You’ve graciously harboured granny’s floral chairs for long enough. If your inner-voice is whispering “chuck, chuck,” but your guilty conscience is nagging, mydeco is here to help.
If your old couch is boring you, a simple recovering will save you the cost and hassle of forking out for a whole new piece. Sweden-based Bemz sell made-to-order cushion covers for the most popular IKEA sofas. You choose the colour or pattern and they’ll deliver it to your door within six weeks. For other furniture, or more significant work like replacing springs and stuffing, check your local directory or try House and Garden Addresses for upholsterers. Reupholstering doesn’t come cheap, so unless the piece is worth the investment (or you’re a dab hand at sewing), you might be better off buying a decorative throw to freshen up your look. If you’re willing to take the plunge, head for John Lewis where the upholstery service team will collect your tattered piece, replace the fabric and mend it, before returning it to you in sparkly new condition.
If you can’t see much potential in that old couch, have a look at the flamboyant creations of London-based Squint. Designer Lisa Whatmough. transforms vintage furniture with recycled fabrics and a whole lot of imagination.
SwapXchange in a nationwide network which allows users to ‘swap’ their junk for something they actually want (like a nice bottle of red wine). SwapXchange
Surrey began in 2004 and Hera Cottrell, Waste Information Officer for Surrey County Council, has this advice for would-be swappers. “Describe the item you want to swap as well as you can and be honest about the condition of the material.” The one condition is that ads have to be moderated by the council and no money can be made openly through the site (what buyers/sellers choose to do offline is up to them). Islington council’s website has some other good advice tips for swapping furniture.
Call your council
Each local council has their own policy about old furniture disposal, but many offer a free collection service and advice on needy centres that can use your furniture (if it’s in decent condition). Find your local council here or find out more about recycling furniture in your area from Recycle Now.
Give it away
No such thing as a free lunch? Wrong. Freecycling offers you a place to literally give away your unwanted household possessions at no cost to yourself. The not-for-profit aim is solely to get people, as they put it, ‘keeping the good stuff out of landfills’, and there are no guidelines for the condition of product (except stuff’s free). Put up an ad, wait for someone to show interest and then arrange a collection date. You might just find yourself ‘collecting’ a few products in lieu of those you have just parted with. Or for £1 for a month, you can post your goods on Rag and Bone where everything featured has to be in somewhat decent nick.
Paul Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Furniture Re-use Network, estimates that 17 million items of furniture and domestic appliances are sent to landfill in the UK every year. That’s 47,000 items every day – an astronomical amount of
waste. The FRN helped with flood relief in the UK in the summer of 2007, distributing second-hand beds to those struck by the disaster. ‘It so happened that we were doing chalet clearances for Center Parcs at the time,’ says Smith. ‘Now Centerparcs beds are all over the country.’ Relieve your guilt for throwing out by passing on old stock on to one of the charities under the FRN umbrella (there are over 400 in the UK). The FRN usually offer a free collection service and items most in demand include good quality matressess and beds, as well as electrical items. Furniture must, however, pass certain test requirements: couches need to have fire safety regulation tags, beds can’t be stained or torn and gas Shop the UK’s largest selection of cookers are no longer accepted.
The British Heart Foundation has also opened furniture and electrical shops nationwide that will collect your goods and sell them on. If you’re moving home, they will even clear out your whole house for a nominal fee (just to cover the bits they don’t actually want).
‘The Joy of Second Hand’ is what it’s about at Preloved, a website that specialises goods that have already been worn in. Place a free advert and make a quick buck on just about anything.
If your furniture is a classic and in pretty good form, salvage company Retrouvius might be willing to take it off your hands. They give a new lease of life to old pieces and then sell the one-off, unique items for top of the range prices. ‘Last week someone phoned up with a leather armchair but the leather was completely knackered,’ partner Adam Hills says. ‘We re-upholstered it and now it’s selling for £695 on the site. It’s a win-win situation and most importantly the chair didn’t go to landfill.’ Retrouvius take on anything from Georgian or Victorian era articles to contemporary furniture and Hills currently has his eye on the 1950s and 1970s and for hard wood pieces like Mahogany and Teak that would be scarce today. We’ve all got a history we’re proud of, but now there’s a way to put it to good use.