Interior design experts take on British Heart Foundation Makeover Challenge

The results are all very different! Will their upcycling projects inspire you to transform your own charity shop finds?

In aid of the British Heart Foundation Makeover Challenge, running this month, the charity retailers challenged four leading interior experts to transform an entire room on a budget. The interiors gurus, including celebrity upcycler Max McMurdo, were tasked to only use items found in BHF stores.

Related: Charity shop furniture – how to bag the best bargains for your home

The Makeover Challenge is a seasonal campaign encouraging shoppers to get creative and give their homes a fresh new look, using items bought at BHF shops.

Charity shop furniture's a cost-effective way to update homes on a budget. Be inspired to tackle your own upcycling projects...

October's British Heart Foundation makeover challenge

british heart foundation makeover challenge before

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

From upcycling pre-loved furniture to refreshing whole rooms, this month the British Heart Foundation are encouraging interiors enthusiasts, bargain hunters and those on a budget to get involved.

'The Makeover Challenge is a great example of how you don’t need a big budget to give a home a fresh new look, ' explains Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the BHF. 'It’s been amazing to see what these designers have created from items found in their local BHF home stores! With sofas from £95 and wardrobes from £40, not only do the stores provide great value but every penny raised in store goes towards life-saving research.'

All under £500

Interior Style Hunter and Girl About House's makeover

british heart foundation makeover challenge interior style hunter

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

While every room came in under the £500 challenge, this transformation won the award for 'Best Value' makeover. This sophisticated scheme was the work of Interior Style Hunter’s Grant Pierrus and design pal Girl About House aka Sarah Mailer.

'We wanted to make something that looked high-end, despite being on a budget,' says Sarah.

What did it cost? Dining room set, £105; sideboard, £80; lamps, £40; jug, £3; rug, £65; canvas, £40; teapot and cups, £15; books, £10; mirror, £10
Total cost: £368

british heart foundation max mcmurdo

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

Famous for his eclectic designs, Max McMurdo’s makeover certainly doesn't disappoint!

His hunter's lodge theme includes chair legs which had been turned into antler wall mountings, a table created from upturned Windsor chairs – and even a ladder made from table legs!

british heart foundation makeover challenge max mcmurdo

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

“I’ve got a reputation for doing things in an innovative, quirky way; this started out as ‘hunting lodge chic’ but I got carried away!' says Max of his creations. 'One of my favourite things about upcycling is the amount of benefits – you’re saving items from landfill, learning new skills and with BHF shops, you’re doing something charitable too.

What did it cost? Dining table and chairs, £25 each; Dining table and chairs, £50; Fireplace, £69.99; Globe, £45.99; Rug £24.99; Electrical Goods, £20; Bric-a-brac, £140.
Total cost: £425.97

Sharp & Simpson's makeover

british heart foundation makeover challenge sharp simpson

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

Micaela Sharp of upcycling duo Sharp & Simpson and interior designer Beth Clancy, went for a playful gender-neutral look for their children’s bedroom makeover. A hero piece from the room is the simple white toy box, transformed using padding and fabric.

'The Makeover Challenge really shines a light on what you can do with pre-loved furniture,' says Micaela. ‘It’s a great opportunity to be creative and make a one-of-a-kind, unique piece.'

What did it cost? Bed, £65; Mattress, £35; Mirror,£45; Wardrobe, £15; Sideboard,£15; Pillow, £2; Throw, £9.99; Toy box, £10; Light, £150; Giraffe Print, £69.99; Rug, £30
Total cost: £446.98

Forward Features' makeover

british heart foundation makeover challenge forward features

(Image credit: British Heart Foundation)

Design duo David White and Mark Russell of Forward Features have won awards for their design blog. The pair created a bedroom design, inspired by on-trend retro 70s influences.

'It’s been such fun!' says David, 'we really enjoyed seeing what was available in the shops, and how we could achieve the look we had in mind.'

What did it cost? Chest, £40; Bed, £100; Mirror, £10; Records, £2.50 each; Chest, £60; Cushion, £9.99; Chair, £20: Throw, £9.99; Bedside table, £55; Stool, £59; Artwork, £14; Rug, £85; Jug ,£3; Ornaments, £15
Total cost:

Related: How to upcycle a vanity unit – to create a super-stylish piece of furniture

Feeling inspired?  Head to one of BHF’s 180 furniture and home stores to bag a bargain for yourself. We'd love to see what you create!


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.