Forget KMart’s pastel and rose gold homewares section or flatpack emporiums. The hottest go-to place in suburbia right now to pick up bargains for your home is the humble nature strip.
Come hard rubbish days, those strips of grass are loaded with often unlikely treasures – chairs (worth reupholstering if they have good bones), lamps (look for retro bases and add a new shade) and glassware.
All you need is a roof rack and some imagination, Welcome to upcycling, a back-to-the-future world where old objects and furniture are repurposed with style and where op shops are Aladdin’s caves.
Better still, you don’t even need to rummage around in someone else’s castoffs. Most houses have their own treasures ready for a second act.
Old TV and entertainment cabinets, decorative ornaments, desks and , bookshelves are found in most households and are ripe for upcycling, according to White Knight paint spokeswoman Cherie Barber.
First step is to take stock of what you’ve already got, and rather than throwing furniture and objects out look for creative ways to upcycle.
“Keep what you’ve already got, because a lot of people do cosmetic renovations around the country and throw out perfectly good stuff,” Ms Barber said.
“You might have a horrible colour vase and you can cosmetically refresh it with spray paint alone and make it look really modern.
“It’s great if you’re trying to get a colour theme, and gives you the ability to personalise a lot of accessories.”
But it’s not just small household items which can be upcycled. Entire rooms can be repurposed without breaking the bank.
“Just because the kitchen cupboard looks old, don’t demolish it. There are lots of great products you can use to make your property look instantly modern.”
The key to a successful home makeover on a shoestring is planning, said Ms Barber.
“Most people fail to have a theme. Normally when you’re renovating you need to decide what style it’s going to be,” she said.
Whether you’re re-doing one room or the whole house, deciding upon your preferred style—from modern to industrial or retro— is essential.
“Style is the grand plan, the big overall look,” Ms Barber said.
“You don’t want each room to look different. A mismatch and lack of continuity devalues the property.”
Once you’ve decided upon a theme you can begin mapping out your plan by ordering tasks in a “logical sequence of events” to avoid having to rework things later.
“Project planning is not a sexy side of renovating, but it’s everything,” Ms Barber said.
While “lack of cash” is the main reason people are upcycling, a growing environmental awareness is also fuelling the trend.
“If we all just ripped things out of houses willy-nilly and threw them in the skip, then landfill, what sort of planet will we end up with?
“Aerosol fabric paint cans cost less than $10 and are so much faster than using brush. You can repurpose a whole piece of furniture in 10 minutes,” she said.
When it comes to upcycling, good surface preparation is essential, Ms Barber said.
“Put in the time to sand back surfaces, read instructions, and look at online videos. Because if you use the products correctly and you’ve prepared the surfaces properly it will last years and years,” she said.
The internet is also a useful tool and can provide tips and inspiration for upcycling projects.
“You don’t have to be a creative genius to look at the internet and pinch some ideas,” Ms Barber said.
“Even if you don’t think you’re naturally handy, work with what you’ve got and you could extend the life of your furniture for five or ten years.”