Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Money For Nothing – Trash To Treasure

sarah moore money for nothing bbc

We’ve been catching up with this BBC series about recycling stuff that other people are throwing away. Have you watched any of these programmes?

Each episode follows exactly the same format - At the council tip, Sarah Moore saves three things from being dumped, finds craftspeople who will transform them into bespoke and valuable pieces, then returns the profits back to the people who threw the items away. Some of the changes are brilliant – like these  black chairs thrown out by a tennis club [restored by Jay Blades]


Others are a little more quirky, and not what I’d want around my home. Like weird lamps

ragandbone mans lamp0

And I am constantly amazed that Sarah takes things like this – made out of old scrap metal, and manages to find someone in London who will pay £650 to have this in their home!

When I had my first flat, in 1977, Joan, a friend of my Mum, gave me an old writing bureau that she was planning to throw away.


It looked something like this – about 26” across, 40” high – with a sloping drop flap at the top, revealing three sections, and sliding doors at the bottom. Its made of pretty cheap timber, stained dark brown. When I acquired it, there was no glass in the middle section. I kept books and things in it.

P1020279Then it got a makeover. Bob removed the drop flap, gave it a coat of paint, and it went into Steph’s bedroom in Kirby. Since she went off to Uni, I have used it for storing haberdashery. But now it has been changed again. I have removed the sliding doors at the bottom and it is a bookcase.


No longer having any kitchen bookshelves, this is now where most of my cookbooks live, and a few craft books as well [taller tomes are on an adjacent bookcase]. It forms part of the Ferndown Library-On-The-Landing, which is something of a work in progress.

joans bureau

Maybe the changes to my bureau are not as dramatic as the ones on Sarah’s programme, but it is still good to transform something which was destined for landfill into an item which is both attractive and useful. I don’t suppose that Joan would have ever imagined I’d still be using her old bureau nearly 40 years later.

Have you any special pieces of recycled furniture?


  1. I have seen this programme and been staggered by some of the re-makes. I'm not sure the title is very good as none of the remakes are money for nothing and as most of us don't have access to these clever, quirky designers we wouldn't be able to replicate many of the things they show (even if we wanted to!). But I think if it makes people think twice about what they throw out then it is a good thing. We salvaged a table from a pile of stuff our previous neighbours were about to have a bonfire with, it looked a bit tired but after some TLC and a few coats of chalk paint our daughter now has it as a desk in her room and it looks great.

  2. Nothing really "special " as such.....but husband is re-using old kitchen units out in the garage . The garage is SO chocablock with our old stuff , both my grown up girls stuff..stuff , stuff and yet more stuff...you'd have a job to get to them ! :) It's quite frightening ! Best just to pull down the garage door ,walk away and forget about it ! : )

    1. I think a lot of garages are furnished with old kitchen units! I knew someone who told her daughters when they moved out that they could only leave behind one suitcase of stuff each! I must be rather soft, still storing their children's books, odd bits of Bunnykins china, and a few dolls etc, just in case they ever need them...

  3. When I was a teenager I was telling Mum to chuck out my old stuff. In my 30's my Mum had a cleaner who, from the airing cupboard, unearthed one of my baby dresses. Mum was going to throw it but the cleaner persuaded her to ask me first and yes, I found I did want it. It hangs in our bedroom and my husband loves it! So perhaps you are wise to save these things, Ang. As for furniture, recently for the first time we bought a sofa, brand new. Most of our furniture is second hand, bought or given and we have restored some. We have a junk shop coffee table, painted and wallpaper put under the glass inset. A glazed bookcase saved from a bonfire; a couple of oak cabinets bought from a friend; a reproduction sideboard and glazed top half, bought from Banardo's; a chest of drawers from a late and well-loved neighbour; a bedside table given by a friend, the two armchairs from a friend and from a junkshop. The best of all is the traditional style, mohogany sideboard my father made for my mother in the 1950's.

  4. I have my Dad's bureau, which he bought in 1975. I've given it several makeovers since it came into my posession about 18 years ago. It currently stands in the conservatory and was transformed with a £1 roll of vintage Laura Ashley wallpaper which I bought at the carboot.

  5. I love the longevity in this makeover! I have my sister's old bathroom drawers from 3houses ago which I store craft stuff.x

  6. I love your LotL! Chairs have been the theme of our September. Tiles will be October's. Unfortunately they are all about paying for new, and paying for tiler! Unless Prince Charming does it...


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