Thrifty Furniture Finds

One salvaged chair, cleaned up beautifully

One salvaged chair, cleaned up beautifully

Old furniture is often an excellent alternative to buying new. Not only are older items more likely to be of better quality, but there is also the thrill of having saved yet more unwanted items from clogging up the local landfill.

If the item you have ‘salvaged’ requires a degree of attention before being fit for use, then you have the satisfaction of knowing you brought it back to life (whether it just needed wiping down with a soapy rag or complete strip and re-paint). You will also have acquired a lovely piece of retro furniture with memories fitted as standard.

So, where to start your search for the best bargains? Here are a few top ideas:

Freecycle

It kind of works like putting a note in the post office window, but with no money changing hands. You either offer an item for free, or request a specific item. Particularly great for finding the bits and pieces needed for sending students off to university, or for children returning for a new year at school. Wellington boots seem to be thick on the ground at key points in the year!

Follow this link: www.freecycle.org/group/uk and it will take you to the main page where you can select your area. Then simply sign up for free on the next page, and become part of a community of over 8 million worldwide.

Go on, give it a try!

Gumtree

Ostensibly a site for buying and selling, you can still pick up a bargain or even do a search for free furniture in your area. It’s worth a try if you’re not in a huge hurry.

Your Local Landfill Site

Sounds crazy, I know, but simply visit your local household waste site (otherwise known as ‘The Tip’), and you should find the lovely folks who work there have sorted all the decent furniture, and put it to one side. They usually charge a very small amount for items, and the money is generally ploughed back into local government initiatives, minimising landfill and encouraging recycling and reuse of large items.

There are often chests of drawers, sets of chairs, tables, TV cabinets, and I once found a 1950’s child’s chair which I bought for £3. After sanding it down and adding a matt varnish, you would never believe it had once been potential landfill.

The proceeds are put straight back into maintaining the Household Waste Sites, but if you have any queries about the process, just get in touch with your local waste partnership and they will be only too pleased to answer your questions.

Charity shops

Usually better for smaller items of furniture, or pottery and kitchenware, these places can be goldmines. Shop around and, if you’re after a specific item, don’t be afraid to ask if they have anything waiting to be put out. They may even let you know should they have something similar brought in.

Some charities have also branched out and have small warehouses to store larger items of furniture. Try an internet search in your area, and make sure to visit regularly for the best finds. These places are always good for a browse, and you’re doing your bit for charity at the same time – so go on, support them now!

ebay

When looking for larger pieces of furniture, there are often bargains on ebay, with free local pickup. Items such as wardrobes, tables, sets of chairs, sideboards, dressers, wooden beds, etc often pop up at a bargain price, because only a few folks can find a friend with a van/trailer/people carrier to help move them.

Happy hunting!

Auctions

There are some bargains to be had at local auctions, particularly if you don’t mind putting the work in afterwards. But, as everyone always says, decide on a budget and don’t get carried away. It’s not a bargain if the final purchase and restoration costs (not including your labour) add up to more than you would pay for a new item.

Close up of my chair bargain, complete with additional decorative touches

Close up of my chair bargain, complete with additional decorative touches

Car Boot Sales

As with charity shops, car boot sales are usually best for small to medium-sized items. However, there may be bedside cabinets, mirrors, small bookshelves, the odd chair or coffee table lurking underneath the nick nacks. If so, don’t be afraid to ask about it – they can always move the smaller items elsewhere and let you carry off your new bargain.

Recycling Projects

Here are just a few sites dedicated to spreading the joy of recycled furniture. There’s bound to be something similar in your part of the world:

Vision 21 (Gloucestershire) www.vision21.org.uk/index.asp?page=reclaim

ReStore Community Projects www.restorecommunityprojects.org

Dorset Reclaim www.dorsetreclaim.org.uk

Premier Sustain (Business-based) www.premiermoves.net/service/the-giving-back-project

So, these ideas not only offer great opportunities to pick up some exciting pieces of furniture, but they are also a great way to get rid of any unwanted items you might have of your own. Here at Victory Living, we always encourage good husbandry, and the mantra ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is as important now as it was seventy years ago.

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2 Responses to “Thrifty Furniture Finds”

  1. Rabby 14 August 2013 at 5:41 am #

    I scored my first haul this summer in the furniture hunting scheme! It turned out that the large garbage disposal area of my apartment complex is in fact quite the dumping ground for unwanted furniture! Here’s what I learned: Do not hesitate two seconds, or somebody will take that piece you PARTICULARLY have your eye on!

    While I missed out on a brand new Ikea night table, I did still manage to nab a lovely wooden chair, two small square Ikea side tables, and a nightstand with two drawers, all for the cost of only some of my dignity, and very sore muscles for the next day. But absolutely worth it! Now my hubby has a nightstand (at last!), and we have some furniture for the balcony! I got some dirty looks from the people leaving their furniture to be taken away by the garbage disposal people, but as soon as they were gone, my goodness, the area was busy as heck with people sizing up potential new furniture!

    • Victory Living
      Victory Living 12 September 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Wow, that’s amazing – I can’t believe people just throw out perfectly good furniture! What great finds. The closest I’ve ever come to seeing free furniture lying around was a musty old armchair sitting outside an apartment building in London. Looked a bit mangey, but the cat curled up on it looked pretty comfortable though.

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