A pair of Windermere furniture designers are waging a war on waste through high-end upcycling.

Alice Serginson originally started upcycling furniture with her business Down the Rabbit Hole Furniture eight years ago.

However, when she met Ollie Gough, who had returned to Cumbria from travelling in Australia, the pair soon became a couple.

Ollie, who has a background in photography and graphic design, joined the business five years ago and they rebranded as Patience and Gough (combining his surname and her middle name) with an open workshop on Church Street.

Alice studied fine art at University of Central Lancashire and then taught herself to adapt and design furniture.

"I think the term upcycling has a very specific idea behind it in lots of people's minds," says Ollie.

"People think of shabby chic and rustic paint. But what we're trying to do is high end restoration work, so we can really bring a piece back to life but also using techniques that haven't really been done before.”

A big part of this involves applying fabric to furniture in order to give it a completely new look, as well as applying different paint styles to create truly eye-catching and original pieces.

"Applying the fabric is probably our speciality and I don’t think anyone else is doing it in quite the same way,” says Ollie.

"The great thing about fabric is that you can use it in cushions and curtains and everything and you can put it on furniture and it really ties the room together.

"We can seal fabric onto furniture so it's really hard wearing. Fabric just adds another new texture onto the furniture.”

The pair mainly work on commissions, with customers approaching them with specific pieces they want restored, as well as sourcing furniture from auction houses, second hand shops and antique stores which they adapt to sell.

"We've developed an eye for finding something that's well made and if we've got a good base, then we can go from there," says Ollie.

The focus is on giving the furniture a new lease of life to last for a long time, encouraging people to invest in quality rather than buying short-lived, mass produced pieces.

"The main thing that we're trying to do is drive people towards recycling and reusing rather than going to a retailer that's selling mass-produced products that aren’t really sustainable,” says Ollie.

“There's so much furniture out there that's amazing quality that's already lasted 50 years and we want to restore it and make it durable and last another 50 years.”

Lockdown was good for business, with people sitting at home reconsidering their decor, and the pair have also made valuable contacts with buyers through trade shows, as well as spreading the word via articles in the likes of The Times and Forbes magazine.

They sell furniture and carry out commissions for customers across the UK, as well as the occasional job for people in Europe or the United States.

"There's a great community of upcyclists out there and on Instagram and we all talk," says Ollie. "It's a very, very saturated market. It's getting very, very competitive. That's why we want to be in another class of upcycling, or refinishing, and trying to set our own standard and do things a little bit differently.”