Reducing furniture waste

Reducing furniture waste

Reducing furniture waste is becoming a big concern in the UK. 670,000 tonnes of furniture and 310,000 tonnes of textiles are sent to landfill every year by householders. A truly eye watering amount. Less than 1 in 10 consider having their furnishings repaired so they last longer.

I'm wondering why? When our shop first opened more than 20 years ago, we were selling antique furniture. Antiques were thought to be only for the rich, but we wanted to bring quality restored antiques into anyone homes and we wanted them to be affordable. As the years have gone by, we were having some rather horrid comments about our furniture being second hand. This had never really happened when we first opened, but some people just could not grasp the concept of old furniture being restored and re-upholstered to be used in the 21st century. The only thing second hand would be the frame. Antique furniture was upholstered using natural materials, so no toxic foam or man made fabrics. Very sustainable. If a piece of furniture lasted 100 years, then restored and re-upholstered, it has another 100 years life span. Antique furniture fell out of fashion, so we started making a range of our own furniture, based on traditional frames, natural materials, the furniture antique of the future.

We also started to sell mid century and Danish furniture as that what the market demanded. Many mid century and Danish furniture is beautifully designed and made, with some beautiful wood grain. It is all upholstered using foam. Now foam from the 1950's and 1960's is toxic which is why we have to legally re-upholster it. We recycle any metal springs, but quite often the foam has degraded so much, it just crumbles away. This has to go into our bin. Although we then re-upholster using foam, the foam now is much better than foam from the 1950s. It also lasts. If a mid century chair has lasted 50 years, then it has another 50 years life span. Upholstery doesn't last forever but hardwood teak, beech and oak can last for 100's of years. What you also have when buying restored is a piece of furniture which is unique. 

I do believe that many shoppers buy new because of their lack of understanding what re-upholstery actually means. To be honest, much of the modern mass produced furniture isn't made to be re-upholstered. That's not what the manufacturers want. If you look at a lot of cushions, there is only matching fabric on one side so not reversible. This means you cannot turn the cushions so they are likely to wear out quicker. Many cushions are not piped. Piping makes cushions sit better and look neater. This all adds time and cost to a piece of furniture which means a higher price. You do get what you pay for as the saying goes. Retailers want you to replace every 5 to 10 years and make some furniture so cheaply that it is cheaper to throw away and buy new. Its a cycle that many get into, but if you spend more and buy quality, it will last longer and therefore be better for the environment.

Only you can make that decision if you want a better future for our children and grandchildren.

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Pink Velvet Sofa

Pink Velvet Sofa

When customers want to visit our workshop it can be a bit worrying. Not everyone has the imagination and vision to see what can be done beyond the grubby, and often pretty disgusting fabric! For those who have the vision, a truly unique sofa could be yours.

This Danish sofa was seen by a couple who had not lived in the area for long. They wanted something different. We had a few sofas for them to choose from but they loved the shape of this 1950's Danish sofa. The next step was choosing fabric which can be difficult if you're not sure what you are looking for. They looked through lots of samples, narrowed down a few choices, which they then had fabric samples sent to them. We like customers to have fabric samples so they can see what the colour looks like in their home. Fabrics often look different colours in different lights so its always good practice to make sure they are seen where the piece of furniture is going to sit.

We were delighted when the customers chose this pink velvet from the Omega collection which is from Linwood Fabric. There is a huge array of colours, bright and muted and its a very hard wearing, stain repellent velvet.

Mark stripped the sofa back to the frame, repaired where it needed repairing and re-upholstered it so it complies with UK fire regulations. The pink velvet top cover was moulded and stitched into shape, legs stained and polished and you can now see the transformation.

We were pleased with the result but most importantly the customers loved it. A very unique sofa which you'll probably not see anything like this again.

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Restored Danish Chair

Restored Danish Chair

I'm trying to improve my before and after photographs so you can see what can be done if you have the imagination and that is what you need, imagination.

These Danish arm chairs have always been popular, probably because the are small but also comfortable. Perfect for everyday use, and most comfortable with a good book.

Much of our unrestored Danish furniture doesn't get into the shop. Customers can see our stock on the website, then visit our workshop, and if they have the imagination they can choose the fabric and finish. This means you have a truly unique piece of furniture in your home. Now I know its not always easy to see past the often grubby old fabric, but if you look at a Danish sofa or chair, you can see the shape. They often have a lovely grain in the wood. Whoever made the chair or sofa had taken time to choose the timber and think about where it would look at it best.

They are often not huge pieces of furniture either which is what we specialise in. Small sofas and chairs are not always easy to find. If you have a small space, or indeed you are not six foot tall and want something comfortable and supportive to sit it, Danish chairs and Danish sofas are well worth considering.

The Danish sofa or Danish chair is stripped back to the frame, which means every piece of upholstery is removed. The frame is re-glued and repaired if required, legs sanded, stained and polished to the customers requirements. The frame is then upholstered so it complies with the UK fire regulations, and the final cover of the customers choice to finish. Hand stitched piping is often done to finish a piece off with studs or braid as requested or required. A completed Danish sofa or Danish chair ready for another lifetime of use. When you have quality frames, and use quality fillings and fabrics, this is what you have, a Danish sofa or Danish chair which will last.

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Restored Danish Mid Century Sofa

Restored Danish Mid Century Sofa

I'm not always very good at showing before and after photos as I often forget to take after photos, but this small Danish mid century sofa really shows what can be done if you have the imagination.

