A Second Hand Education

…or An Education in Second Hand Furniture

I was a bit late to the party, but recently caught up on Gok Wan’s Fill Your House For Free. In one episode, Gok said that in Britain, we throw away around 3 million pieces of usable furniture every year.


As I picked my jaw up from off the floor, I pondered the reasons for this:

  1. We live in a very throwaway society.
  2. People doing house clearances (for whatever reason) don’t have the time or inclination to try and sell things on.
  3. People don’t think anyone is really interested in second hand.
  4. People have enough money to simply throw things out when they’ve been replaced.
  5. People have no idea that most second hand furniture shops are run by charities and will collect your unwanted items for free. eg. Mary Ann Evans Hospice
  6. Not enough people know they can quite easily and cheaply update their furniture, rather than having to buy new, with Chalk Paint.



Antique, vintage and retro has well and truly made a comeback.

We LOVE things that are new but made to look old. Think shabby chic, rustic, farmhouse, cottage chic, industrial, the list goes on. And we pay through the nose for those styles.

Don’t get me wrong – I still ogle brand new furniture. I love John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Habitat and many online stores such as They all have fabulous stuff. But not everyone can afford to pay those sorts of prices. Plus, isn’t it nice to have something different, that hasn’t been mass produced, that has character?

There are numerous superb second hand furniture shops in Nuneaton, where I live. So on my last round I thought I’d take a few pictures to show you what’s out there…


This stunning extendable dining table, which could seat up to 8 people, is £46.

The chairs, which could either be reupholstered or painted (or both) are £20 each.

Guess how much the nearest comparisons were, if you were to buy something of a similar size and style, from John Lewis..? I had a look.

Dining table: Circa £1200

Chairs: Circa £300. Each.

To paint and finish a set like this – if you wanted to update it or add colour – would cost no more than £60.

Similarly, here we have a beautiful vintage wardrobe:

Large Wardrobe, £45


And these bedside tables:


Retro Bedside Tables, £5 each


I’ll let you look around for similar items to see how much they cost to buy new.

Add a second hand chest of drawers into the mix and you have an entire bedroom set for £100 at most. With another £60-70 you could paint the lot and even afford new handles.

Just a couple more…

Solid Wood Fire Surround, £21
Large dresser/Sideboard, £50

You see where I’m coming from.

This type of furniture isn’t for everyone. But these shops are heaving with items from all eras, in all styles, in every shape and size. The possibilities are endless!

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