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Turning trash into treasure for your home

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Some people find home decor inspiration flipping through magazines; Monica Dunstan combs through junk.

The 30-year-old scours yard sales, thrift shops and even the dump, for slightly worn or damaged items.

She transforms them and puts them up for sale on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, under Luxecycle Bermuda.

“My idea in starting this was to provide cute decor items for low cost to Bermudians and also to garner awareness about what I do,” she said.

“I started taking before and after pictures of my projects and posting them online, so if someone likes something they know what it used to look like and can see how it's now become something fab for their home.”

She is as amazed today by how much people throw away as she was when she started out ten years ago.

“People waste so much,” she said. “A large percentage of furniture I find laying around will be slightly damaged. For instance, one leg is broken off a desk or chair, but you can easily repurpose that into something else.

“Some people lack the tactical ability to do it, other people just don't have the time. I feel like we're quite wasteful in Bermuda and saw a niche in the market to do something about that.”

One her first major furniture finds was an old, outdated settee. Underneath the tacky fabric, however, it had great wooden legs.

“I got it reupholstered professionally and then painted [over the wood] myself,” she said.

“Another time I was running with my dog on the Railway Trail and found two outdoor chairs left there.

“I thought I would just spray them down with the outdoor spray-paint, but with all the metal and wire detailing it was harder than I thought.

“That's when I learnt not to spray paint in the wind. I botched the first job and then had to sand it down and spray-paint it again. My dog also ended up with spray-paint on her, but those are some things we still have today. They still look nice.”

Ms Dunstan has found that many people like the idea of DIY, but lack the skills to follow through.

They also do not like the mess.

“It can get really messy,” she said. “My hands usually have some kind of paint on them and my nails are constantly being broken.”

She took art and design courses at the Bermuda College before becoming a teacher.

With Luxecycling she gets to focus on another of her interests — minimising her ecological footprint.

“I will drive across someone's trash and see a piece of furniture outside. I'll grab it and repurpose it for my house,” she said.

“With the economic situation as it is and the environmental crisis the way it is around the world, repurposing ‘junk', as it's called by most people, it kind of felt like a natural progression for me to use both of my interests.”

Most of the tricks of the trade she learnt from her dad.

“Tools don't intimidate me,” she said. I spent a lot of time with my father when I was younger and I just happened to be really good at hands-on types of things like that. A lot of stuff just makes sense to me in terms of using hammers and tools.”

Watercolour paintings, candles made from old tea cups and frames from wooden pallets are just a few of her recent creations.

“I've also taken some old windows that I found at a house,” she said. “The owners had just replaced their windows and were going to throw the old ones away. I'm planning on turning those into message centres, so one part of the window will have a chalk board and another will have a white board that someone can write messages on or their to-do lists.”

Ms Dunstan finds inspiration everywhere she looks.

“A few months ago I found a whole heap of vintage maps, some will be framed and others will be turned into placemats and coasters with the maps mounted on them,” she said. “I found them in a flea market shop in Bristol in the UK. I also find a lot of cool things at [local thrift store] The Barn. It's a lot of fun to see how I can turn nothing into something.”

From drab to fab: Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old furniture into chic and stylish items for people's homes. The 30-year-old stripped the paint off this window and will mould it into a message board (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes. The 30-year-old stripped the paint off this window and will mould it into a message board (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes. She is yet to decide what this rustic ladder will be turned into (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes. This old cable spool was turned into a colourful outdoor table (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes. She has yet to be inspired by this rustic ladder, but plans to give it a new lease of life (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Monica Dunstan, founder of Luxecycle Bermuda, transforms old pieces into something chic and stylish for people's homes. The 30-year-old stripped the paint off this window and will mould it into a message board (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published September 01, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 31, 2015 at 11:17 pm)

Turning trash into treasure for your home

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