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Secondhand and pieces from the past can be equally stylish for your interiors as any brand new ones, and without harming the planet in any way. A welcoming home doesn’t have to have a heavy eco-footprint. Here are our top tips for choosing the perfect upcycled and sustainable furniture for your humble abode.


First, let’s understand – why is shopping secondhand far more sustainable than raiding IKEA aisles for new furniture on sale every time.

The society today has got used to a use-and-throw mindset or throwaway mindset, where discounted prices are preferred and the longevity of any product is given very little thought. Products are designed with the whole idea of disposing them in order to control and increase consumption patterns. Secondhand anything keeps things circular, owners change hands and the life cycle of the products increases. For previous generations, well-made furnishings were expected to last a lifetime. Vintage pieces or antiques are over many many years old, by definition, and are handcrafted with natural materials and solid assembling techniques, they were built to last a consumer longer and endure. A dining table today may cost just a few dollars or a sofa may come cheap but it’s highly unlikely that it’ll become an heirloom piece for the future generations to enjoy. In fact they’ll go straight to the landfill after single use. Vintage things will last and stand the test of time. We still have this armoire that was designed in the 60s, (initially living at our grandparents’) and it hasn’t had a single repair since, a little distressing here and there, but I feel all that adds a lot of character. Secondhand pieces have lived a previous life, and any dents and imperfections have their own story to tell.


How to successfully make a home that draws inspiration from the past: 

Whether you are checking out stores in person, poking around a garage sale or shopping online from the comfort of your couch, the knack to finding the perfect secondhand furniture is to search widely and as often as you can. Landing on the perfect piece can be time consuming, but if you check stores or with dealers regularly the chances are higher. Make a list of all the local shops that deal in secondhand pieces and regularly follow up on what’s in and what’s out. You might have a keen eye on something that’s way out of your budget but certain items (if no one else is eyeing it), can depreciate. Also, be on the lookout for newer shops locked away in some remote corner that are hard to find. They usually stock pieces that have marked down prices, due to it being less known. If you love shopping on the web, Facebook Marketplace and Quikr are also good places for some vintage pieces, you’ve just got to look harder sometimes if you want something specific. Wherever you shop, searching regularly will give you a far better idea of the market value of the pieces you are after. Top tip is to compare the offering and avoid overly inflated prices and casting a wider net while searching.

Mix it up!:
Designing a unique space that reflects your tastes and preferences is about picking what you love regardless of the year it was made. There’s such effortless beauty in contrasting aesthetics. An antique piece thrown into a contemporary modern home makes a strong statement and similarly, a rustic chest of drawers with some handmade modern art will create a striking talking point and draw people in. The trick is to choose pieces that are properly scaled to each other and the room’s proportions.


Go after eye-catching pieces:
Be more mindful with curation rather than shopping everything from one place at one go. Scavenge a little! While you will be a do-gooder by choosing to shop secondhand and saving things from reaching a landfill, you don’t want to make your home a secondhand furniture warehouse! Studies show that clutter can have a negative impact on your mental well-being. The key is to buy with clear intention and purpose, and the purpose can be style inclined too. Buying too many statement pieces can look messy. Simplify the process by choosing one or maximum two game changers and add elements to embellish and complement them, then choosing a room full of competitors vying for the gold medal!

Remodel and repurpose:
If you like the shape of something but the colors are distasteful for you, consider remodeling or repainting it to create a one-off piece that fits flawlessly into the décor of your home. You’ve got to have a bit of creative zing and an open mind to imagine the impossible. You can reinvent furniture and extend its life cycle! Just a cautionary note: some DIYs are irreversible (been there, done that and regretted every bit of it!), so if you are not very sure of how something might turn out, seek help! Follow a tutorial off YouTube or reach out to someone who’s done something like it countless times before.

Prioritise utility and functionality:

Antiques are things of beauty, but there’s a high chance of them cluttering a room if it serves no real purpose. Pick items that you know will be used often. It’s pointless buying and then racking your brains to find good use for it. Choose items according to your lifestyle and not something that will be imposing to your current lifestyle. Your home may need a larger dining table or more storage, whatever it is, let the firsthand solution to it be secondhand!

Do your homework and shop like a serial secondhand shopper:
A few more parting words before you get shopping! Be well planned – Always carry a measuring tape on your furniture foraging trips and have the dimensions of your space noted down. Measure your doorways at home and have a plan for getting bulky items through them. Inspect and check items closely, check the stability of the legs, the quality of the joints and folds. If you have a basic checklist and to-do list in mind each time you shop, you’ll be able to act quickly. Also, this gives the dealer the impression of you as a smart buyer and not a rookie.

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