramona mostly enjoys sucking the woolly heads of the tiny people I am having a fantastic time rearranging the furniture and deciding on the decor. (Haaahaha. It would be funny if it wasn’t TRUE. *Ashamed*) It is gonna be the wildest looking dolls house anyone has ever seen. (Yeah, yeah, I know we should do our actual house first. Meh.)

We will give it to Ramona for Christmas. Hello, she’ll be one, she won’t know that you aren’t meant to play with your Christmas pressies 3 months beforehand. And then we might take it away for a bit next year and give it to her for her second Christmas. And maybe with a revamp, again for her third. Ha.

People think we are lucky to find as much cool stuff as we do. But, I’m telling you, it does take some work. (And a back garden where you can dump all the stupid things you drag home.)

Here are my top finding tips:

As you walk or cycle along, scan the end of driveways by bins. People always leave stuff there.

Cross the road to look in skips. People chuck good stuff out all the time.

If you are in a posh area and see that it is rubbish collection day, take an extra special wander and gander.

Don’t be afraid of dirtiness. If it looks and smells okay it probably is okay and most things with a little clean will be more hygenic than lots of items you already own.

Imagine a quick makeover. That nasty pine chair could look GREAT with a coat of grey and a bit of a shabby-chic bash around the edges.

See things afresh. Could you use the knobs from that broken drawer? Would that window make a cool picture frame?

And, finally, remember that dignity is overrated. Most of the people that see you digging around in that skip will be jealous when they see the corroded biscuit tin you pull out of it. HA! Take THAT suckers!!