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Kirstie's Vintage Home
Kirstie Allsopp has explored her love of crafts with her previous series Kirstie’s Handmade Britain, Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas and Kirstie’s Homemade Home. Now in Kirstie’s Vintage Home she helps people refresh their homes by showing them the craft skills they need to revamp their furniture and interiors and get their places looking the way they want…
You’ve said that you believe everyone has a craft in them.
I promise you. Everyone. Because it’s so diverse. You have got it in you. It’s just a matter of finding it.
Did the people you help in Kirstie’s Vintage Home take to the crafting, or did they struggle?
Some people struggled with making things. We had one person who struggled with sowing and he was frankly disastrous. And he’d never bought anything second hand in his life. By the time he’d finished he had made the most beautiful lamp and was a car boot and antiques market legend!
And did you decorate furniture that people ended up hating?
No, it’s very consultative because I’m not good when it’s not. I know that TV production people can make people do anything. If they don’t think the contributors are happy I get a bit upset about it. So no, touch wood. Someone might come out and say, ‘Actually it was a horrific experience and I didn’t like what they did,’ but I hope not.
Was it easy to persuade people to adopt your vision for their homes?
Ah. Good question. I think that you don’t apply to be on the show if you aren’t confident about me.
You help transform five homes, but you also help with a vintage wedding don’t you?
It was great but I was very nervous about it, I really was, because I didn’t want anything to go wrong. It was heavenly though. It was the first day the sun shone this summer. We were all completely panicked about the weather.
You know what TV folk are like — they are obsessed with TV. How can we make this show good? I sat everyone down and said, ‘Right. For starters, when they say, “I do,” and you realise you haven’t got the shot you wanted, you can’t ask them to say it again. This is a real wedding. We are lucky to be a part of this. Can you please remember that it’s not a TV show with a wedding in it, it’s a wedding with some cameras in it.’
We created this marquee, this wedding room for the day, which just looked so beautiful. They never felt that their wedding had been intruded on in any way. They sent me the most lovely letter. It was one of the most treasured thank you letters I’ve ever had.
Was there a theme to the wedding?
He is in the army and what was quite important to the family is that it had a slightly military feel, and a bit of an old-fashioned feel. A big part of it was getting friends and family to participate in making things. Certain people were asked to bring a pudding. I did a strawberry cheesecake. The pudding table looked absolutely beautiful.
Where did your love of crafts and vintage come from?
It’s genetic to a certain extent in that my father’s an antique dealer and my mother is an interior decorator. I was brought up very fortunately in a large country house full of old things. My mother’s sewing machine had a special place in the kitchen. She would make things and she can alter anything. I went to a party recently that my mother was at. It was the 60th of a friend of my parents and she was wearing a dress that I borrowed from her 23 years ago to wear to the 21st birthday party of one of my greatest friends. That’s quite something to be able to keep something that long.
I don’t do chucking out. My other half doesn’t do chucking out. His parents have the most extraordinary antique shop in Kensington Church Street, and they have run it for 50 years.
You pick up things from auctions, antique and flea markets, and even on the side of the road. Have you ever been defeated by anything you’ve collected?
I’m defeated by something at the moment. I don’t know how it entered our home because my other half gets things willy nilly as well. He won’t let me reupholster anything, so I have to deal with what something is covered with. Usually I get some new cushions and I can get a throw over it, and you can cover it up. But there’s a sofa floating around our house in Devon and I keep moving it from room to room and I can’t make it work anywhere. It’s driving me bananas! This is said with feeling.
Have you got some simple tips for people to revamp their own home and give it a vintage feel?
Whether you’re into vintage or not, often when you move in you just plonk furniture down in the room you think it should be in. You don’t really think is that the best room for it to be in. So sometimes just moving stuff around the room or the house is a good way of moving forward if you want to freshen up. I’m always thinking how can you freshen up without spending money.
Secondly, I’m a big wallpaper fan. So a really pretty wallpaper — and there are a lot of really good value ones — is a very good start if you want to make something feel a bit more old-fashioned. Then just get familiar with your local car boot sales — find out where your local authority dump is, where people will take things and you can pick things up.
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