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New life for old: Meet the upcycler transforming unwanted furniture from the past

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

Caroline Holding has a knack for turning unwanted furniture into something bright, quirky and fun.

Caroline Holding from Dawley restores old pieces of furniture and covers them with vintage-style papers

And she is not afraid of her unique pieces standing out in a room saying “the more colour, the better”.

Since being made redundant 18 months ago she has thrown herself into giving tired-looking cabinets, tables, desks and other pieces a new lease of life.

Using bright wallpapers and posters with bold designs and prints, she transforms them into one of a kind items that really catch the eye.

“I needed to find something to do to earn a bit of money and keep myself busy. I made bits and bobs for myself but when I sold my first piece, it got exciting and I kept going,” says Caroline, who lives in Dawley, Telford.

It wasn’t long before more and more of her pieces were flying out of the door as soon as she had finished them and she now has a large following on her Tattylicious Facebook page.

The 54-year-old loves visiting the likes of charity shops in the hope of finding old, quality furniture that’s just in need of a little bit of TLC and a fresh new look.

Caroline loves anything colourful, bold and eye-catching

She is never afraid of a restoration project and is talented at carrying out repairs to pieces that have had a hard life and replacing missing legs and broken drawers.

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“I like anything vintage. I don’t like cheap, chipboard furniture, I like proper wooden furniture from the 60s and 70s. There is some beautiful vintage furniture around,” she tells Weekend.

Some of the items that Caroline has already transformed include glass cabinets, bureaus, chests of drawers and bookcases.

When choosing which pieces of furniture to buy, she has to be on her guard for woodworm and the tell tale signs which are small round holes like those on a dart board.

“You have to be careful of woodworm because it affects the quality of the furniture.

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“Sometimes you don’t see it until you start cleaning and you see the little holes. Luckily, I’ve only had two pieces like that,” Caroline tells Weekend.

After buying her vintage pieces and getting her purchases home, it’s time for her to decide how she is going to upcycle them.

“Sometimes I look at them and I know exactly what I’m going to do straight away. If I don’t I’ll put them in my dining room, as I can see it from my living room.

“I’ll be sat watching TV and I’ll keep looking over at it and thinking about what I can do. It can sometimes take a few days before I know what I want to do with them,” she says.

Caroline enjoys experimenting with different techniques such as colour blending

One she has a definite plan in mind, Caroline gets to work with the first stage involving cleaning the furniture and carrying out any necessary repairs.

“Each piece takes a couple of days. The first is spent preparing it, cleaning, sanding it and fixing anything that needs fixing. The second day is spent decorating it, which is the fun bit,” she explains.

To bring her pieces to life she always chooses papers with vibrant designs and textures as well as bright paints. Some of the most eye-catching papers include one covered in pink flamingos and green leaves and a tiger print velvet flock wallpaper which is soft to touch. “B&Q has some nice wallpapers. I like anything colourful and bright,” says Caroline, who works on her upcycling projects in her dining room.

Caroline has also applied posters such as ones of Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles but says this technique requires patience and a delicate hand.

“Applying the poster can be tricky as you only get one chance due to the paper they use and the glue can bubble so unless you have a constant supply of them, you get one shot to get it right,” she explains.

All of her finished pieces are advertised for sale on her Facebook page and more often than not she doesn’t have to wait long before they attract a buyer.

“My husband is my biggest critic so if he likes it I know it’s good. As soon as I put them on Facebook a lot of them go straight away. I have a lot of return customers who have bought from me before and keep coming back. A lot of buyers are local but I have delivered to other places like Hampshire,” says Caroline.

All of Caroline's pieces are unique and sold through her Facebook page

As well as displaying her latest items for sale, she also gives her followers an insight into the restoration and decoration processes.

Caroline who has taught herself new techniques with the help of YouTube tutorials, has recently been experimenting with colour blending to create an ombre effect.

She has used this on a French-style cabinet with curved legs where she has blended blue into pink and used decorative flower transfers to bring the colourful design together.

“I like turning something old and battered into something new. It’s like it’s the ugly duckling and I’m turning it into something beautiful – and I’m also saving it from landfill,” Caroline explains.

She says she is delighted with the response her creations are receiving and that she is able to make items that people want to buy.

“It’s nice that I have achieved success from doing something that I enjoy doing. I don’t like doing the same thing every day, I like doing different things and with this every day is different,” adds Caroline.

To view Caroline’s latest work go to www.facebook.com/tattyliciouss

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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