Everything You Need To Know About Buying Second-Hand Furniture
Everything You Need To Know About Buying Second-Hand Furniture

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Second-Hand Furniture

It’s Second Hand September, so we’re taking the opportunity to learn more about the pre-loved and vintage furniture market – before rounding up our best antique finds of the month. With more than £2.2 billion in homeware and furniture thrown away in the UK every year, there are so many hidden gems out there that you could give a new lease of life. For buying tips and to better understand the positive impact of buying pre-loved, we spoke to Harriet Pringle, founder of the popular Narchie app.
By Georgina Blaskey

What’s the impact of new furniture on the environment, Harriet?

While most people are now aware of the environmental impacts of fast fashion, the damaging effects of newly manufactured 'fast' furniture are often overlooked, even though it's just as detrimental to the planet. Furniture is one of the fastest-growing landfill categories, with £2.2 billion worth of homeware and furniture thrown away in the UK every year – that's 69 million pieces of homeware. As the numbers continue to grow, fast furniture is also contributing to global deforestation and increases in harmful greenhouse emissions.  

So it’s worth getting involved with the second-hand furniture market then?

Buying second-hand and vintage furniture is the most sustainable way to shop for your home, as it gives new life to something that would otherwise be thrown away. Recycling homeware can be complicated, as many items are constructed with a mixture of materials, which sometimes makes them impossible to recycle at all. By reusing homeware, we reduce the amount that ends up in landfill, as well as reducing the amount of polluting resources being used to manufacture new items. 

Are there any other advantages to buying pre-loved furniture?

Not only is buying pre-loved furniture the most sustainable way to furnish your home, but it is also the easiest way to create a more unique look. Second-hand pieces usually have a great story behind them and instantly add character to a space. It's so rewarding when your home is made up of pieces you genuinely love, and won't find in other people's houses. I think it gives you the opportunity to really reflect your personal style. Another great thing about buying pre-loved is that you also get better quality and unique designs at a fraction of the price. You also don't have to wait for long lead times, which makes shopping second hand the quickest and most efficient way of decorating your home. 

What tips can you share with those who haven’t bought second hand before?

Get familiar with different design names, eras and styles. On my app you can set alerts to find the best deals. If you’re buying online, ask for lots of pictures to check the condition of the item; it's also worth asking if vintage lighting has been PAT tested or needs rewiring as this can be an additional cost. I always research similar items to check the price is aligned, and if there is room to make an offer. Always measure too! Often you can't return second-hand pieces so it's important to make sure they fit the space. Shop with an open mind and ignore minor imperfections. Focus on the overall construction and craftsmanship of an item and remember items can be completely transformed with a lick of paint or some new upholstery. 

How do you make vintage and antique pieces work in new homes?

Vintage and antique styles can  add a unique and timeless feel to modern interiors. If you don't know where to start, mid-century pieces are a great option. Mid-century design is easy to pair with other pieces and design styles. Start small with vintage decorative accessories – for example, trinkets, vases, plates and art – and build your collection from there. The key is to invest in pieces you love, as that way you’re bound to find a way to make them work.

Finally, tell us about some of the pieces that have caught your eye recently…

I recently bought a beautiful antique Georgian dressing table with scallop detailing – it’s very feminine and in great condition. I have a sage green velvet Chesterfield sofa which gets so many compliments, but I also love a brass lobster I bought on Narchie. I am currently looking out for some dining room chairs; I want some made from oak, and probably Danish designed, but I’m yet to find the perfect set. 

Download Narchie here


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