Diane Cooke meets the designer who will transform your tired old furniture into something gorgeous and on trend

IT is hard to believe that those polished pine wardrobes we all snapped up in the Nineties now look so clumsy and old-fashioned.

Bought to last, the cost of replacing them is a deterrent but they simply do not match today’s trend for light and bright bedroom interiors.

And it’s not just wardrobes — dark wooden tables, chairs and cabinets can bring your decor down, no matter how much you’ve invested in the soft furnishings.

But artist Rebecca Ann Wilmer, 34, is using inspiration from nature to transform furniture for the modern age.

Her business RAW (after her initials) Furniture at Bee Mill in Ribchester, is booming as customers as far as London hear of her furniture painting talent.

Rebecca, who has a BA and Masters in Surface Pattern from UCLan, has put her talent for landscape painting to good use for restoring furniture, shabby chic style.

She says: “I am a fervent believer in re-using, recycling and restoring. I can transform pieces of furniture that people are prepared to throw away. I’ve even saved pieces from skips because I can see their potential.”

Rebecca uses chalk-based paints produced by Anne Sloan for a silky matt finish and employs a series of techniques including crackling and glazing. She also uses dark wax to create an aged antique look.

But her favourite piece of updating was a large display cabinet that she painted in ‘Barcelona Orange’ and topped with an olive colour.

She then sanded it down to reveal the vibrant orange beneath. The end result was stunning.

Although the artist loves what she does, her own ‘hippy-style’ home is full of colour but she prefers her wooden furniture as it comes. “I like the natural, distressed look, no matter how battered and ring-stained it is.”

The cost of transforming a much-loved wardrobe ranges from £90 to £180 depending on the effect and colours required, which works out at probably a third of buying new.

Rebecca will also send a courier to pick up the customer’s furniture.

“It’s an economical way of transforming a room. The shabby chic trend will last forever because there are so many different styles and techniques, from the wild and wacky to French and even rainforest-inspired designs.”

Rebecca also works for two local interior design companies — Thersan Interiors in Whalley and Heritage in Longridge.

She also runs furniture painting workshops at her Bee Mill base.