Thursday, 12 September 2013

Utility Furniture

Hello all, I know its been AGES.  I felt a bit lost with what direction I should take this blog in and I started working on a new project but then I fell pregnant, which was very exciting.  Then I got really ill and 7months later here we are.  I haven't had a spare ounce of energy for quite some time but today something happened that was so exciting and I just had to share.

As you've probably gathered from programs such as Kirsty Allsop's Fill your House for Free up-cycling furniture is very hip right now.  If I haven't mentioned it before I am a HUGE Kirsty fan, not because I find her ideas particularly new or revolutionary but because she has single handedly made EVERYTHING I love very cool.  Instead of being the strange woman who sews, makes jam, trawls skips for furniture, delights in all things old and making them new again and has an extensive doily collection I am suddenly on trend.  This is a first for me.  Don't worry I won't let it go to my head, I have no illusions that this will  last no longer than 15 mins and I will not only be uncool again but very out of fashion.

Anyway onto what excited me today.  We are in the process of redecorating the nursery and I have been looking for quite some time for a chest of drawers for all those teeny-tiny baby clothes and hats and booties etc.  I knew I wanted to paint the drawers a striking pillar box red so something second hand would be perfect.  I also knew I wanted a very vintage/retro feel for this room.  So I visited our local Emmaus furniture project (they are a great charity - check them out).  Amazingly even they had very few chests of drawers and nothing that fitted my needs but then I saw this....

It seemed to be the right era and in need of some TLC.  By this time my 3 year old was getting very... well like a 3 year old who'd spent the morning in a doctors waiting room and then who's mother had taken her to a giant furniture shop.  I rather rashly decided I'd make it work and I'd take it home with me (it didn't fit in the car with the car seats in so I agreed to go back later and get it).  When I got home I worried it was the wrong thing and I should have held out for a chest of drawers.  Anyway it arrived today and looking at it again the thought occurred to me that it might be utility furniture.

Utility furniture was produced in the UK during the second world war until 1952.  It was a Government scheme designed to address the big demand for new furniture as many people were bombed out of their homes and the number of couples getting married, needing to set up home during this period.  Such families were given ration coupons and could buy a limited number of items of furniture from the scheme.  Some items were not of great quality however this certainly wasn't always the case.

If you want to know if an item is utility look for this mark stamped onto the wood...

 As I pulled out the second drawer a scrap of paper caught my eye.  I love the little clues to a furniture's past you get with second hand furniture.  I once found a collection of vintage seaside postcards in an old wardrobe.  Anyway my hopes of this piece being utility wear skyrocketed when he scrap of paper turned out the be a page from a ration book, thrilling! And sure enough, it's stamped utility wear.

As if this wasn't exciting enough there is a lovely coincidence to this tale.  When my parents were expecting me and decorating my nursery, they were also looking for a useful set of drawers.  They struck upon a lovely piece with two cupboards at either end (my first wardrobe), 4 drawers and a tiled top.  You guessed it folks it was utility furniture and is now my kitchen sideboard!

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