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Artist in the Spotlight: Claire Hill, The Furniture Restylist

Get ready to be inspired by the journey of Claire Hill @The Furniture Restylist, one of our talented Furniture Artists.

In this interview with Susan Ruth (TFAC copyblo9ger), Claire shares how she discovered the importance of living life to the fullest, even in the face of tragedy.

As a specialist in kitchen restyling, she has honed her skills to create stunning transformations that not only enhance the beauty of a space but also improve functionality. But her passion for her craft goes beyond the surface level - it's rooted in her deep appreciation for the power of creativity and its ability to transform lives.

Through her personal story, Claire reminds us of the importance of cherishing every moment and pursuing our dreams, no matter what obstacles may come our way.

Take it away, ladies!.................

Continuing our series of putting one of our wonderfully talented Furniture Artists, Upstylers, and Interior Designers in the spotlight, here Claire Hill, who has honed her skills and now specialises in kitchen restyling, talks about how she learned the hard and very sad way, that life is for living!

Q. Tell us a little about your background and how you got into painting kitchens?

A. Having no real career direction, I did what was the norm back then, getting an admin job when I left college and then pursuing a career within local government for the next 20 years. I began to become a little disillusioned, feeling that the big wide world had more to offer than what I was doing. I started painting furniture in 2015, initially as a hobby, but quickly developed into a ‘side hustle’. But then a friend and colleague tragically passed away in 2018 at the tender age of 32, which really made me feel that life had to be lived. The opportunity for voluntary redundancy came up later in 2018, and that just felt like the universe was telling me to grasp it and go for it. From the beginning of my painting journey, Kitchens had always been on my radar to move into, but it wasn’t until the end of lockdown that this became a reality. My business has gradually transitioned from being mainly furniture focused to now specialising in painting kitchens, which is the balance I aspired to. I think since lockdown particularly, people are a lot more aware of the importance their home has in terms of being somewhere we love being, that we come home to after a busy and stressful day and a place we can recharge.

Q. Kitchen renovation can be a significant investment. Is painting a more budget-friendly option?

A. The kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to update. A full replacement could go into the tens of thousands by the time you have sourced the cabinetry, appliances, and then labour to fit it all, whereas painting an existing kitchen is a tiny fraction of that. Choosing the repainting option also offers the opportunity to use any surplus budget on other ‘luxuries’ which may otherwise be out of reach, such as lighting, boiling tap, worktops, etc., which can really complete the upgrade. (Or even the option to update additional rooms rather than use all the budget in the kitchen).

Q. I know from experience that full renovations can take weeks or even months to complete, meaning lots of upheaval and inconvenience. How does kitchen painting compare in terms of time and disruption? A. A kitchen replacement often means being without a kitchen for several weeks and having to do the washing up in the bathroom / cook on a camping stove, for example!. A kitchen restyle is a much less disruptive option. A typical kitchen restyle takes approx. 2 weeks to complete. Doors/drawer fronts are removed and completed in my workshop, so the majority of the work is undertaken outside of the home. Items do not have to be removed from cupboards, and the kitchen can continue to be used throughout. I will be in the home for approx. 3 days to paint the fixed cabinetry, and at the end of each day, I leave the kitchen tidy and clean, and everything is fully functional.

Q. Is every type of kitchen suitable for a makeover? For example, can you paint laminate kitchens?

A. Practically every type of kitchen can be painted, including laminate, previously painted, high gloss, vinyl wrap, wood, melamine etc. The only time it becomes unsuitable is when the laminate has begun to warp by water damage, for example, so past repair.

Q. What preparation is required before a kitchen can be painted?

A. There is very little preparation needed before I commence work. As part of my preparation, I fully degrease all aspects before painting so there is no need to clean yourself. Items can remain in the cabinets and on the workshops, as I can work around them.

Q. What type of paint do you use, and what maintenance and care do you advise to ensure the finish lasts?

A. I use acrylic type paint, which is specifically for kitchens, providing a durable finish.

After 2 weeks, it is fully cured and has a very hard-wearing surface. It has been factory tested to be durable up to 5000 scrubs.

Painted surfaces can be cleaned using a damp cloth (no toxic cleaners are recommended).

Q. Do you provide paint samples, and can you colour match a client’s décor?

A. There are literally thousands of choices of colours. I can colour match to any colour, so if a client sees a colour in a different brand or has a sample/swatch, it can be matched accordingly. I can provide a sample of the colour to a client.

Q. Can you advise on colour schemes and paint finishes?

A. Yes, I offer a colour consultation with any on-boarding clients, where we have a chat about colour options and what suits their home décor. The majority of my clients go for a satin finish, which has the benefit of a slight sheen to bounce the light a little.

Q. Can you recommend eco-friendly paint options for a kitchen, and how will they affect the project's sustainability?

A. This is an interesting point you raise and one I am always exploring as new options enter the market. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is a trade-off with eco paints, particularly primers, not being quite as durable. So, for me, the durability of the finish is very important. Using a more eco-friendly paint, you find that the durability of the finish decreases. However, you could argue that by prioritising the durability of the finish now, you are further increasing the life of the kitchen and preventing the need for future repaints/replacements being needed. The top coats used have ultra-low VOC levels and have eco certificates, and the paint company is very aware of the need for sustainability and keeps this at the forefront of its mind when operating.

Q. Can you provide insight into how painting a kitchen can affect a home's value if a client was looking to sell their home in the near future?

It is said that the kitchen is not only the heart of the home but also the room that can sell a home. It is the room used by everyone in the household and is particularly associated with emotional connections. Having a kitchen that is attractive, which the buyer can instantly imagine themselves using and being proud to entertain in, is a definite benefit. An updated and attractive kitchen could add 5-10% to the value of your home, according to Savills Estate Agency. It will also not deter potential buyers who may be put off by the prospect of facing a kitchen update themselves, both in terms of hassle and finance.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your work?

A. It’s hard to choose just one aspect, as there are many. I love the ‘power of paint!’ The transformation it can create is incredible, and for me seeing the happiness it creates in my client makes it. I love giving something a new lease of life and seeing the magic happen and the sense of achievement when it is complete.

Q. I know you specialise in Kitchen transformations, but do you offer any other services?

A. I still offer furniture restyle commissions alongside my kitchen restyles. I know that starting a project can be daunting, so via my website, I offer 1:1 sessions where I offer advice for painting your own kitchen, upcycling a piece of furniture or some help with where to start with freshening up your kitchen or ways to make your house feel more like a home. There is so much information out there on Google that it can be confusing where to start, but I have learned so much through my journey, and I am happy to pass it on. I am so passionate about the impact your home can have on your well-being, and offer lots of tips/inspiration, particularly on my Instagram account and to my VIP subscribers, who receive a fortnightly email full of lots of info.