Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The Repair Shop's Dominic Chinea's ultimate dos and don'ts of upcycling

The BBC star shares his tips

the repair shop dominic chinea
Rachel Avery
Homes Editor
Share this:

If watching The Repair Shop leaves you feeling inspired and tempted to do a spot of upcycling yourself, you've come to the right place. Dominic Chinea has exclusively spoken to HELLO! to share his ultimate dos and don'ts when it comes to restoration. He also tells all about what he'll be doing at the Ideal Home Show, recalls his unique encounter with F1's Lewis Hamilton and reveals the surprising story behind how he landed his role on The Repair Shop

MORE: Meet the Repair Shop experts' partners: Will Kirk, Jay Blades, Suzie Fletcher and more

Dominic Chinea's dos and don'ts of upcycling

  • Do make sure you have a plan and really think about what you are trying to achieve, this will help ensure you get the best results
  • Do make sure you have got the tools you need before you get started
  • Do your homework and get advice if need be
  • Do come back to it another day with a fresh set of eyes if it gets a bit much
  • Do believe in yourself and give stuff a go as you will likely be amazed at what you can achieve and the satisfaction of producing something you love is addictive!
upcycling© Photo: Alamy

Dominic gives advice on restoration projects 

  • Don't take any unnecessary risks, it is really important to know your limits and when you are starting out don’t push yourself too far outside of your comfort zone
  • Don't underestimate the importance of health and safety and having the necessary PPE or safety equipment
  • Don't spray chemicals indoors and make sure you are working in a space that can accommodate what you are doing
  • Don't give up! Some projects can feel a little overwhelming when you get fully into them but take your time and take a break if needed

Please tell us about your exciting project at The Ideal Home Show, in partnership with NatWest.

The thing I love about what I do the most is inspiring people to give stuff a go themselves and working with the Ideal Home Show is just a fantastic platform to reach that engaged audience. Specifically, I'll be sharing my thoughts and love for salvage yards and how people can keep an eye out for interesting items that could be upcycled or restored to be used in a different or unusual way. You never quite know what you'll find in a salvage yard and that adds to the intrigue for me.

How did you land your appearance on The Repair Shop?

The production team contacted me initially to make The Repair Shop sign as I was working as a set designer at the time. So, I designed and built the sign that sits outside the barn. Halfway through series 1 they called me to help Steve with an item. He was trying to mend a clock from a town hall, and he could fix the clock but getting it out of the housing it was in was more my skills. Once I was there doing that there were other bits of welding and metalwork that needed doing and I've basically never left!

View post on Instagram

Dominic made The Repair Shop's iconic sign 

What's your favourite thing about appearing on The Repair Shop?

I love the fact that we get to work on items that in all likelihood would not be repaired if it wasn't for the show, either as the costs of doing so are not viable for the owners or because they wouldn't even know where to start on trying to get them repaired. Giving the contributors back their items in a repaired condition is an amazing feeling.

Is anyone ever unhappy with their restoration at The Repair Shop? If so, what happens then?

As far as I am aware every contributor has left the barn happy. There is a lot of care taken to ensure that the restoration and repairs are done in line with what the owners want. We are totally guided by them and even though it sometimes goes against what we believe is best we stick with what the owners want, they are their treasures after all, and we are just caretakers on part of the object's journey.

MORE: The Repair Shop's Will Kirk's surprising home with new wife revealed

RELATED: The Repair Shop stars' private homes unveiled: Will Kirk, Suzie Fletcher, more

repair shop returns

The Repair Shop is a hit with BBC viewers

How do you use your upcycling/restoration skills at home?

At home it tends to be more about restoration as I live in a fairly old house, 17th century, which constantly needs upkeep and maintenance, and we try to do as much as possible in keeping with its era which means upcycling doesn't really work. In the garden however I've done a fair bit of upcycling and repurposing of items, for instance using reclaimed wood to craft structures to grow runner beans and sweet peas up as well as making raised boarders to grow veg.

What inspiration are you hoping to get for yourself at Ideal Home Show, in partnership with NatWest?

I've never had the opportunity to attend before so I'm looking forward to exploring all that the show has to offer and meeting lots of creative people and designers who’ll be there exhibiting. I love talking to people and understanding their drive to create or build and sharing skills and ideas.

You used to build music sets for celebrities – have you ever felt starstruck?

I know you want me to say 'yes' and drop lots of names but to be honest not really. The draw for me of being a set designer was not the celebrity or brand but all the challenges that each unique build offered. There was a lot of problem solving, which I loved, in creating the sets themselves and no day was ever the same. Probably the most exciting name that I worked alongside was Lewis Hamilton, as I’m a huge F1 fan, he was doing a shoot and I held his chocolate bar at one point, along with designing the set ahead of time!!

View post on Instagram

The star is currently working on a Porsche 365

Are there any types of projects you would avoid?

Electrics in any major way is probably the only thing I'd avoid as you really need to know what you are doing there. I’m a very visual person and you can’t always see what has gone wrong electrically so it isn’t my skill set, that said my brother is an electrical engineer, so I always call him if I’m stuck.

Outside of that probably not to be honest but it goes back to doing my homework and making sure that I am prepared. I do lots of different courses to learn new skills to help me with projects and I really enjoy the challenge of learning new trades, they give me the confidence to give things a go. Sharing skills is also what is lovely about working in a team at The Repair Shop, as if I can’t do it there is always someone else who has the necessary expertise, it’s a great team effort.

MORE: The Repair Shop's Will Kirk shares never-before-seen childhood photo

Is there a particular car that's still on your list to restore?

My Porsche 356 which I'm restoring at the moment is my absolute dream car. I bought it about a year ago and I've really taken my time over thinking about the restoration. I started work towards the end of last year and I'm not rushing it, I enjoy the journey of the restoration, the problem solving and unknowns along the way probably more than the end result of owning the finished car. I'd love to build a pre-war aeroplane engine race car but that's a whole other story!

The Ideal Home Show, in partnership with NatWest, the world’s longest-running home and interiors exhibition, will return to Olympia London from Friday 11th to Sunday 27th March 2022. Dominic will be attending the show on Monday 21st March. For more information and tickets, please visit

Like this story? Sign up to our HELLO! Mail newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More Homes

See more