New Year’s Resolutions? – Sharon Duggan

I love writing out New Year’s resolutions and am pleased to say that my 2021 ones are nearly all done and dusted (just boasting a bit there, forgive me!). It’s got me thinking though that this month it’s a good time to talk about resolutions for 2022. We’ve recently had COP26 in November 2021, and I’ll talk about that next month, but I thought I could talk about changes to the way you think about furnishing your home as a New Year’s resolution. I’ve already talked about my kitchen (quite a while ago now) so this month I want to talk about my spare room, which also doubles up as my study.

It’s a really nice room, but it had become somewhat jaded and was overdue for an overhaul, which I did in 2018. The main thing here is that instead of immediately thinking that you need to replace everything, instead think about creative ways to get a great result for a) very little money and b) using stuff you already have or can pick up second hand or for free. There are numerous places to get second hand stuff these days e.g. Facebook Marketplace, eBay, furniture upcyclers, charity shops and their furniture outlets, and of course Freecycle.

The basic items of furniture in my study/spare room were:

A Bed
The bed was mine when I was a child. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve had it all this time and it’s perfectly comfortable – people who stay even comment on that. Obviously, not all old beds will fare as well, but it just goes to show that if you look after something, it will reward you!

A Bedside Table
The bedside table actually belonged to my grandmother. It’s a small, round table, perfect for a bedside as I suspect it was originally a coffee table. I’ve upcycled it numerous times over the decades.

A Wardrobe
I bought the wardrobe from a junk shop (and what a place they were to get a bargain!) in Cranleigh called Keith’s Treasure Chest. Gosh, I do wish it was still there. I bought it about fifteen years ago for £10 and it cost another £10 to have it delivered. It had a very dark stain on it which I didn’t particularly like, but it stayed like that until 2018 until I finally had the inspiration about what to do with it. Now it looks great and it only cost me the price of the water based paint.

A Settle
I got this was from an antiques and collectors fayre for about £50 I believe. Again, it remained in its original state until I decided what to do with it. I painted it ultimately the same colour as the wardrobe and they look gorgeous together. I also made a seat cushion for it with some foam I already had (I must admit I wouldn’t buy foam, but it had been on an old chair I inherited, and was still in very good nick, so I used it. I covered the seat cushion with some fabric I got second hand off eBay and there was enough to make both the seat cushion, blinds for the window and a chair seat cover for my desk chair (in fact, there’s still some left, plus the fabric was Laura Ashley).

A Chair
I actually can’t remember where the chair came from but I do know that it was given to me. I painted it and as mentioned above, covered the seat.

A Wooden Storage Cabinet
The storage cabinet I bought from a car boot sale when still living in Guildford so that dates it to pre-1999. It originally had drop-down fronts but I took them off as they kept falling open anyway and I painted the whole piece of furniture apart from its wooden top. It’s a great storage unit for all my paperwork.

A Desk
The desk was a second hand Ikea desk off eBay which I painted again except for the top.

As well as these basic items, the picture above the settle was from Barnardo’s in the village and I remember paying a fiver for it. It had a dark frame and a dodgy coloured mount so I repainted the mount white and repainted the frame to go with the room. The picture of sheep above the bed I got for £5 in a fete in Loxwood in 2018. Again, I just re-painted the frame to match the room. The wall mirror was from eBay; I can’t remember how much it cost, but it was no more than about £15.

Both pictures above the desk were given to me: one from a friend and the other belonged to my grandmother.

All the paint used was water based paint. I usually try to use eco-friendly paint but if not, then I use low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, I never use gloss paint, which is high VOC.

The room has its original floor boards and at the time of the photos being taken I still had to sand them down but this had to fit in around work!

All in all, I hope that this has given you something to think about. It’s about trying to change your go-to reaction from “let’s go to Oak Furnitureland” or “Ikea” to “let’s see what we can upcycle from what we’ve already got” or “let’s have a look online to see what second hand stuff there is available”.

Remembering that every new item we buy has a carbon footprint attached to it, the more you can reduce what you buy new the better.

Sharon is an Accredited Climate Change Teacher, she set up and leads both the Cranleigh Climate Action Group and Cranleigh Plant Share (both on Facebook). She also writes on her Facebook page:

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