Refresh your home the eco-friendly way

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Head of Retail at St Clare, Fiona Eaton, shares her top tips for keeping your home fresh and stylish using cream-of-the-crop charity shop finds from within the local community. Drawing on current trends within the interior design market, Fiona’s eye for thrifty shopping has ensured her home always looks on-trend!

Are you looking to refresh your home and garden this spring? Having a lovely home that we admire and feel comfortable in is something that’s important to most of us – but sometimes the ‘rainy day fund’ isn’t quite ripe or we’re feeling uninspired by what we’ve seen on the high-street.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution, however it is one that most people tend to overlook!

Charity shops on our high streets are treasure troves for those with a passion for fashion and accessories, but there is so much more you can find within! Especially when it comes to refreshing your home interiors and gardens.

For many years, I have used charity shops to furnish my home, which costs a fraction of the price of high street or designer retailers and is better for the environment, too. You can also find really quirky items that no one else will have! Not to mention that shopping in a charity shop means you are supporting that cause, too!

I love finding pieces of furniture and upcycling them for a totally different use!

When my son was born, I needed a changing unit but I hated the MDF versions on sale in the shops at the time. So, I bought an old oak unit from a charity shop, which was the perfect height for me at my just-about-5ft frame! I put a changing mat on the top and filled the drawer and cupboards underneath with the plethora of ‘stuff’ that babies need. Years later it was now resides in our living room and holds many fond memories!

I also use old wardrobes that generally don’t tend to have sufficient hanging space, and add in shelves to make them more practical. I have even used an old sewing box to store my jewellery!

Adding tasteful accessories to the home

I like to gather those ‘old collectors plates’ in a specific colour theme and display them on the wall together. They add a wonderful pop of colour and give an antique-chic feel to the home!

Blue collectors’ plates add a touch of antique-chic to a calming, blue tone bedroom

I also love my garden, and use garden ornaments amongst the planting to create interest. This year the duck, pig and elephants are all new residents to my garden, all from charity shops!

Outdoor accessories adorn a vintage step-ladder in the garden

You can find some great bargains in charity shops which you can use to plant herbs or annuals. I don’t worry if they’re not frost free as I will replace them with new charity shop finds as and when! It’s all supporting charity and is affordable for me, so I don’t mind refreshing the ornaments every 6 months or so.

What to look out for this spring/summer

  • Artificial flowers – especially cacti and air plants!
  • Unique pots and planters for both indoor and outdoor use. You can add greenery to the home on table-tops, shelves and surfaces, but also hanging from the ceiling using macramé knotted string or twine.
  • Terrariums – to bring the outside in! You can buy artificial ones or make them yourself using quirky glassware.
  • Yellow or mustard items to brighten up your home during the warmer months. You can go for small pops of colour or larger, statement pieces. It seems like more is more with this trend!
  • Energise with coral hues – coral, salmon, earthy clay. Don’t forget to mix up textures!
  • Scandi and mid-century accessories – think minimalism. Sleek, smooth lines, retro vibes, cheerful colours with greys or earthy tones. Don’t over-clutter!
  • Rustic and raw materials – such as hand-spun ceramics or untreated wood. Give your home an artisanal element for that ‘all white,’ beachy home look. Pair with natural linens and local, wild flowers.
Indoor plants like cacti or succulents bring the outdoors, in
Rustic or unfinished ornaments are on-trend for SS19

How to find your new favourite items

Shopping in the charity stores takes a bit of practice – and patience! Here are my top tips for how you can refresh your home most efficiently.

  1. Take it one room at a time!
  2. Look at the room and first of all, de-clutter it.
  3. Choose the direction you want to go in for the room, and stick to it!

Tip: If you have a neutral colour palette, you can either stick to it religiously, or add a pop of colour with some themed accessories. This season, yellow and pink are big! Think lampshades, throws, cushions, ornaments, pots/planters, etc.

Sticking to a neutral colour palette can add elegance to a room or hallway
  1. Go to your local charity shop and be patient! You may not find the items you fancy immediately, but it’s worth shopping around. That’s the excitement of the chase!
  2. If you love an item but it’s the wrong colour, sometimes the humble can of spray paint can be your best friend. Spraying items can give a modern, urban touch to a room.
  3. If in doubt, sometimes it can be wise to just buy the item anyway and see what it looks like at home. It’s likely you only paid a few pounds for it, and if it’s not right you can always donate it back to the charity!

Shopping with St Clare Hospice

Our nine charity shops located throughout West Essex and East Herts offer a wonderful range of both pre-loved and new goods, including clothing, shoes, accessories, furniture, homeware, collectables – and everything in between! Relying entirely on your generous donations, every item we receive contributes to helping us raise vital income for the Hospice.

Find out more about our shops on our website via: stclarehospice.org.uk/shop


Fiona Eaton began her career as a visual merchandiser at several West End stores during the 1980s. Later moving to a small ladies’ fashion retailer, Fiona increased the number of stores they had across the UK to 110, opening many of the new outlets in the shopping centres popping up across the nation throughout the late 80s and 90s. After a number of years in the industry, Fiona decided she wanted to use her skills to ‘give something back’ and joined international charity, Save the Children, as their Shop Design and Marketing Manager. Fiona worked on several new concepts: a student shop, a children’s shop called ‘Magic Attic,’ and with Mary Portas and her company Yellow Door on the Mary’s Living and Giving concepts, plus new shop layouts for Save the Children. After volunteering with the St Clare Trading Company Ltd Board for a couple of years, Fiona jumped at the opportunity when a position to work at the Hospice came up. Having seen St Clare, as her local charity, grow over the years since moving to the area, Fiona remains a proud member of the Hospice team as Head of Retail. 

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