Shabby to chic: Meet the upcycler who loves transforming old furniture and kitchens
Our home should be a reflection of our personality,believes Jodie Baker, who transforms old furniture into bespoke contemporary pieces.
What started as a hobby during maternity leave has become a thriving business for the 37-year-old whose creative skills are in great demand.
She has a passion for giving hidden treasures, family heirlooms and unwanted items destined for landfill a new lease of life.
Although 90 per cent of her work comes from commissions, she always keeps an eye out for stylish, good quality pieces that she can work her magic on to sell in her shop.
"I like quirky pieces. As along as the shape and style of the furniture is unique, I can make something interesting. I love the Stag range of furniture so if I see any of that, I'm snapping it up," says Jodie, who lives in Wolverhampton.
It all started when she inherited some of her grandmother's furniture after moving from a one bedroom flat to a three bedroom house.
The dated pieces weren't to her taste so Jodie decided to try her hand at painting the wood to give it a more modern appearance. As well as furniture, she also sanded and painted the dark wooden floorboards in her new home.
Soon afterwards, the mother of two began completing projects for friends and family before taking on commissions via Facebook.
"It rapidly grew into full-time work through word of mouth. It's been full-time work for five years now and I'm fully booked for commissions until June," explains Jodie.
Last July, she opened her showroom, Not Too Shabby By Jodie, at Garden Village on Bridgnorth Road which also includes her workshop.
The aim, with every piece she works on, is to "highlight its original beauty and charm". Jodie is completely self-taught having learned the different refinishing techniques with the help of online tutorials - and, of course, lots of practice.
"I started by asking people for advice and I watched a hell of a lot of YouTube videos. It was trial and error at first. There is a lot more to it than slapping paint on. I've spent a long time learning my craft," she says.
When she starts a refinishing project, the first thing she does is strip the furniture to remove any existing varnish before giving it a thorough clean.
Next, Jodie sands the wood to make it easier for the paint to adhere to the surface before applying a primer. Using a brush, she then starts painting the piece, including applying a top coat, to achieve the desired look. A layer of wax may also be added as a protective finish.
Any features such as handles will be cleaned and waxed to brighten up the metal.
"People bring me items that have been handed down to them but don't fit their modern decor. Your home should reflection of your personality. I've done pieces in bright yellow, pink, with unicorns and with pineapples. It can be something beautiful and bespoke for your home," she says.
Some pieces of furniture, especially those that have been handed down through the generations, can have a lot of sentimental meaning for their owner.
"I worked on a dressing table from the 1920s, an art-deco piece, for a lady. It had been given to her husband's grandmother as a wedding present.
"She wanted to give it to her daughter but she was terrified of getting it painted. I transformed it for her so she could give it to her daughter and now it has been used by three generations."
Jodie often 'rescues' pieces of furniture that are being thrown out and browses charity shops to find potential gems to refresh.
"I get a lot of people contacting me and saying 'do you want this? It's going to the tip'. I'm a sucker for that because I want to keep things out of landfill. It seems silly to throw old furniture away when there is nothing wrong with it and to replace it with something that does the same job," she tells Weekend.
Another benefit of reusing older furniture is that the quality is usually much higher and it will last for longer. "A lot of new furniture feels very heavy but it's just plywood with veneer coating, it's not solid wood. The quality is not the same as furniture made 50 or 100 years ago," says Jodie.
She has recently started offering a painting service for kitchen cupboards, fitted wardrobes and bedroom and dining suites.
"It's much cheaper to do than buying a new kitchen. If you're first time buyers and you've moved into a house with old kitchen cupboards from the 80s, painting them can transform them for the fraction of the price of a new kitchen," Jodie tells Weekend.
Whether it's dressing table or a kitchen cupboard, seeing the transformation at the end always makes hard work worthwhile for Jodie, who loves to compare the before and after pictures.
"Some pieces are a dream to work on, some require a lot of work. I love the whole transformation and seeing the look on people's faces when they see their furniture for the first time. It can get quite emotional."
To see more of Jodie's transformations visit facebook.com/nottooshabbybyjodie or nottooshabbybyjodie.com