Chalk one up to Kiwi ingenuity

00:30, Jun 25 2014
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS: Anna Poff at work in Kate Harper’s garage during one of the upcycling sessions.

Move over book club - there's a new gang in town. Sophie Preece sees how the Upcycling Group is giving vintage some va-voom.

There's a swishing of brushes, a bustling of activity, a clinking of glasses and a backdrop of constant chatter.

Something is going on in the Harper garage, and it sure ain't book club.

ARTY: Bek Scherp buries animal skulls brought home by her hunter husband so the worms can clean them up, then dries them in the sun before painting them and hanging them as striking artworks.

Instead, a group of female friends have come together for their regular Upcycling Group, where the evening is spent transforming dated furniture into enviable pieces with surprisingly little effort.

A walnut veneer 1970s dresser is now distressed in duck egg blue.

A shiny brown vase, long relegated to garage storage, has found itself centre stage after similar treatment.



The club's instigator and hostess Kate Harper was inspired by an upstyled lamp she bought at Rangiora design store Femme de Brocante, where she also picked up her first pots of chalk paint.

Now her home and massage clinic have gained much-needed furniture that looks a million bucks, but cost anything from a few dollars to a few hundred.

After a few projects, Kate decided to copy the multitude of Marlborough book clubs and produce a renovated version of her own, its members wielding paint in lieu of pages.

She and Bek Scherp, who also loves transforming unwanted stuff into stylish pieces, pulled together a group of friends they knew were the type to tinker.

They say the ease of using the paint is the secret of the club's success, because with no preparation, quick work and easy clean up, projects can be started and finished before the bottle is.

"When we get together it's more about drinking wine, though we do splash a bit of paint around," says Bek.

They all share their ideas, which so far have included making door stops from old wooden blankets, painted skulls, chairs, tables and that once-ignored, now valued vase. See next week's Home page for some easy "how to" upcycling projects.