Making the most of recession chic

REAL HOME>>>> home  of Jo Sutcliffe, Granville Road, Sheffield     See Story Sharon Dale Picture Chris Lawton   '25/02/13
REAL HOME>>>> home of Jo Sutcliffe, Granville Road, Sheffield See Story Sharon Dale Picture Chris Lawton '25/02/13
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In the depths of a recession, charity shop chic is most definitely in vogue.

But while many people intend to fill their homes with reclaimed antiques, vintage furniture and second-hand knick-knacks, the pressures of everyday life mean they may not find the time to spend days on end scouting around online, in skips or in antique shops for the perfect “find.”

That’s where Sheffield teacher Joanna Sutcliffe comes in. The 30-year-old from Granville Road, who has a lifelong love of quirky interiors, is an interior designer for those with a recession-era budget.

Her aim is to help hard-pushed householders decide what they want – then do the legwork for them.

She said: “I believe that everyone, no matter what their budget, should have a home environment that is a sanctuary and reflects their personality. So often, especially when money is tight, people feel forced to buy things that they don’t love.

“Anyone with a hefty bank balance can go to a posh shop and buy beautiful things. I love the challenge of sourcing unusual items and putting them together to create something beautiful.

“I offer advice, planning or a full design, purchasing and decoration service.

“For people who have an idea of furniture and accessories that they want, but don’t have the time or inclination to trudge round junk shops every weekend looking for them, I offer a sourcing service. And if people want a full service – developing an idea for a room, sourcing furniture and accessories, decorating and carpeting – I have decorators and tradesmen that I work with who I can guarantee will do a good job.”

Joanna’s new business has been launched after a lifetime of overhauling homes in need of a touch of TLC. She moved on from decorating her own parents’ house as a child, to taking on ambitious restoration projects in her adopted city of Sheffield. Now, happy in her ideal home, she’s decided to help others by doing what she loves best.

She said: “I was brought up spending my weekends in charity shops and at car boot sales and developed an eye for spotting a bargain.

“We never had much spare money, but I always enjoyed using what I had available to me to make my surroundings my own.

“My mum used to give me her button tin to play with when I was a toddler and I was fascinated by them. Each one is like a little work of art, and so from a young age, I’d use buttons to adorn things. I’d sew brightly coloured buttons to the hems of my trousers, and dangle them on cottons at my windows. This obsession has never died and in my first house in Sharrow, Sheffield, I made a button-wall.

“As a child, I was always ‘surprising’ my parents by decorating rooms when they went out for the day or away for the weekend. Thankfully, they were very understanding and encouraged my passion. I can’t say I would be as tolerant if my kids did the same!”

She added: “I did up my first house and enjoyed the experience very much. Even though the house was like every other terrace in Sheffield, I made it my own and put a unique stamp on it.

“When I got together with my partner, Pete, and we decided to buy a house together, I wasn’t scared of taking on a big project. The house we bought ended up being a much bigger task than we expected, but now it’s nearing completion, I again feel the satisfaction of having created a home that truly reflects us and is just the way we want it.

“Nothing in our home was expensive. Almost everything came from charity shops or the internet. I even picked up a few items that had been thrown out in skips, after asking first.

“Everyone can make the most of what they already have. It can be about choosing a centrepiece, or displaying things in a different way. “

n Joanna’s new business, The Freedom of Birds, is on Facebook and Twitter and a website is under construction. Call 07968 869732 or email