Sunday, 22 January 2012

Charity Shopping Furniture

The crumbling pile of a house we bought has up until fairly recently been very full of boxes. Boxes of cardboard, boxes of wood, boxes of plastic - all stacked in places which will have shelves and cupboards when we get round to buying them, overflowing with china, books, DVDs and bits-and-bobs like sleeping bags. But now, at least some of those many, many boxes can go into the garage, folded away. We have a sideboard.

Photographed in excitement, before dusting.

Well, how exciting! Probably not that exciting actually, unless you're me and have nowhere to put the Chrimbo china the rest of the year. I got this little beauty at a charity furniture showroom - cheaper than a retro/antique dealer and (due, sadly, to the fact that people who set up home in the 30s-50s are now of an age where they move to retirement homes, or pass away) a fantastic place for good quality mid-20th-century furniture, and money to good causes. Actually, I spotted some new stuff in there too, if that's your thing. Cast aside ideas of dusty and broken down junk shops (although there are some, locally, which I do like to explore), charity showrooms are similar to any other furniture store. The only difference is the price and the fact that when it's gone, it's gone.

Just so early-20th-century...

I adore the crescent moons -
something quite mysterious about them.
This piece is similar to items I have seen for £150; solid wood (Oak) not ply, well constructed and with hand carving. The shade is quite dark, as it sits smack bang in between the two 1930s trends of sleek Deco and the 'mock medieval' of the garden suburbs. I understand that this dark wood isn't in vogue at the moment, but for the look I want in my dining room (faded golds, eu-de-nil and deep woods) it works perfectly, with the advantage of bridging historical and modern designs so that I can source items from a wider range of eras.

The carving on the drawer handles and door panels looks to be done by hand, I like the chunky 'Arts and Crafts' vibe and the half moons. These sit by the classic 20s-30s lines of the door handles, with that classic cruise-liner shape; it sounds like it won't work, but it does. And to bring it just a little bit further into the mock-medieval, you have chunky acorn carved legs. Not only will it store a whole load of vintage china, it will also make a fine display table for silver (well EPNS) and glassware.

The dust came free.
If you're based in London, there are quite a few good charity furniture showrooms around. Most will also deliver, so if they're a bit out of your way, why not take a nice trip out? The charge will go, again, to the charity (although, word of warning- their timings are not as tight as John Lewis or Homebase...ours arrived at 8.30pm, having been booked for 3-7pm). Take your pick:

Fara home and furniture - One of my favourite charity chains, both as it's a children's charity and that it perfectly treads the line between trendy-designer-sorted and reasonably priced.

British Heart Foundation - they have a great store in Ealing, West London. The site is a little tricky to navigate - you have to search your area and then check what type of shop it is. However this means their showroom is a 'hidden gem' right now.

Cancer Research have new homewares on their website and in their shops. Again, the list cannot be sorted by shop type, so you just have to browse.

Oxfam - it goes without saying, the big daddy of them all has several furniture shops and an online presence.

RSPCA- they have a furniture showroom in Hillingdon, to find them elsewhere, use the 'my area' search.

Fancy shopping from home? Don't forget EBay for Charity ... but make sure they deliver if the seller's any distance away!

Do let me know of your favourite sources of furniture, whether chazza or bootsale, London or elsewhere. What bargains have you found there...?


  1. gorgeous sideboard. I have spotted several lovely pieces of furniture in my local hospice shop. i will give them a new home when I get one.x

  2. come out to High Wycombe - our furniture charity shops have loads of G Plan, this being the home of it x

  3. OOOOOh. G plan...sounds a day out!

  4. That looks blooming wonderful. What a find. You are a true master at shopping.

  5. I am not allowed into charity furniture shops any more - as decreed by The Beard. We have no more room on account of finding and purchasing many items from them over the last year or so. Sigh. They are THE best place for vintage items. What a find!

  6. I prefer lighter wood myself, but the design is gorgeous and I'm sure it will look perfect with other items. We have a BHF furniture shop near us, but it's mostly filled with new or contemporary stuff as that's what people seem to want here (if they don't go to Ikea first). I believe the Emmaus chain has several showrooms around the country.

  7. Fabulous piece,and with free dust?!No calories,y'know!!!
    Great score,love,a sideboard thingy is sooo useful! We actually store cds and booze in ours,which I think is 60's.Finding great secondhand furniture can take time,but when the right piece comes along,it's all worthwhile!XXX

  8. Lovely sideboard, that's the next thing on my list too for my soon to be decorated dining room!

    Ah I wish we had such charity furniture stores round here, we have one, and quite frankly it ain't up to much, mostly modern rubbish! We do have a junk shop but he seems to savvy to the good stuff & sells to dealers :o(

  9. Gorgeous unique find, oh it's so hard finding anything old and reasonable in America.

  10. It looks lovely, well done - I love it when you can finally sort something out! x

  11. Aah I love a sideboard, ours is jam packed and we need another. My folks had a similar one to yours, and kept all their homemade pickles and jams in it. It became completely infused with the scent of vinegar over about 20 years so sadly they got rid of it for a modern version!

  12. Beautiful sideboard, we need one for our drinks.
    Love the moon detail.
    Will check out them places.

  13. This a great post! I enjoyed reading it.

    I think this article could complement your post.

    Good luck with your future piece :)

    Regards frm.


Let me know what you think!