Kirstie Allsopp ‘I spend my weekends in junk shops’

It’s hard to imagine the slightly posh, well-heeled Kirstie Allsopp, 41, rummaging about in other people’s rubbish but as she tells us, her new C4 series is all about “loving free” rather than free love.


by Paul Hirons |
Published on

Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free sees Kirstie and a team of helpers sprucing up bits of junk thrown out on the street. An abandoned supermarket trolley? Turn it into a chair! Someone’s old table? Make it a showpiece with a lick of paint!

Read on for Kirstie’s tips on how to turn a piece of old rubbish into a chic piece of furniture…

Tell us about 'Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free'

It’s all about showing how you can really furnish your home for the tiniest budget imaginable. Nothing in life is one hundred percent free but the basic message is that there are fun, amusing and interesting things to make and get for very little cash. You don’t have to spend a fortune on the High Street.

And you’re working with families?

Yes, and one of my favourites was a young couple who bought a house in their village at a bargain price, but then they found out there was more work to be done on it than they imagined, and she’s suddenly expecting a baby – and then she loses her job! They had no money for new furniture but we set to work – and the grey sofa they thought was horrible just required different coloured cushions. We paired it with a 1960’s sideboard which we spray-painted, and now it looks blo*dy chic!

Where do you go to find super-cheap items?

I would start by joining the Freecycle community -,, Plus make sure you’re familiar with your local scrap yard, builders’ merchants and your local house clearance firm. Whatever’s being chucked out is very likely going to be of some use to someone. Some Local Authority dumps also allow you to take things away.

What’s been your favourite piece that you’ve found?

We’ve got two experts on the show called Lee and Max and I think some of the things they’ve made have become my favourite items. Max made a sofa and shelves out of a wooden pallet; he really does make things out of stuff people throw away.

Would we find you rummaging around in junk shops?

I spend every weekend in auction rooms and antiques shops, and it’s always been part of my life. Yesterday I found something that wasn’t free, but they were cheap; old museum cupboards that had stored butterflies. So now I’m thinking of turning them into cupboards for my bedroom.

Where would you go to shop for High Street furniture?

I like the electrical department in John Lewis. I went the other day and bought an amazing new Magimix iron and an orange squeezer. I love it.

Do people stop you in the street and ask for craft advice?

I went shopping last weekend and a man came up to me and told me he’d started baking and sewing because of me. I just think, ‘Oh my God! That’s lovely but it’s such a responsibility!’


What about Christmasses and birthdays? Do people now expect homemade presents from you?

It was my sons’ birthday recently and people were asking me if I made the cake. No, I didn’t! I had 80 children in the garden and there was no way I was going to bake a cake too! When it comes to Christmas, there’s a lot of elaborate wrapping and labels flying around! It’s very hard not to be a total lunatic around that time!

You’re so busy with TV shows and a large family (Kirstie has two sons with partner Ben Anderson, as well as two step-sons) … how do you wind down?

I go to Devon every single weekend and I very rarely work at the weekends. When I’m there I just enjoy being with the kids. I cook or relax outside or play tennis. My son loves auction rooms too, so we’ll go and have a poke around those. I’m not a great person for me time. My me time is work time. Though I’m enormously privileged not to have to work to put food on the table, I work because I want to work, and if you do that, it’s very hard to justify being away from your children for any amount of time. The majority of my time is spent with my kids and work – I don’t have a social life away from them.

Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free starts Tue 23 July, 8pm, C4

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