What’s Old is New Again…. Refurbish and Recycle!


In our efforts to lessen our carbon footprint, there is a growing trend toward refurbishing old furniture rather than throwing it out!  Unfortunately, with so many inexpensive furniture items on the market it is difficult for many of us to justify spending money on an old piece of furniture when we can easily replace it with something shiny and new… often times at a lesser price!  Yet, we know deep down that this “new” furniture item is not built to last and is most likely  constructed from materials which do not contribute to good indoor air quality.

Thankfully, people are starting to take an interest in construction and materials when selecting furniture.  We want our furniture to last, to not give off toxic gases, and to be beautiful and functional!  Is it possible???  You bet!

Here are some tips to help you select quality, used and eco-friendly furniture!

  • Shop your local thrift stores, antique stores and estate sales! There are so many fabulous treasures out there just waiting to be discovered, and hunting them down is half the fun!!
  • Make sure you are buying quality construction, especially when buying upholstered pieces that will be used on a daily basis! Look for solid hardwoods such as ash,birch, maple or gum, and examine the joints. Wood joints should be mortise-and-tenon (where one piece slides into the other, as Tab A fits into Slot B for a toy or model) or dovetail (finger-like projections that fit together like gears do) and secured with glue. They are stronger than butted and screwed joints or glued joints. The joints should fit tightly with no gaps. A frame stapled together or poorly fitted is a sure sign of inferior construction. Look for sagging! Sagging means the piece does not have proper bracing or support. Take a look at the coils. The coils in the seat (and sometimes back) of an upholstered piece give the piece firmness and stability and determine how long it will last. Zigzag, wave-shaped, or interwoven bands are more likely to sag and lose their shape than regular spring-shaped coils. Steel coil springs that are hand-tied where they meet the adjoining coils and frame offer the best stability.
  • Make sure to test for comfort! If you are buying an upholstered piece, test it out!  Does it fit your body?  Will it offer the comfort level you are looking for?
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle a little! Take into account the cost of materials and work you will need to put into a piece to bring it back to life.  Does it fit into your budget?

This vintage dresser is from the 1920’s and is as solid as they come!  It cost $100.00 and with a simple, custom crackle finish, it looks amazing!

No Wood Composites Here!

A pair of refurbished side chairs with custom upholstery can really add  pizzazz to a sunny guest room!

Five Great Reasons to Reuse Furniture

(Although I’m sure I can think of more reasons if I try!)

  • You get a custom piece that nobody else will have!
  • You get quality furniture at a fraction of the cost of a new, comparable piece!
  • When you’re ready to move on, you take comfort in knowing that a quality piece of furniture can always find a new home and not end up in a landfill!
  • Any off-gases from your antique will have been emitted long ago.  Even if you put a new finish on it, it will emit less harmful gas than if you were to buy a new piece (especially if you use a low v.o.c. finish)!
  • You can take pride in knowing you have just lessened your carbon footprint! How great is that?!

Sophia LaMarca C.I.D. (Owner/Designer)


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4 Comments »

  1. Darlynn Sandefer said

    I love these pieces.

  2. Christine said

    Your article left me inspired to reupholster. This was a perfect tie in with Earth Day. Do you have suggestions for bargain places to buy high quality upholstry fabric? Also, would you recommend a do-it yourself approach or is hiring a professional less aggravating?

    • If you’re talking about reupholstering a sofa or large chair, I’d recommend a professional unless you’ve got a whole lot of free time, strong hands and a great deal of patience! The finished result will most likely turn out looking better than if you were to try and tackle the job yourself even if you have good sewing skills. Smaller jobs such as seat pads are relatively simple and can easily be done with a few tools. There are several discount fabric websites out there, but it’s hard to gauge what you’re buying as many times you are getting cuttings from bolts with flaws. Try a fabric warehouse such as UFO or We R Fabrics in San Diego, where you can look at the actual fabric and bring home samples. Also, by working with a designer you will get even more of a discount on the price plus their expertise! (hint, hint)

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