Monday, January 14, 2013

Bugs on a rug

I've always had a bit of a thing for lofts and attics. As a child (and teenager, and adult) I was a little besotted by the idea of a cozy roof-space bedroom, with a sloped ceiling, and maybe a dormer window or 2. I love Laura's descriptions of playing with Mary in the loft above their Little House, amongst the pumpkins and onions they have grown and stored up for the long (and quite probably hideous) winters out on the prairie.

When we moved into our own little house, we all immediately fell in love with our sleeping loft. It was cozy, it was warm, it had an amazing view down the valley, and it made us feel so safe. At the time, we could only source enough floorboards for the loft to go half-way down the length of the building. It was  therefore just a sleeping loft, with no room for anything other than a big bed and a couple of boxes for keeping books in and on. We were always open to the possibility of extending, but we had to find the timber. We knew this would be tricky, so we were willing to wait. Thanks to my friend and fellow recycled-hardwood-enthusiast David, however, the wait wasn't really that long. I'm not normally a jealous person, but when I visited David's stockpile of recycled hardwood of all shapes, sizes and dimensions, I went a little green, for sure. But he's a totally ace sharer, so we were in luck. His stockpile included a bunch of floorboards that, miraculously, matched the dimensions of the floorboards we already had and so the loft was extended, just in time to accommodate some of the kids' Christmas presents.

The kids' end

Decorating and arranging the loft has pretty much been a dream come true for me. It's basically doubled the floor-space of our house, though adults can't stand up there, so it's decidedly kid-friendly space, which I think makes it all the more wonderful for our little people and their friends.
Thing was, the floor was kind of hard, and, owing to my less-than-precise carpentry skills, there were some decent cracks between some of the boards, so we'd occasionally get a piece of lego falling through.

Enter the mattress felt rug.

A couple of months ago when we were working on our spring and summer planting, the kids and I stripped an old double mattress so we could use the springs as a trellis for growing beans. 
If you've never seen one before, you wouldn't know how beautiful the inside of a mattress could be, all rusted and spiraling and covered in twining bean plants covered in gorgeous scarlet flowers. 

Mattress innards hard at work supporting scarlet runner beans (with only a little bit of frizzle, courtesy of last week's blow-dryer weather)
Better yet, they're free and make use of something that would otherwise be a massive waste issue. The stripping itself is not the easiest job in the world, but it's kind of strangely rewarding. Run a stanley knife around the outside edge and peel back the layers to reveal your beautiful, sculptural spring trellis.

beans, pumpkins, sunflowers, and tomatoes get cozy
If you're lucky, and you have a super-old mattress, you'll find horse-hair or coconut fibre, which can be composted or used as mulch in your garden. And if you have a medium-aged mattress like ours (maybe 20-25 years old) you'll find some felt that you can use to make an excellent floor rug.

As you probably know, rugs are a. expensive and b. usually made by poor people who don't really get paid a fair amount for the time and effort they put into the rug-making. For these reasons, making rugs is a pretty attractive idea, except that they take a bloody long time. Mattress-felt rug, on the other hand, took me about 3 hours, including the time it took me to strip it from the mattress. The rest of the time was spent making a border from scraps of fabric (the more colourful the better!) and sewing it around the edge, trying to coax my sewing machine into not freaking out about the thickness of the thing.

I arranged it as the kids slept last night, and when Olive woke up this morning, the first thing she said was "where did that carpet come from?" then, "can I go and feel it?". It feels beautiful and, even better than feeling and looking cool, I'm pretty sure it's double-recycled: the felt itself seems to be made from fabric scraps, which means it's got these gorgeous speckles of different colours, including something that looks a lot like yellow lurex.

Loving the first of this year's blackberries, discovered and picked on my ride home from work, hand-delivered directly to the loft
If you can use a stanley knife and sew a straight line, then you can have a freakin' gorgeous bean trellis that doubles as garden feature and windbreak PLUS a floor rug that's free and non-exploitative. How often does something like that happen in your life?


  1. I LOVE your use of the inner spring mattress. Gorgeous.

    I need to fence off my veggie garden from kangaroos, hares and rabbits. I might consider using innersprings for part of the fence.

    And that loft is looking snuggly.

    Inspiring :-)

    1. Thanks Tricia! Yep - you should definitely go the inner spring. You should be able to get mattresses for free from your local tip, and they may even let you strip them on site so you only have to take the springs home. Mattresses are a massive pain for most councils/tips. They also look gorgeous with hardwood posts in between them, but we're star-picket girls all the way (: Good luck - can't wait to see what you come up with!

  2. I was just reading this blog wondering who these fabo chicks were in the Bega VAlley. I've just worked out who you are. I met you at the Whale Festival and was trying to hook you up with the preschool to come and share your knowledge. Great reading. Looking forward to reading more.


    1. Thanks for your words Robyn. I do remember meeting you, hopefully see you again this year.

  3. Well you are just absolutely fab! I just stumbled over your blog and after three entries read I am hooked. In the last few weeks I have seen countless numbers of mattresses in mine and the surrounding suburbs and I love repurposeing, the bonus here is that the spring trellis is fantastic. If I had a garden it would be tomorrow's project! /Lizzie

    1. Thanks Lizzie! So glad to hear you've enjoyed our little blog. We love writing it so it's such a thrill to hear that people are enjoying it. Sorry to hear you can't use it in your garden, maybe some friend's or family could do with a new trellis this years? All the best x

  4. I'm doing this tomorrow. I have been dumpster diving for the beds for a few months now and tomorrow I'm planting lots of beans. I'm also going to be using old beer bottles and turning them upside side down as garden borders. It's going to look so pretty.