It's all about re-loving, baby

ERIN BOYLE
Last updated 14:08 27/08/2014

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It was a hunt for unique furniture that led interior stylist Heidi Altmann down the path of re-loving.

Trying to purchase items for her clients, she was finding it difficult to source pieces that were 'different' - a key aspect of her interior design work - so she decided to solve the problem herself, by creating a new life for neglected furniture. And while giving a bit of TLC to various items, she manages to meet a few other needs along the way. 

"I'm a bit of a greenie, and the idea of cheap and nasty veneer, or MDF mass produced furniture - likely to end up in landfill pretty quickly - is something that I like to stay away from. I also love being able to take a piece that perhaps has sentimental value, but is lacking in the looks department, or something that someone no longer wants, and create something that is more in keeping with my aesthetic, give it a whole new life.

"Re-loved pieces can add so much personality and individuality to an interior, compared to an 'off the shelf' piece."

For Altmann, re-loving is about taking an item and creating a better version of it by using its existing bones. It's different to recycling, which she differentiates as taking waste materials and turning them into a new product or material, like bottles or plastic bags. But it is probably safe to say that these varying degrees of recycling, up-cycling and pre- and post- loving, have all stemmed from the same place. 

RE-LOVING'S ECO ROOTS

"I think that the recent growth in popularity of re-loving comes from the fact that people are becoming more environmentally conscious," says Altmann.

"Perhaps the low economic climate has been another contributing factor to the 'up-cycling' movement, people are definitely more aware of their spending and have had to become more thrifty."

When it comes to looking for pieces to re-love, Altmann is always keen to only take on items that need the most work and prefers to leave antique or vintage pieces that are in beautiful, original condition completely alone. Unique and one-of-a-kind, Altmann's pieces can never be replicated 100 per cent, but she is certainly happy to share her secrets to success.

TIPS FOR NOVICE 'RE-LOVERS' 

When it comes to hunting for furniture items to 're-love', Altmann says think about what you'd like the finished piece to look like because this will make it easier to find your item without becoming overwhelmed or deviating off track.

She also says to think about the style; for example a Mid-Century modern piece with clean, minimal lines will not work with a shabby, distressed paint finish.

"Scope out items that are fairly solid, or need little repair. Find something that actually needs re-loving, and that will fit with your brief; if you're painting the whole piece, you can cover a multitude of sins but if you want a wood finish, veneer is not your friend, so make sure that it's solid wood. Look past handles too, as these are easy to change, and can make a huge difference."

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- Want to create your very own re-loved piece? Then check back for Heidi's 'how to' this Friday.    

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