Upcycle Queen Charis Williams: My Story

Brighton born and bred Charis Williams is a designer and TV presenter who has featured on Channel 4’s Fill Your House for Free and UKTV Home’s The New Reclaimers. Here we find out a bit more about the woman they call the Salvage Sister.

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In my house I’ve skimmed all the walls, chased lighting wires into the plaster, repaired problem areas and designed the rooms, decorated and tiled it myself. I thank my dad for passing on his knowledge and teaching me the DIY skills I use
daily.

I then came up with a design for each room that was functional for my needs, made good use of the space and kept a young and funky vibe throughout the house. I took time to find pieces of furniture and furnishings that fit with the look I was going for and at the right price.

Reusing and upcycling is always paramount to me, when I am finished with an item I either sell it or give it away to make sure it is used again. My sister and I were taught not to waste from an early age – my Dad grew up during World War 2 when food and textiles were rationed. This stayed with him and he cannot abide waste of any kind. He drove us mad as teenagers, we would only be allowed one toilet roll a week between us. You can imagine being a teenager and having friends over, Dad was so embarrassing. We took to having to bring home rolls from school to last out the week. And if we accidentally dropped a roll down the toilet it was like the end of the world! We were also scared to open the fridge or turn on a tap in front of him! I still get nervous of opening my own fridge when he comes around.

My mother started up the first vintage shop in Brighton’s North Laine 26 years ago, we travelled the UK and Europe looking for 50’s, 60’s and 70’s outfits, platforms and accessories. Being a young girl this was a lot of fun, and I didn’t realise at the time but I was learning valuable lessons in bargain hunting and bartering which I now use every day in my line of work. I also grew a real love for secondhand and vintage clothing and this is another area which I have become a savvy shopper and keen upcycler.

I’m glad my parents instilled these values in me, and I wish more people were so waste conscious, maybe the environment wouldn’t be in such a state if they were. I am passing these values onto my children and teaching them about the environment, reusing, recycling and reclaiming. Children are like sponges when they’re young and it’s never too early to
start teaching them about the world and where their waste goes and the effect it has. They see their mum always working hard every day to make their home beautiful and earn a living – I am going to teach them everything I know.

I believe as a nation, we should never stop teaching our children the skills we have and passing our trade knowledge on because learning a trade also teaches them respect and responsibility.

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