Kirstie’s Homemade Home is the latest TV venture from mydeco Design Board member, Kirstie Allsopp. Last year, her boyfriend bought a derelict cottage in Devon as a surprise. Allsopp transformed the property with homemade furniture and accessories. Here, she tells mydeco about learning crafts.
Kirstie traipsed around auction houses, artisan studios, charity shops, even skips in the West Country for inspiration and bargains. She learnt trades from local craftspeople and artisans to furnish her new abode. Meadowgate will become her holiday home and be rented out for the rest of the year.
Kirstie was on a mission to show us that it’s possible to find – and make – beautiful, stylish products on our own soil and on a shoestring budget.
Over the past six months Kirstie has tried her hand at fifteen different crafts, from upholstery to iron mongering, and each hard–grafted creation now takes pride of place at Meadowgate. Filling the house with unique, hand-made pieces was ‘immensely satisfying’ Kirstie says: ‘I call it Steptoe meets Stepford.’
Kirstie tells mydeco about her favourite crafty exeriences
1. Flower arranging – When you want instant gratification, flower arranging does the trick. It’s also very easy to see how you are saving money by not having to buy an arrangement.
2. Cushion making – This was nostalgically lovely because it reminded me of lost skills – so many mums had sewing machines when I was growing up but as a nation we’ve lost the ability to mend and create things ourselves. Rediscovering sewing was like riding a bicycle.
3. Glass blowing – It was terrifying! You have to work with a huge hot thing that could drip molten glass anywhere. It was the first craft I did, and I kept thinking, ‘I’m not going to be able to do any of this. What have I got myself into?’ I made a glass that looked very different to the one by the professional Will Shakespeare of Shakespeare Glass in Taunton. But it was immensely satisfying.
4. Potting – This is a lovely activity for making kitchen accessories. I made a sugar bowl that I will use and treasure every day of my life. The pleasure of the hand–made is that you can make your home say something about you.
5. Wallpaper making – I helped to print the wallpaper and then hung it in the house. It was amazing to meet the talented artist who makes it, Emma Molony in Exeter. The design we used was inspired by Edwardian novelist Saki’s (H.H.Munro) Devonian childhood, so it was very fitting. And screen printing is so much fun!
6. Lampshade making – This very fashionable craft is actually easier than you would think. You can buy kits nowadays that you can put together really quickly. I used a special type of sticky–back plastic.
7. Knitting – I met Suzie Johnson from the Wool Sanctuary and had a go at making a draft excluder, which was really fun. It has on it two fish, two beach huts and two sand castles. Knitting is so cheap; it shows you can really brighten up your house for not a lot.
8. Stained glass windows – I headed to Abinger Stained Glass in Surrey to learn how to make a leaded panel. I wanted to match the panel with the colours of my bathroom. I came away with a beautiful free–hanging glass panel, which not only looks lovely but gives me a real sense of pride.
9. Candle making – Candle making is so easy to do at home. I had great fun learning the tricks of the trade from David Constable of Candle Makers Supplies.
10. Iron mongering – This was one of the more adventurous experiences but wonderful! I made a poker for the fire that will last a lifetime.
We must treasure crafts like quilting, and basket making, and pottery, and encourage them. They’re often taught in evening classes. Get out there! Isn’t it just common sense these days when we are all tight for cash, to try and save a little bit, or rather, not spend so much?
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