Make Do and Mend: Christmas Twist

At Pig Row we have an old tongue and groove door that sits in the back yard, the area we call the cloister; the yard is hemmed in by stone walls. The door has sat there for a year. Prior to this it hung on the wood screen that formed the wall that made the larder. This wall came down some years back, through a mixture of rotten wood and the need to relay the floor the length of the kitchen. The door found a home stacked against a wall inside then it found its way outside and over the seasons the paint has peeled, and we have wondered what we should do with it. We considered turning it into an outside table and then we were invited to attend the Country Living Show at Harrogate and we saw this....


Old doors make great tables.


We have wanted a new kitchen table for some time but every table we found was too low, too short or too long. We had become like the three bears, Carol, Andrew and Little D shaking our heads at each successive table that was either a little too of something for each of us but this idea was just right. It appealed to our Wartime Garden learning, our desire to make do and mend, and boy has make do and mend been sneaking into our lives over the last few years. You may know it as upcycling, it followed on from the distressed fad, and there are few people who do either of these well. Distressed furniture to us is merely distressed, we have never seen a good example, we have simply seen furniture butchered, furniture that should be put out of its misery. Then we saw this display at the Country Living Show and we realised that one designer had embraced the true principals of make do and mend. If it looks good, love it, if it needs mending, do so honestly. Quality can be saved but it has to be done object by object, textile by textile, stitch by stitch, nail by nail.

Old furniture should be restored one piece at a time.


Little Mill House hidden among the homemade bedspreads, Yorkshire made wool duvets and jam, showed what could be done with old doors, singer bases and bowler hats. Here there was a real love of textiles, of objects given a new life and old furniture restored honestly. They allowed the wood to breath, the paint to peel, and the skips to give up their secrets. That's how we spent a pleasant quarter of an hour with them, chatting about skip diving, thrown out doors that we wept over (even doors that we could go and save together) and doors shared on Instagram. We hugged ourselves as we nodded in agreement that someone else's junk is someone else's treasure. That good furniture, good objects are treasures that should be saved from the landfill or bonfire. That we should all guard against passing fads and our throwaway culture. Yet, this winter throw one last thing away, banish your flat packs from your house, they are not the antiques of the future, they are not pieces of furniture or object d'art that future generations will stampede across shops to run their fingers across. No one will lovingly stroke flat packs and comment on its luster or grain. Flat packs don't get broken in, they do not exhibit a patina, they just wear out and collapse. They are overpriced, poorly manufactured and mean that your kitchen, your lounge, your doors are like the house next door, and so on, and so on down the street, through your town, in every city. Flat packs have taken over our lives, uniformed us and made us swear more times than any politician. We have no need of allen keys but we have real need for individuality. Thankfully, one exhibitor at the Country Living Show sighed as deeply as we did about old doors, old chairs, cinema seats and step ladders, they gave one exhibit at deep sense of warmth and individuality that we can all learn from. Time to rescue that door from the yard.

Life on Pig Row receive tickets for free to cover this show. All opinions expressed here are Life on Pig Row's and not Country Living's.