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How to Find Free Furniture & What to Do With It!

On this blog, we mainly talk about ways to repurpose and upcycle your own unwanted stuff. 

But, the internet has made it incredibly easy to get your hands on free stuff too – other people’s unwanted junk that they are getting rid of.

You can get all kinds of things but one of the most common things you can find for free is old unwanted furniture. 

This can be a great way to go if you are short on cash when decorating your home or if you want to keep costs down when starting a furniture flipping business.

Where to look for free furniture?

The obvious place to start is with your own friends and family who are moving, downsizing or decluttering who might be more than happy to give your their unwanted furniture.

upcycling ideas
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Abandoned furniture as well, unfortunately is not uncommon. Depressingly, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen perfectly solid furniture – just crying for an upcycle – sitting on a street in the rain! Such a waste!

But if you don’t want to go trawling the streets, there are much easier ways these days of course.

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Preloved, Gumtree and a host of other websites are dedicated to helping people to sell their items locally. But many of the users on these sites simply want to get rid of their items and they often have sections dedicated to people giving away their unwanted furniture and other items – completely free! 

Why do people give furniture away for free?

There are many reasons people give these pieces away for free, it doesn’t mean that the pieces are worthless, just that they are worth less to the person giving them away – as I always say upcycling, like beauty (and in this case old furniture) is in the eye of the beholder! 

The people giving away furniture on these sites may have inherited it themselves and it wasn’t to their taste, or they’ve owned it for a long time and fallen out of love with it.

But why give it away for free you might ask? Why not get some money for it?

Some people just don’t want the hassle of negotiating with potential buyers or making multiple viewing appointments, or they are in a hurry to clear a property before a house sale or a big move.

There are also kind and altruistic people out there. Folk who don’t need to make money just because they can. They don’t want the furniture, so it makes them feel good to give it away to someone who can do something with it.

Some people get a thrill from thinking they’ve given a piece of furniture to someone who has more creativity than they do who is going to give it a whole new lease of life.

Whatever the reason these freebies can enable you to get excellent pieces of furniture for nothing at all.

how to find free furniture
Photo: Benjamin Voros

The Early Bird Gets the Free Furniture:)

There is one trick to securing the best free furniture out there – I’ve already mentioned it – it’s acting quick.

Most of the sites mentioned above have a facility to set up alerts for listings you might be interested in. When you get an alert for a free piece you want don’t wait to message about it and make it clear you can pick it up quickly – the same day if possible. The sooner you can take that piece of furniture off their hands the better.

I know personally when I’ve given things away on some of these sites I prioritise the person who can pick it up first, even if they weren’t the first to contact me.

This is because in my experience on these sites people responding to free ads don’t always follow through so it doesn’t make sense to wait days for them to arrange pick up.

If you can be the reliable one who comes when they said they would, you’ll have a leg up and you’ll be sure to secure the best pieces whatever you are looking for.

You can find all kinds of free furniture too, from Ikea pieces crying out for an Ikea Hack type upcycle to antiques that need tender loving care to bring them back to their former glory.

To help you out with this, this article will be exploring some of the best ways to put free furniture to good use, giving it new life – while spending as little money on the process as possible.

Use it for it’s Raw Materials

When you don’t spend any money on something, to an extent you might feel less precious about what you do with it.

Tearing old furniture apart for its raw materials can be a great way to give it new life, especially if you received it broken and you would need a specialist to repair it.

Tables can be made into shelves, while things like chairs can be combined to make something new, like a bench; the possibilities are endless if you’re willing to put some work into this.

It’s worth investing in some basic tools, like a saw, hammer, and drill/screwdriver if you want to go down this route and you don’t already own them – the right tools will of course make it much easier to take your furniture apart without damaging it.

I took apart a broken dining room chair that I had failed to adequately repair multiple times and turned it in to a gorgeous outdoor chair planter.  I am in love with it now and it was just an annoying item on the repair to do list before!

Turn Inside Furniture into Outdoor Furniture

Speaking of using old furniture outdoors, while much of the furniture you find available for free will be designed for indoor use, there isn’t anything stopping you from moving it outside at this point in its life.

Of course, this won’t work very well for pieces that have fabrics on them, like sofas and beds, as these are likely to develop mould when it rains.

Wood, metal, plastic, and other hard materials will be perfect, though. If you want to go the extra mile, you could consider using waterproofing treatments to make sure that the materials you choose won’t get damaged by the weather.

I used an outdoor spray paint for both my cot to garden bench upcycle project and my spray painted metal chair project.  The garden bench also has a rain cover but the metal chair doesn’t. Oh and by the way, the metal chair…I found it on the street beside a bin!

A Complete Furniture Makeover

Making free furniture look good indoors is going to take more work than adding it to the outside of your home.

Coffee tables can be sanded down and repainted, while things like sofas and armchairs may need to be reupholstered before they look good again.

Being creative with this can be a great way to turn something that other people don’t want into a beautiful piece of furniture like Alison West did with her velour painted armchair.  She didn’t even have to recover her chair, she just painted the existing fabric! 

We have loads of detailed step by step tutorials to get you started from upcycled dressing tables to chests of drawers, sideboards, headboards and chairs

Stay awhile and have a look around and I’m sure you will find plenty of ideas to inspire you to make use of other people’s free stuff as well as your own unwanted items. 

Flip Free Furniture into a Business

Apart from just doing all this upcycling to add some beautiful ‘new to you’ pieces to your own home, the upturn in the availability of free furniture through these online marketplaces also provides a great opportunity for starting your own upcycling business making over old and unwanted furniture. 

Our business directory has lots of successful small businesses, some of whom started of with this kind of free furniture and then grew there business to the point where they are getting commissions from clients – meaning they get paid to makeover the clients piece of furniture so they don’t have to source the furniture themselves at all!

abandoned sofa
Photo: Kelly Sikkema

You have to be more careful with things like soft furnishings because of fire regulations, but old wooden furniture has no such issues.

You don’t have to let the fire regulations stand in your way though, just do your research and make sure when you strip armchairs or sofas down that you are replacing the old materials with the right materials to make your finished piece legally saleable.

If you are interested in starting this kind of business have a look at our FREE Quick Start Guide to Starting Your Upcycling Business.

Of course there are a lot of things to consider when starting a furniture painting business from furniture staging to choosing the best paints but if your are dedicated to learning all the tips and tricks involved there is definitely money to be made!

Best Ever Furniture Flips!

upcycled chest of drawers pink
Photos: Katie Morris

A while back we collated some of our favourite furniture flips that we’ve featured on the blog and you can find that roundup here.  It’s worth having a look to inspire you, whether you are looking to makeover free furniture for your own home or as the start of an exciting new business venture. 

Have you ever gotten a brilliant piece of furniture for free?  What did you do with it?  I’d love to see your transformations! We also have a facebook group full of upcyclers who would love to see them too – see you inside!

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how to find free furniture and what to do with it

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