Home truths from Danielle

PUBLISHED: 12:35 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

Danielle Proud on the cover of her new book

Danielle Proud on the cover of her new book

SHE S been hailed as the sexy blonde Nigella of the homemaking world and she s on a mission to get us making things. Former Letchworth GC resident Danielle Proud, 33, is a modern craft guru with a stack of ideas to brighten up every home. I think the

SHE'S been hailed as the "sexy blonde Nigella of the homemaking world" and she's on a mission to get us making things.

Former Letchworth GC resident Danielle Proud, 33, is a modern craft guru with a stack of ideas to brighten up every home.

"I think the great thing about home craft is that it's something that anyone can do.

"If you think about previous generations they all did things themselves through necessity.

"It's just something that everyone should get back into and have fun," she said.

Danielle's home craft is all about using what is already there and customising furniture at home.

Ideas in her recently published book, House Proud: Hip Craft for the Modern Homemaker, include making oven gloves from old dresses, turning scarves into cushion covers and making place mats from vintage Vogue covers.

Comparisons with Nigella Lawson are understandable - both women seek to repopularise activities which are increasingly detached from our ready meal, throwaway society.

Neither are the comparisons merely coincidental - House Proud was designed by the same team responsible for Nigella's cookery books, and Danielle says it was deliberately set out to look like a recipe book so people know what they need for each idea and where to buy the materials from.

In the same way that cookery is more in vogue now, Danielle is sure there is already a change in people's attitudes towards home crafts.

"There's a massive shift towards it," she said.

"I think people are a bit tired of the rampant consumerism.

"It's a case of wanting to empower yourself and wanting to reclaim the ability to make things.

"Also it's about wanting to be environmentally friendly and wanting to re-use the things you already have."

Danielle's love of all things practical can be clearly traced back to her parents, Rhymer and Michelle Rigby, who still live in Wilbury Road, Letchworth GC.

Mum Michelle, taught her patchwork, needlework and stencilling and dad Ryhmer, who worked in marketing by day and restored furniture by night, showed her how to care for and treat wood.

"He'd always find bits and pieces and do them up. He taught me how to French polish, sand and stain wood," Danielle said.

Although home crafts have always been a part of her life, Danielle's career initially took her in the more mainstream direction of fashion.

After attending Highfield School and St Francis College in Letchworth GC, she went on to study fashion design at Central St Martins College in London, and after graduation worked for fashion label Biba.

Bored with fashion, she branched out into journalism, working for Time Out, Scene magazine and the Guardian Guide.

The two strands of her life - the home craft and journalism - remained separate until she started writing a "how to" column for the Guardian Weekend Magazine.

From then on, she has turned her hand to instructing others how to make and do.

As well as the book, she recently started a weekly column in the Sunday Times Style magazine.

In December she will appear on GMTV and on UK Style, giving advice on how to have a glamorous, home-spun Christmas.

But if, like so many of us, you haven't made anything since you were at school, where do you start with all this crafty stuff?

Danielle's advice is to begin with simple things like making oven gloves and aprons from old dresses and covering notebooks in fabric.

Projects like these, and the others in her book are, she says, suitable for all ages, from adults wanting to create a des res to the cash-strapped teenager looking to spruce up their bedroom.

All of the ideas in her book cost under £10, and even the younger members of the family can get in on the act.

"It's just something that's so good to do with children. It teaches them the value of things, instead of just chucking everything away," Danielle said.

For more information on Danielle, visit www.houseproudcraft.com

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