In this month’s Behind The Brush interview, we’re getting to know avid furniture upcycler and owner of Wear Valley Decorating Centre, Helen Johnson.
It can be so varied. I open the store every morning and stay on the shop floor until 9am. I like to do this as it lets me see and speak with our customers so I can always ensure I am providing the products they want and the service they need. Then it’s upstairs to my office where I can be doing anything from updating our social media, working on financial planning, meeting suppliers, selecting new products or preparing more upcycling projects!
I love the variety. Every day is different and to say I spent my morning transforming a worn chest of drawers and my afternoon selecting new wallpaper lines is a world away from my previous desk job!
Being ‘crafty’ is in our family. We’ve always enjoyed making gifts, cards and having a decorating company in its third generation as part of my heritage means it’s always been natural for me to get out a paint brush for something! We started stocking the Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint as soon as it came out and our interest and enjoyment in upcycling skyrocketed as it’s so simple to use. We have the excuse that our store needs samples or our website needs blog posts, so we are always out at the local charity stores trying to pick out bargains to transform!
Don’t be afraid to try. It’s so easy to just paint over and start again and we’ve found that going for it results in success much more than failure. If it doesn’t look the way we planned, we’ve learnt from this, and perfected and practiced new techniques to get it looking just right ready to try again!
The internet! We’re always scouring Pinterest, websites and blogs for ideas and techniques. Sometimes I like to plan where the item is going in my house so I can take a colour scheme into account; but quite often i like trying different colours so make my house fit my furniture!
Trying to get everything done. I’m spinning a lot of plates at the moment and trying to make sure I cover everything can sometimes mean my to-do list is quite long. I just have to remind myself there is only one of me and I’ll get through it all, it just may not be as quick as i want it to be.
These days when I’m shopping I have my ‘upcycling goggles’ on. I see more affordable pieces of furniture that are cheaper, but have the potential with a bit of a makeover. That gets me started with ideas… on my return home, I pop online and check to see if there are any great ideas I can use for my project.
That’s a really tough question! I absolutely love the Lloyd loom chair I did recently as it’s a huge transformation..it is a fabulous mix of a vintage piece with a hugely modern finish, and includes using the chalk paint to use fabric which was a first for me.
Also, I absolutely love the Stag chest of drawers. Inspired from a set of handles I bought whilst getting my weekly food shop and transformed in half a day it just shows you can deliver something in the latest ‘Scandi’ trend that has cost a quarter of a pot of paint and some new handles!
I had so much fun working with Hochanda and travelling down to do the shows. They are such a fun and creative bunch. During set up and between shows the staff were constantly popping over looking for tips, ideas and inspiration as everyone is getting the upcycling bug! To be able to present such a brilliant brand as Rust-Oleum and help to inspire people to give it a try at home gave me such a buzz and I had an excuse to talk about what I love to a huge group of people! They’ve still got some of my samples as set pieces for their other shows!
Wear Valley Decorating Centre is my family business that has a heritage spanning over 30 years and three generations. It’s built on a foundation of a great product selection, knowledge and customer service. going forward, I would like to expand our online presence via our e-commerce website an through an inspirational blog. My blog will be a place for idea generation – showing hints, tips and techniques needed for interior design projects.