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How to Furnish Your Home for Free - Recycling at its Best

By Edited Aug 21, 2016 4 7

Advantages of Re-homing Other People's Rejects

Can you furnish your home for free? The answer is most certainly yes. The advantages of creating your own much-loved interior in this way are that it's free, but there are other, more important, long-term benefits as well.

If you recycle other people's cast offs you keep these items out of landfill sites. You will help reduce your ecological footprint and help reduce climate change. Hopefully, in the long term, we can help create a better place for humans and animals.

Granny's Chair

Granny's Chair
Credit: Frances Spiegel 2013

How to Find Free Furniture

Setting up your own home can be extremely expensive. Some items and services just have to be paid for, while others, such as furniture, are easily obtained for free.

Most of us start by asking friends and family for their rejects and occasionally neighbours throw out perfectly good items of furniture. You might also see items on skips or driveways - always ask before you take! I recently liberated and old fridge. It wasn't large enough and had plenty of life in it. I placed it on the front drive with a notice saying ″take me - I still work and I'm looking for a good home″. The fridge soon disappeared and two days later a lady appeared on my door step with a large fruit cake and a Thank You card. I've since given her a dining room table and chairs.

There are other many excellent sources of free furniture ranging from department stores, who occasionally hand out discontinued ranges to charities who specialise in helping people in reduced circumstances. There are also websites like Freecycle, Ebay, Gumtree, Furniture Re-use Network, Netcycler, Liberal Estates, Pre-loved, Snaffleup and Recycle.

Our Sofa - the Neighbour's Cast Off

Frances Spiegel 2013

The Re-distributed Sofa
Credit: Frances Spiegel 2013


A World-wide Organisation

The Freecycle.org. website is well established in the UK and other parts of the world with over 5,000 groups and approximately 1,000,000 members. You can give away items you no longer need and obtain things you want. The only rule is they must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Freecycle's mission is to re-distribute unwanted furniture, furnishings, electricals and almost anything you can think of, thus keeping them out of landfill sites.

Vintage Bar - Free from Freecycle

Frances Spiegel 2013

Vintage Bar from Freecycle
Credit: Vintage Bar - Frances Spiegel 2013

Ebay and Gumtree

I wouldn't have thought of Ebay.co.uk as a place for free items but out of curiousity I searched for free furniture. The selection available at that time was amazing, ranging from a dining table and six chairs to a refrigerator, a microwave oven and a bath. The only proviso is that you must be able to collect the item or arrange and pay for delivery.

Gumtree.com is a buying/selling site but, like Ebay, it's always worth searching for freebies. Free items listed recently included a three piece suite, small wardrobe, a futon bed, a chest of drawers and an electric cooker. The only stipulation is that you must be able to collect the items, or arrange and pay for delivery.

How To Get All Your Home Decor, Furniture & Household Items Free: Reduce Debt & Save Thousands Of Dollars With Lots Of Free Stuff & Freebies (Saving Money Series)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 21, 2016)
A useful book to have, full of tips for doing almost everything to your home for free.

Furniture Re-use Network

The Furniture Re-use Network (frn.org.uk) provides a long list of furniture projects and charities distributing essential household items. The network operates specifically to help people in need, helping to relieve poverty and reduce waste. All items are quality tested.


Netcycler.co.uk is an interesting and unusual site. It has over 100,000 users and is available in England, Germany and Finland. The idea is that you 'wish' for something and you offer something you don't need in exchange. You list your 'wishes' on Netcycler and you also list the items you no longer want. The system will search for matching trades. You don't have to swap - you can't just give away or receive suitable items.

Swapping anything on Netcycler is free but you can also buy and sell for which the site makes a small charge.

Recycling Made Easy

5L Kitchen Compost / Recycling Bin with Carbon Filter
Amazon Price: $32.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 21, 2016)

Liberal Estates, Preloved, SnaffleUp and Recycle

Like Freecycle, Liberal Estates.com, Preloved.co.uk, SnaffleUp.co.uk and Recycle.co.uk bring together people offering re-usable stuff and people looking for free stuff.  Anything goes, from laptops and  electronics to kitchen and bedroom furniture.  Recycle also makes money for a number of worthy charities including the British Heart Foundation and Emmaus.  SnaffleUp is a particularly useful site because you can get alerts when items you are looking for are listed.

Shiny and New is Very Nice but Re-distributed is Even Better

What is this obsession with brand new shiny items? Does it really matter if something is not quite new? If everyone took one give-away item into their home just imagine the impact on the environment: less would end up in landfill, consumerism would be reduced, and who knows, perhaps we will eventually become a zero-waste nation.

Additional info on getting free furniture and household goods is provided by my Infobarrel colleague Knighttrader in How to Get Furniture for Free.




Aug 9, 2013 6:00pm
We've put stuff out in front of the house with a free sign too, as well as stopped to collect free stuff that's been sitting along the side of the road, but I didn't know about some of these other ideas.
Aug 9, 2013 8:41pm
Okay, I love these resources!! I am such a sucker for the price of free, and wasn't aware of some of these sites. We're re-doing our space, I'm bookmarking this. thanks :)
Sep 9, 2013 2:35am
Good article and very relevant and topical.
Sep 9, 2013 8:36am
I am a huge fan of recycling furniture. I'd go so far as to say 90% of the stuff in my home is recycled. BUT if you are going to recycle things like couches, beds, chairs, etc. it is really important to learn to see the signs of bedbugs. Bedbugs have become rampant in some parts of the US and Canada. And bedbugs don't just come from dirty homes and poor homes. They are not picky about how expensive an item is.

I have a friend who had a bed bug infestation and I will tell you that they are not easy to get rid of. They are way worse than lice. And once they are in your home they will take over. Be very careful when taking free items and inspect them thoroughly!
Sep 9, 2013 10:39am
Yes - dmcgaw above is quite right - the risk of infection is very serious - so DO please inspect any free items thoroughly.
Sep 11, 2013 5:31am
Great idea to use recycled furniture. I would definitely never ever use second hand mattresses or pillows though. It is important to buy them new. congratulations on your feature.
Sep 11, 2013 6:08am
Eileen - Thanks for reading. Just looking along out street today I notice someone has put a sofa and two chairs on their driveway with a 'please take me' notice. I wonder how long it will be there.
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