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Q&A: Hector & Bailey

Jess Binns is an interior designer and has created a range of ‘upcycled’ furniture and decor items under her brand, Hector & Bailey. In October she will be running a workshop with the Miss+Meisie collaborative project, teaching creatives how to transform a drawer with wallpaper and paint. Here, Jess shares her insight and tips on upcycling. Why is upcycling popular and what are the advantages? Upcycling has always been there, but I think its surge in popularity came from the need to be more conscious of our environment and our desire for sustainable products. It's a cost-saving solution, so I think when the recession hit in 2009, many of us turned to our creative side to provide what our wallets could not! The advantages are endless, from the feel good factor of transforming a worn out, unloved piece and bringing a sense of history to a space to providing a talking point... the list is endless! What are your tips for upcycling a piece? If you are new to upcycling, start with something simple and relatively easy to work on. A decoratively carved wooden sideboard with 10 coats of paint is sure to put you off for life. Rather look for flat surfaces, solid timber and well-made items that show no signs of wood borer or damage that's beyond mending. Preparation is always key, no paint will stay on if you don't use primer first. I use a great product by Eco Earth paints which will adhere to most paints and a great variety of surfaces. Annie Sloan Chalk paints have also arrived in South Africa, so if you are short of time or patience, this is a great product to use. How do you pick colours to update a piece, whilst still complimenting your decor style? Be brave! Chances are you haven't spent a fortune so therefore you must play with colour and push your interior comfort zones. There are some beautiful colours coming out right now. I'm about to embark on Plascon's Fuzzy Peach, a hot coral pink that I know is going to grab everyone's attention! If you really are all about the neutral palette you can’t go wrong with greys, off-whites and powder blues, but perhaps add an accent on a highlighted area, like the rim of a table, or the handles. What are some alternatives to using paint to update an item? Paint is just one way of transforming something old. There are other ways to add a new spin such as using fabrics and wallpapers or other products like washi tape, which is great for adding interest to a piece. Upcycling doesn't stop with furniture, you can literally take anything old and update it. Take a look at my upcycled tapestry cushions as an example. Compiled by Nadia van der Mescht