Clare's Sydney Second Hand

House Call

Name: Clare
Location: Sydney

This was the only free-standing house I could afford near the centre of Sydney: solidly built, but with cheap and nasty internal finish, and little character. I didn’t have much money, and I didn’t want to contribute to landfill by throwing things out, or to global warming by buying new if I could avoid it. So I’ve spent five years coming up with quirky solutions that don’t cost the earth.

Almost every single thing is second hand (deceased estate auctions, ebay etc) and most things have had another treatment to make them ‘just right’. We stained and painted a cheap (ebay) bed, and made it look grand with an old chinese screen (junk shop) behind. Vintage mirrors ‘funk up’ the bathroom, juxtaposing the modern sinks. A recycled bridge girder reclad the stairs (formerly unattractive timber veneer). I framed my great aunt’s silk scarf to make a great picture and found the marble statue at a sale.

The mantelpiece was built from an old one and integrates the stereo – there is no fireplace, but there was also no character, so this stands in for both. An old mirror tops it off with an elk antler carried all the way to Australia from the US! It was heavy and customs had a field day, but we got it home.

I went to town in the small, unimaginative laundry, with a mural of an English garden on a windowless wall. I covered the sterile tiles with framed mushrooms on plywood – a childhood love of fungi that I get to enjoy every day. On this wall you can just see them framing the mural.

If you haven't got much money, but have lots of imagination, I believe you can still have the house of your dreams... I have!

See more of Clare's style on her blog, Doesn't Cost the Earth Interiors.

Thanks, Clare!

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Janel Laban is the Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy and has been working here, at the dreamiest of dream jobs, since March 2006.