69 million items of unloved furniture languishing in UK homes

From unwanted gifts to dated hand-me downs, Britons are sitting on 69 million items of unloved furniture, according to new research released today by North London Waste Authority (NLWA). 

‘Furniture fatigue’  the hating of furniture in perfectly good condition  was exposed in a nationwide survey ahead of the fourth annual London Upcycling Show this Saturday, which found that 62% of Brits own items of furniture they actively dislikeLoathed furniture languishes in lounges, bedrooms and tucked-away corners for a range of reasons. One in five feel too guilty to let go of a gift or preloved hand-me-down and 30% hang onto pieces as they think they might use for something else one day. In a sign that people are concerned about the climate emergency, the most common reason for hanging on to hated furniture is feeling wasteful throwing away an item that still works (39%)38% are unable to afford replacing an unwanted piece and 29% simply never get around to getting rid of certain items.

With two thirds believing at least one item of furniture in their home could be upcycled and made more attractive, useful or modern, NLWA is urging Brits to help combat their ‘furniture fatigue’ by having a go at upcycling. While 72% say they have either tried upcycling or would be keen to learn, there are some common barriers putting people off sanding, painting and gluing – 27% think they are not creative enough, a quarter don’t feel they have the right skills and others are worried about having the right equipment, space or time.  

To help Brits gain upcycling confidence and refine their skills, NLWA has developed the following resources (available on the website):

  • Inspiration: Follow the journeys of three amateur upcyclers as they turn unappealing objects into desirable pieces and compete to win this year’s London Upcycling Show competition.  
  • Hints and tips: Three step-by-step mini-guides with tips on upcycling an armchair, chest of drawers or cabinet, as seen in the videos.  

 Tommy Walsh, TV presenter, DIY and building expert and judge at this year’s Upcycling Show said: “Furniture fatigue can really get you down – when you’re looking at a piece day after day and just not feeling the love, but not really knowing what to do about it. Upcycling is a fantastic way to breathe new life into a plain – or plain ugly – piece of furniture and it’s much easier than people think. For relatively little effort or cost you can create a beautiful piece that’s totally unique to your home.”

Managing Director of NLWA, Martin Capstick said: “While holding onto frightful furniture is good from an environmental perspective as it means people aren’t dumping items, it’s not necessarily good for our wellbeing at home. Rather than replacing unloved items with cheap furniture that’s unlikely to last, we’d encourage people instead to consider upcycling. It’s the perfect solution as it saves waste from landfill, helping us to tackle the climate emergency, and it can make us feel good about what we already have. That’s why I’m so excited about our fourth annual London Upcycling Show – it’s a chance for people to learn how easy, inexpensive and fun it can be to turn ordinary objects into extraordinary ones.”  

Visit wiseuptowaste.org.uk/londonupcyclingshow for more information. For videos of the Upcycling Show visit NLWA’s YouTube channel.