Modern furniture from reclaimed oak. Picture: Courtesy of David Nemeth
Modern furniture from reclaimed oak. Picture: Courtesy of David Nemeth
Handcrafted furniture stands out because it is unique and beautifully made, says d�cor guru David Nemeth.
Handcrafted furniture stands out because it is unique and beautifully made, says d�cor guru David Nemeth.

Johannesburg - The word is “recycle” but how many of us know how to do that? My guess is that there are a lot of old crates, roof trusses, wooden planks and extracted window frames around that are begging to be reinvented, but their owners are not the DIY kind.

Yet reclaiming old furniture and refashioning it to suit modern settings is all the rage in our eco-conscious world, so it’s time to learn the tricks of transition from old to new.

With this is mind, two creatives who are good with their hands, Megan Kirchhoff and Paul Mackenzie, started a business called Tool Share Studio, a “maker space” where you can come and make beautiful things out of old materials.

“We help people to make whatever they like, out of wood, metal, plastic or any other building material, in a big, organised space with tools you wouldn’t ordinarily have at home. People have made tables and bed bases out of re-used wooden pallets, and lamps out of old burglar bars,” says Mackenzie.

The business model is simple. You book time in the studio in Randburg, where you get your own work bench and tools.

Tool Share Studio has all the tools you need for carpentry, furniture restoration, metalwork, assembly, finishing, sewing, upholstery, and arts and crafts projects. You have everything from screwdrivers and hammers, to radial-arm saws, drill presses, planers, lathes, and even sewing machines.

“We also give people ideas, many of which come from Pinterest or Houzz (websites sharing decor and DIY inspirations). More and more people feel the urge to go out there and make something, so we saw a gap in the market to meet this need,” says Kirchhoff.

Tool Share Studio launched in April, and since then it has been used to churn out a diverse array of self-made furnishings and accessories, including tables, book cases, lamps, bike racks, picture frames, spice racks, wine racks, shoe racks, ornamental metal objects and mosaic paving stones.

“We can make things for people, teach them how to make something, or they can hire a workbench to make it themselves,” says Mackenzie.

“One woman came with a trailer full of scaffolding planks and she turned it into a lovely dining table,” he says.

Tool Share Studio runs courses and workshops for men, women and young makers (children between the ages of five and 13) in everything from carpentry to mosaic. For more info, visit or call 011 791 7790.


Bespoke furniture from reclaimed wood is the future

Décor guru and trends forecaster David Nemeth says the biggest macro-trend in furniture is an increasing awareness of handmade craft and design. “So you’re starting to see more handcrafted tables and chairs, items that may cost more but stand out because they are unique or beautifully crafted,” he says.

Individualism plays out in bespoke furniture. “There’s a huge depth of choice these days. You can order, say, a couch where you choose the depth, length and fabric,” he says.

Online shopping has taken off in South Africa. “This makes for some very exciting interiors,” says Nemeth. In small apartments, another trend is to seek out multifunctional furniture – a TV unit that doubles as a server, an ottoman doubling as a coffee table, L-shaped couches that break apart.

Corporate spaces and shop interiors, meanwhile, are continuing to favour an industrial look, which Nemeth says is “here to stay”. “This is about aged timber, reclaimed wood, concrete floors, rich leathers. It’s very tactile, and eco-friendly. It’s another move away from mass production and revisiting age-old techniques. That’s why you’re seeing the rebirth of vinyl records,” he says.

The rule of thumb is “don’t put something in your shop because of the price. Put it there because it tells a story”.

Nemeth foresees an exciting trend in communal workspaces, where coffee shops seamlessly merge with wi-fi workspaces. “Overseas, there are hotels where the lobbies are funky, open-plan cafés-cum-work spaces with wi-fi boardrooms that you can use free. You’ll soon see these ideas manifesting here,” he predicts. - The Star