Renovation show has empowering feel

Last updated 10:19 27/06/2013

DREAM HOME: Kirstie Allsopp's ethos is, old doesn't mean bad.

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The entire pestilence of house up-do programmes, possibly the least disempowering is Kirstie's Vintage Home, Choice, Tuesdays.

That's not to say it's not irritating, repetitive and sometimes intelligence-affronting. But at least it doesn't leave the viewer feeling second-rate and guilty because it's been 10 years since they "upgraded" perfectly serviceable rooms.

Kirstie Allsopp's ethos is, old doesn't mean bad. It's refreshingly impossible to imagine her ripping out original timber kitchen joinery in favour of chip-prone composite stuff just because it requires no muscle-tone on the part of the cupboard and drawer-opener to operate; or condoning faux-rustic new timber joinery that sacrifices the authentic rusticity of the actual forest from which it came. It's really quite a green programme, and almost anti-fashion – except in as much as up-cycling is a very hipsterish thing to do.

The only drawback is that the "finds" from which Allsopp furnishes her subjects' homes are drawn from the richer European stock available to British second-hand shoppers, compared with our limited and picked-over op-shop fare – which internet trading has further limited.

But the sentiment is still empowering. With very little money but a lot of quite absorbing effort based on easily acquired new skills, Changing Rooms-style decorating is possible. You don't even need a chap with a jigsaw and a pile of medium-density fibre-board.

This week's episode featured a lesson on gold leaf application and picture framing, which tarted up odd prints and photos a couple had collected on their world travels into bought-looking objets d'art.

A broken art deco glass mosaic lamp was restored after a simple stained-glass lesson.

A shabby old chair was inexpensively reborn – though the simple design will have been integral to keeping the cost down.

Last came a demonstration of the most basic sewing machine skills, using recycled fabric to make curtains, hangings and simple toys out of old clothing and other repurposed fabric and buttons. The up-doing husband excelled at this.

Allsopp is also knowledgeable about the history of furniture and household goods, so there are nuggets for antique-hankerers, too.

It is, of course, highly likely that the results will still look like ghastly tat to many viewers. But they have the consolation of a thick slew of renovation-themed commercials each ad break featuring shiny all-new homes and interiors.


The Most Hated Family in America, 8.30pm, BBC Knowledge

An oldie, but one to watch again, in order to keep front-of-mind that bigotry thrives. BBC social adventurer Louis Theroux interviews the Phelps of Kansas, who devoutly believe it is their job to campaign on behalf of God to oppose homosexuality – to the point of sending children about with "God hates fags!" placards.

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- The Dominion Post


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