Easy steps to upcycle your own furniture!

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on August 5, 2010 1 Comment
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Container house and recycled furniture from Cafe Direct

Container house and recycled furniture from Cafe Direct

This week’s guest post is from Yasmin Koomar, Experiential manager at Cafédirect.

Yasmin has been working closely with eco-design duo Tilly and Wayne Hemingway to build a totally upcycled coffee container house from reclaimed furniture for people to sample their award winning coffee around the UK.

Cafédirect’s Container House is an upcycled haven for coffee lovers, designed by Wayne and Tilly Hemingway and created from an old shipping container it’s kitted out with beautiful coffee sack chairs, an upcycled canopy and vintage accessories.

Deciding to upcycle a shipping container into a travelling house, to offer samples of our Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro coffee from, was only the start! We wanted the whole Container House to be made from entirely sustainable and reclaimed materials and be stylish, cool and comfortable. It seemed only natural that we work with eco-design pioneers HemingwayDesign to make this happen.

Wayne Hemingway said he had “always hugely admired Cafédirect for its pioneering business model and ethical spirit,” so it was great to have his support on the Container House creation.
“In the spirit of the whole venture, we’ve partnered with community projects… Sustainability in furniture design is an issue close to my heart and it’s been great to experiment with the used coffee sacks.” added Wayne about the project.

We’ve put together some easy step by step tips to create your own coffee sack, reclaimed chairs:

Find unloved, discarded furniture

We teamed up with Restore, a community project based in North London, to find all of our furniture. Restore receive unwanted furniture which they then renovate and sell to those who cannot afford new, swish furniture. We love their approach to recycling old to make new and couldn’t have found a better partner for this project.

Wayne’s daughter, Tilly Hemingway, joined us in our search making sure that we had a really eclectic selection of chairs and tables from different eras and styles.

The chair structural styles and materials are so varied too – some types include oak, pine and metal, which helps keep each one individual.

Tilly chooses chairs at Restore

Tilly chooses chairs at Restore

Sanding and painting

All of the tables and chairs were then sanded down so there was a clean, even surface to paint on. The frames were then painted black to give them a stylish finish & contrast with the bright colours of the printed sacking)

Victor Brilliant, chair of Restore (pictured here), carried out a lot of the renovation and was excited to be working on the Cafédirect project: “There’s a hierarchy in the recycling world. If you’re recycling then you’re taking out old newspapers and mashing them up to make something new. If you’re reusing then you’re taking something discarded and giving it a new use, which is one better than recycling. But we’re going one better than that, we’re upcycling – transforming something that’s been discarded into something which, we think, is better than the original!”

Victor paints the wooden frames black

Victor paints the wooden frames black

Coffee sack upholstery

Over the summer, we’ll be sampling our Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro from the Cafédirect Container House.

Machu Picchu is grown by smallholder farmers (like Alejandro here) at the COCLA co-operative on the lush, green slopes around Machu Picchu in Peru. These organic beans are cultivated carefully to preserve their natural flavour and capture that irresistible dark chocolatey taste.

Kilimanjaro is grown by KNCU co-operative by smallholder farmers (like Denis Shio here) and the fertile volcanic soil of Mount Kilimanjaro gives the coffee its lively character and natural zing.

To make the Container House even more unique, we have only used coffee sacks from COCLA and KNCU – its fun to think people will be drinking our coffee while sitting on the sacks that transported it! All of the coffee sacks and the chair padding were treated with a fire retardant spray. They were also brushed to remove some of the stray, hessian fibres .They then become really tactile and really comfy to sit on.

Cover your tables and deckchairs too!

To create a perfect dining room set-up, you’ll need to renovate some tables too. We chose a variety of table designs so could get really creative with the coffee sack re-upholstery.

For example, we chose a nest of 3 mahogany tables with glass in the middle. We replaced the glass with a small section from the coffee sacks – a nice, hardy fabric to rest your coffee cup on!

And we didn’t stop at tables either. We’ve got coffee sack deckchairs, planters and even a bookcase!

Cocla table

Cocla table

Make a cup of coffee and relax

When you’ve finished, it’s time to pop the kettle on, make a cup of your favourite Cafédirect coffee, tea or hot chocolate and relax on your new upcycled furniture!

You could even invite your friends over and show off your handiwork too.

If you decide to have a go we’d love to see photos of your creations – please send to [email protected] or post directly on to our Facebook page.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (1)

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  1. I love that table, think its great!

    Brilliant work guys!

    Such a good idea to encourage recycling and less waste around the house, looks really vintage and unique too.

    Thanks for sharing!

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