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Kirstie Allsopp's been going all Martha Stewart on us of late. We've had Kirstie's Vintage Home, Kirstie's Homemade Home and Kirstie's Handmade Britain. New to our TV screens this week is Kirstie's Fill Your House for Free (Tuesday 23 July, 8pm, Channel 4).
Apparently ‘there's a revolution going on throughout the country,
turning the kerbside into a shopping mecca'. I must have missed it, but
let's stick with this. ‘Forget about free love,' says Kirstie, rather
too loudly. ‘This is about loving free.'
No one seems to mind
that this doesn't make sense, certainly not Gillian and Harry from
Glasgow and Sarah from Bromley, who are hoping to have their homes furnished with free stuff.
To prove how much is out there for the taking Kirstie sets up a shop in Glasgow (apparently ‘the mixed demographic' makes for rich pickings) where everything on display has a zero price tag.
Such shops, for painfully obvious reasons, don't exist in the real world, so how do we get our hands on this stuff? Ever one to help, Kirstie fires up the MacBook Pro and shows us how to do it in the virtual world: you know, Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree.
Meanwhile, ‘designer and salvage expert' Cerys goes the real-world route and pokes about at sticky-carpeted house clearances, hot-foots it to ominous-sounding give-and-take events and indulges in a little, erm, skip-diving. Lovely.
Gillian, obviously a sensitive soul, worries about house clearances. ‘They make me think of old people and people who've been evicted,' she whispers. ‘And dead people.' We know where she's coming from. Worry not, Gillian. House clearances aren't always for bad reasons, chirps a voiceover. Sometimes people are downsizing or renovating (yeah right) and, anyway, ‘just because someone's clearing out their house it doesn't mean there's nothing worth having.' Glad that's cleared up then.
The advice is plentiful and of the let's-tortuously-mangle-everything-into-a-snippet variety: ‘if you snooze you lose', ‘used doesn't mean useless', ‘quality doesn't have to mean costly', ‘you needn't hit the high street to achieve high end'. I could go on. If only Grand Designs did this. Think how easy it would be to understand!
So do Gillian and Harry manage to ‘embrace the concept?' Did they achieve their ‘modern Scottish hunting lodge look' for free? Well yes, sort of. ‘We've saved money by finding free,' says Kirstie with the zeal of a convert, ‘so we've been able to pay for key pieces but without breaking the bank.' And there's the rub. While Kirstie's minions tot up the receipts for Gillian and Harry's furniture and materials, 'expert furniture buyer' Emma works out what the pieces would have cost to buy in a... shop.
Somehow, in all the excitement, someone has missed the £1,500 spent on the second-hand kitchen units. Someone else has forgotten the man-hours you'd have to take off work for sanding, painting and angle grinding. But it matters not a jot.
For, having watched the preview, and needing to replace some chipped crockery, did I open the Next catalogue as is my wont (that next-day delivery is so good isn't it?). No indeed. Not even batting an eye at the irony of taking advice on frugality from the daughter of a baron, I duly trundled off to my local second-hand market. It must be that revolution. The one that's happening all over the country.
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