London Life Events

A Workshop with Out Of The Dark

May 12, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend a workshop held by the much liked and respected Out of the Dark, a charitable social enterprise that recycles, revamps and restores salvaged furniture as a means to employ, educate and train young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A small group of us, made up of bloggers and designers, gathered at Pitfield London ready to be taught how to reupholster a chair that will be auctioned at The May Design Series and hopefully raise lots of money. The highest bid for each chair will then be doubled, thanks to the generosity of The May Design Series, and all proceeds will go to Out of the Dark and further contribute to the great work they do with young people. Simple so far…

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

Meet Jay, below left, teacher extraordinaire and part of the founder duo of Out of the Dark. Below right we have Yasir, his right hand man and charming assistant for the evening.

We were each given a chair and send on our way! No, not really. The fun was just beginning. Jay explained the art of upholstery and our task was to each upholster a seat.

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

All materials were kindly donated and I found this part, the choosing of my fabric, by far the hardest. My chair was painted in light grey with black accents so it wasn’t easy to find a good match with the fabrics we had on offer. More on this later.

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

Who knew one could learn the art of basic upholstery in just a few short hours. Everyone worked hard and I noticed how eager we all were to do a good job. After all, our chairs were going up for auction and that was foremost on everyone’s mind. I was impressed with the speed and tenacity of all of my fellow workshop attendees.

We measured foam, learned how to use electric foam cutters, mastered some spraying glue and the art of stapling. Oh, those horrid corners, they did give one or two people a bit of a headache.

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

Of course, none of this could have happened without the expertise, admirable patience and great help from Jay and Yasir who had to put up with our constant requests for advice, materials and a much needed helping hand.

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

So, back to my dilemma of choosing the fabric for my seat. You see, as a designer, I cannot simply choose something that just doesn’t feel right! Eureka, I had found the solution. The scarf I was wearing that evening would go perfectly with my chair and so I thought: ‘why not donate it to this great cause?’ Bingo! Problem solved!

Yasir, here below, professionally modelling my scarf. To the right, see the top of my chair!

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

It was fun, hard work but totally satisfying. Most of us ran out of time so the good people at Out of the Dark put the finishing touches to our chairs. And here’s the final piece, all ready and waiting for its new owner….

a workshop with Out of the Dark - Colourliving

OK, here’s how you can get involved! If you’re going to the show in May at Excel you can bid for the chairs there in the silent auction. If not, you’ll be able to bid online during the event. The link will go live during the show, so make a note of the dates.

There will be 8 chairs to choose from and they are all unique and made with great care and love! Happy bidding!

Meet my fellow workshop attendees:

Arianna Trapani, co-Editor of Heart Home and blogger at Arianna’s Daily
Carole King, co-Editor of Heart Home and blogger at Dear Designer’s
Yasmin Chopin, interior designer and blogger at
Kate Watson-Smyth, freelance interiors writer and blogger at Mad About the House 
Laura Almond, Web Editor at Achica Living
Kate Burnett, Editor at The Schemer
Denise Mahmud of Trendease

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  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey May 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I have heard of “Out of the Dark” and it’s a fantastic venture. And what a great opportunity you all had.

    Tina I love your resourcefulness and your scarf does indeed look fantastic on the seat of your chair. Well done!

    Hopefully lots of money will be raised 🙂

    PS. Yasir is a cutie 😉


    • Reply tina May 12, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Yes they are. It was a pleasure and honour to be asked to participate in this.
      We worked hard but also had fun and learned a lot. Jay and Yasir were incredibly patient and good teachers.

      Ha. I did struggle and short of zooming off to Liberty or Clothhouse (which of course was not the point), my scarf
      saved the day. I actually think it looks rather nice, unique and tells the story well.
      After all, it’s all very grey, that must be pleasing you:-))

      Yes, let’s hope our chairs will raise lots of money for them so they continue to do the great work they do with young people.

      Thought the scarf looked rather good on him:-)
      Thanks G xx

  • Reply gudy May 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Ah, I love this story and the fact you attended for a good cause. It looks like you had a most creative workshop. I’d love to learn how to upholster too and my sofa would appreciate too…. xx

    • Reply tina May 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Gudy. It was great and I really enjoyed learning how to upholster a chair seat. I think you would have enjoyed it and hahahah, obviously your sofa too:-)) xx

  • Reply Jiri May 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    The chair is lovely. Well done guys.

    • Reply tina May 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Hello Jiri. Thank you:-)

  • Reply Shona Lockhart May 13, 2014 at 7:37 am

    What a great project and a fun way to spend a day. I hope your chair raises lots of money.

    • Reply parisbreakfast May 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Wonderful story and I Love your chair!!
      Thanks for sharing Tina

      • Reply tina May 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

        I love what Out of the Dark do so we all really were excitedto help with this.

        Thank you:-) Now I hope that people will bid on it..

    • Reply tina May 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Thanks Shona. I hope for the same:-)

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily May 13, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Looks like it was a fabulous evening! Great chair lovely xx

    • Reply tina May 14, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      It was so much fun AND hard work:-) Thanks Caroline x

  • Reply Igor May 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    This is such a cool idea and looks like a very creative workshop! Plus it is for a good cause – double like!

    • Reply tina May 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Ha. You would have enjoyed it too. A happy workshop:-)

  • Reply Doris May 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Looks like you had a lot of fun and your scarf looks fab on the chair. Perfect choice. This is such a great cause and I hope they raise the money they need from the auction. xD

    • Reply tina May 19, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      It was great fun and today I saw all chairs for the first time at the May Design Series… it was fab being part of it and I also hope people will dig deep:-) x

  • Reply alisonsye May 20, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Haha! Love that you used your own scarf to make your chair. It looks great, loving the little elephants.

    • Reply tina May 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Ha. Yes, it just happened but the end result is fab!!

  • Reply noreen May 21, 2014 at 1:03 am

    it sounds like a wonderful charity! your chair turned out beautiful, and now your scarf will be part of a family and their memories. perhaps your blog post will get more fabric donated? joy to you, n

    • Reply tina May 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      The charity is truly wonderful and they work tirelessly….
      I hope that the chair has gone to a good home!

      You know they had nice fabrics. It was just that my chair wasn’t easy to match with fabric!
      Thanks Noreen.

  • Reply Holly June 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    So fabulous you actually put a little piece of yourself into your chair! Makes it extra special. It’s such a great feeling to be part of something good. Must have been a great day 🙂 Xx.

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