Meet the former Bedford fashion buyer making a business out of upcycling furniture

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“Every piece of vintage furniture has a soul, a tale of resilience – with my upcycling I give it a reason to be loved all over again”

Let’s face it, anyone who lives in Bedford loves a bit of furniture.

We may not have a big flat pack furniture warehouse in town – but our passion for Bedford’s W&H Peacock auction house and Emmaus down the road sure proves we like something a little different when it comes to furnishing our homes.

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Nicci Cochrane of Gracie's HouseNicci Cochrane of Gracie's House
Nicci Cochrane of Gracie's House

And that’s certainly a passion shared by Nicci Cochrane of Bromham.

What started as a hobby has now become a burgeoning business for the 45-year-old in the shape of Gracie’s House – a website which not only sells upcycled furniture but will offer to paint your unloved bits, transforming them into statement pieces.

So did it all start for Nicci?

“I’ve been painting furniture for around eight years – but my background working in London as a fashion buyer and a degree in fashion design & textiles has provided me with a great understanding of colour and design.”

The weeping willow drawers (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)The weeping willow drawers (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)
The weeping willow drawers (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)

Going out on her own and setting up a business seemed a natural fit.

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"It was a natural progression. It started as a hobby, when Gracie upgraded from nursery to ‘big girl’ bedroom I wanted something different for her room, not the standard kids’ bedroom furniture. I enjoyed it so much, I bought a few pieces to upcycle and sell on.”

And six years ago, Gracie’s House was born. Named after her daughter, she chose the title as she felt it had a wonderful vintage ring to it.

Talking of vintage, Nicci adds: “Vintage furniture is so solidly built. Most of the pieces I work on are 60+ years old and still going strong, I don’t think the same can be said for the fast furniture available today. I love that by providing new looks for these pieces I am saving something from being discarded into landfill.

The utopia bureau (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)The utopia bureau (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)
The utopia bureau (Nicci Cochrane/Gracie's House)

“Every piece of vintage furniture has a soul, a tale of resilience – with my upcycling I give it a reason to be loved all over again.”

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Nicci sources many pieces from the web, buys unwanted furniture plus is often pointed in the right direction of any house clearances. And after a thorough clean and sanding can take a minimum of two days to paint an average chest of drawers.

And it’s not just upcycling pieces she sells on – Nicci also offers a furniture painting service.

“Many of my customers come to me with furniture that has sentimental value but doesn’t suit their decor. So rather than these items being hidden away in storage and forgotten about I give them a new look and a new lease of life."

Or watch out for Nicci at nearby artisan and vintage markets.

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