Q&A with Max McMurdo, author of “Upcycling Outdoors”

By Shelley Pierce | July 29, 2018
Image by The Quarto Group
by Shelley Pierce
July 29, 2018

Max McMurdo officially started his career turning junk into treasure as a child crafting washing up liquid bottles into spaceships! After graduating from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 in Product Design and Visualization in 2000, Max fulfilled his boyhood dream and became a car designer in Cologne, Germany.  “‹In 2003, he established his business reestore ltd with the aim to design and create a range of upcycled furniture and accessories from objects destined for landfill.  Reestore has been recognized with several design awards and featured in many galleries and exhibitions as well as garnering investors from BBC’s Dragons Den.  Reestore now has a client list that includes The Body Shop and has completed several installations for Google’s head offices globally.

Max is also a TV presenter. After two series of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, Fill Your House For Free and Channel 4’s summer hit, Shed of the Year, he is now the go-to presenter for product design and re-purposing. Max will also be co-presenting ITV’s new show, £10k Holiday Homes, alongside Julia Bradbury in 2018.

In his latest book “Upcycling Outdoors“, Max demonstrates how to transform unwanted junk into unique and creative garden designs.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one copy from Quarto Publishing Group!

1. How did you get started on the path of turning junk into treasure?

Once upon a time I had my dream job as a car designer but found it didn’t make me happy as I was only designing and not making. I decided to quit my job, buy an old vw camper and drive home to my parents, collecting junk on the way to start my very own eco design consultancy (I didn’t really know what that entailed!).

2. Where do you scout out most of the items for your upcycled creations? Do you receive a lot of donations from your family, friends and neighbors? What are some items that you are considering into converting into upcycled creations next?

Well I go everywhere in my van and am often found in skips or scrap yards usually returning from a delivery with more stuff than I took! I obviously have a bit of a reputation now so do attract donations of peoples junk! (Some more welcome than others!) I’m a big fan of upcycling used pallets which I always keep a healthy supply of at the workshop. At the moment I’m a bit fascinated by converting old caravans – to find out why, check out our new itv show called 10k holiday home which airs on the 7th August.

3. The ideas in this book are very imaginative and creative. I must admit I am curious how some of these projects came into fruition. For example – how did the idea of a toolbox barbecue come about?

That particular project was designed rather on the spot, I knew I wanted to include a BBQ in the book as I love cooking outdoors on the decking of my houseboat, the tool box has been lying around in the Workshop collecting dust for a while as it has strong emotional value, that very tool box was the first thing I bought when starting my business and had followed me everywhere. For me that’s one of the joys of upcycling, you’re not just re-purposing items, you can take items with sentimental value and enable them to live on with a slight alternative purpose.

Pallet Tent

4. What are some of your favorite projects featured in this book and why?

I love the cover shot of the 3 door greenhouse as it’s fab for people with limited outdoor space but my favorite has to be the pallet play tents as they are great to make with kids to encourage and inspire them to get hands on and creative.

Download the 3 Door Greenhouse project here, courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group: Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5

5. Do you have a funny story where your upcycling efforts went horribly wrong?

Well there was a moment when building my upcycled houseboat when I was determined to position it off center on the pontoon, the entire thing tipped and for a moment I thought my home was about to slip off and sink into the marina!

6. What’s on the horizon next – are you currently penning another book on upcycling?

We have recently filmed a new ITV series called 10k holiday home where Julia Bradbury and I challenge each other to upcycle a small cottage and a caravan – Watch this space! The next book is currently under discussion but will no doubt have upcycling in the title somewhere!


Win a copy of Upcycling Outdoors!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, August 5, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Do you have experience with upcycling?  Do you have any upcycling tips that you’d like to share?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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