If you thought upcycling was all about shabby chic and distressed paintwork you probably haven’t heard of 'luxecycling' or seen the stunning creations of Zoe Pocock who runs Muck n Brass.
Luxury-upcycling is luxecycling
Before becoming a professional luxecycler, Zoe from Lewisham was a nail technician for TV, films and magazines where she met celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman. However in 2014, she set up Muck n Brass having spent her twenties making, repairing and transforming charity shop furniture for her first flat. 'Back then it was called 'making do' not upcycling!,' she laughs. 'The first piece I sold on Ebay was a vintage Nathan bookcase but in the early days of upcycling there was nothing luxurious - it was things like car engine coffee tables.'
The whole ethos of luxecycling is about re-inventing a piece of furniture, adding value and making it much better than it was before. Zoe's creations are completely different - fashionable, funky and cool with no hint of shabby chic - often using on-trend wallpaper, decoupage and neon graffiti. 'It's all about a premium finish, so the piece will look brand new and there are definitely no brush marks,' she says. 'A bad upcycling job with chalk paint means a piece can't be re-upcycled in future but these pieces can last another 40 or more years.'
Finding furniture gems at charity shops
Charity shops are a regular stomping ground for Zoe. 'We only get our furniture from two places and one is the British Heart Foundation,' she says. 'I visit seven of their stores regularly every week, including my favourites in Bromley, Hounslow and the Old Kent Road, or my husband will send me a Whatsapp picture if he spots a suitable piece. When I see something I like, I know straight away what I'm going to do with it.'
Chests and sideboards are often ripe for a revamp. 'I look out for solid wood and good hinges, and my husband repairs the runners,' says Zoe, who loves designs by G Plan and Beautillity, but will buy anything with the right shape. 'If the doors are in good condition I’ll leave the wood bare. However if the doors aren’t great or there are ring marks on the top, I’ll sand it down with wire wool or sandpaper before using eco friendly acrylic based paints and wallpaper.'
Zoe's designs have become so popular that they get snapped up quickly when posted on her website www.mucknbrass.com. She also undertakes commissions, has just launched her own wallpaper range called 'Chimiracle' with print designer Laura Hyden and offers luxecycling workshops too.
Re-using furniture to help the environment
Keeping furniture out of landfill is a key aim of the business, so she also offers an exchange service which allows customers to part exchange old furniture for luxecycled designs. Alternatively she’ll buy back her own pieces to re-sell if a customer fancies a change.
'I'd advise anyone to start with something simple like a chair or small bedside cabinet, then you can tackle pieces that are falling apart and learn from your mistake like I did,' she says. ‘After all it’s only paint and wallpaper, so experiment and have fun!'
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Photo Credits: Muck N Brass