Much of our unrestored Danish furniture doesn't get into the shop. Customers can see our stock on the website, then visit our workshop, and if they have the imagination they can choose the fabric and finish. This means you have a truly unique piece of furniture in your home. Now I know its not always easy to see past the often grubby old fabric, but if you look at a Danish sofa or chair, you can see the shape. This is what we love about much of the Danish chairs and Danish sofas we have, their shapes. They are often not huge pieces of furniture either which is what we specialise in. Small sofas and chairs are not always easy to find. If you have a small space, or indeed you are not six foot tall and want something comfortable and supportive to sit it, Danish chairs and Danish sofas are well worth considering.

The Danish sofa or Danish chair is stripped back to the frame, which means every piece of upholstery is removed. The frame is re-glued and repaired if required, legs sanded, stained and polished to the customers requirements. The frame is then upholstered so it complies with the UK fire regulations, and the final cover of the customers choice to finish. Hand stitched piping is often done to finish a piece off with studs or braid as requested or required. A completed Danish sofa or Danish chair ready for another lifetime of use. When you have quality frames, and use quality fillings and fabrics, this is what you have, a Danish sofa or Danish chair which will last.

The photographs below show what is possible if you have the imagination. If you'd like to see our currently availability then please take a look, or get in touch if you would like us to source something for you.

Danish chairs 

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Hardwood Timber

Hardwood Timber

Our 13 year old son has been talking to his Dad today about rainforests. He loves geography. At school they had been discussing the destruction of the rainforests and to plant trees for the use of palm oil. He was telling his Dad they were talking about mahogany and teak which have been cut down and how its having a huge effect on the world and global warming. He asked Dad if he used mahogany or other hardwoods. Mark sat and explained. Yes he uses mahogany, teak and rosewood, but these are hardwoods that were cut down many many years ago before anyone had even heard of global warming. Some of the hardwoods were cut down well over a hundred years ago. Mark was not ashamed of using these woods and explained that we have been reusing hardwood timber for many years. One of the reasons why it has lasted it because its hardwood, slowing growing and had been around for probably hundreds of years before it was cut down. Mark also explained that he does not feel guilty when making new sofas and chairs. The reason for this is we use hardwood beech, a timber which is specifically grown in Europe for the use in making furniture. This beech will last for probably a hundred years so rather than have cheap disposable furniture, this type of furniture is actually better for the environment. Mark also went on to explain that the UK was once covered in oak trees before we cut them all down to make ships and other things needed to expand our Empire. We are now asking some of the poorest countries not to chop down their forests when they are doing this to provide for their citizens. As we are now much more aware of what we have done to the planet over the last two hundred years, we need to help other countries, educate them and give them an alternative to clearing the rainforest. 

As our son said, we all need to do our part and he now wants me to check that our light bulbs are energy saving. I think he's on the right track but as a country and world, we all need to do our part for the sake of our children and grand children.

If you'd like to see more of our beech handmade furniture the click here

If you'd like to see more of our furniture for restoration click here 

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Lock down 3, month one

Lock down 3, month one

One month of lock down 3 already gone. January did feel like an eternity if I'm honest but we are into February now, snowdrops in the garden, daffs poking their heads through so it feels like Spring is fighting its way to get through, and our shop will hopefully be open soon.

I've been in the workshop almost everyday with Mark. I can tell you its not easy. There is only so much tidying up to do! We've made and sold some footstools in January, re-upholstered chairs for customers, finished off a chair which is heading to Sheffield, and currently Mark is in the process of making two 1920's style sofas for a customer in Chester.

We've restored a few pieces for the shop which are on the website, taken some orders for new pieces to be made, so keeping busy. It does feel different from the first lock down. There are more vehicles on the road than before, but its feels scarier than the first lock down as so many more have been ill with the virus. Thankfully, we've been lucky but taking care to make sure when we deliver we are masked and sanitized before and after delivery. Customers have been brilliant, staying at a safe distance but it doesn't feel good having to leave quickly when we have delivered. I do like a chat with customers but now is not the time to do so.

It's also our 20th birthday in May. Yes 20 years since we opened our shop in Shrewsbury. I still believe that there is a future for the high street but you need to come and support the high street retailers before its too late. Shrewsbury has many independent retailers who are here to offer great service which you won't get from Amazon. We all will be welcoming you back as soon as we are allowed to.

In the meantime, I will continue to be the apprentice in the workshop until the shop can be opened. Please do get in touch if you wish to discuss any pieces for sale.

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Danish Sofa Restoration

The Danish furniture we buy to restore and re-upholster is quite often unusual pieces which you may not have seen before. We like interesting individual pieces, and we can see beyond the sad upholstery. We can see shapes and detail that lots of people would miss or would not even entertain! The skills Mark has lets us buy furniture which some would turn their nose up at and dismiss without a second glance.

This particular sofa caught our attention for a few reasons. Its actually bigger than we would normally buy, but what struck us was that it wasn't deep. We have so many people come into the shop complaining that lots of furniture is so deep, their feet don't touch the floor and its not good for posture. This hit the spot and the teak arm tops gave this simple looking sofa, style and elegance without being fussy. We don't like fussy show off furniture! 

It hadn't been long on our website when a local couple came into the shop to enquire about it. They had been looking for quite sometime but couldn't find anything new they liked and most sofas were just too deep. They came out to the workshop to see the unrestored sofa and decided it was for them. They chose the orange wool from Abraham Moon as they liked bright colours. Most of the modern furniture they had been looking at was beige so beige was not even and option on this piece. Orange works so well with teak and is one of our favourite fabrics. Natural wool and hard wearing so ticks all the boxes.

The sofa was delivered yesterday, so take a look at the video to see the before and after photos. If you don't have imagination then hopefully this will help.

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