By: Tim Holt
My first experience with "disposable furniture” came when I was first married to my wife in 2015. We had just moved to Chicago and had rented a cheap studio apartment as our first home together.
When it came to furnishing our apartment, we immediately drove to the cheapest furniture store we could find: IKEA. We picked up the cheapest version of a bed, couch, and coffee table we could get there.
We returned home to our little hole-in-the-wall apartment and began the first great test of our marriage: trying to assemble each Ikea piece together. We eventually decided that divorce within the first month of our marriage wasn’t the best option and each worked on separate furniture pieces. After a “short” time, we had an apartment full of furniture!
Sadly, at the end of our stay there, each piece was falling apart and had no lasting value. So, we did what nearly every other young couple does with their disposable furniture — we sold what we could and disposed of the rest. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones who had bought into the quick-buy-quick-trash world of disposable furniture.
A Growing Issue
Americans bought more than $4 billion worth of furniture from 2019-2021, and most of that furniture won’t last much more than 5 years.
Disposable furniture is easy to produce and is not designed to become a family heirloom. It serves a temporary purpose and at a reasonable price. That is the attraction to it.
A recent study showed that Americans throw out 12 million tons of furniture per year, which creates mountains of solid waste in landfills. That number has grown by more than 400% in the last 50 years!
However, let’s think back to what I mentioned earlier, when my wife and I were newly married and just looking to furnish our home, without a high-paying job or financial investment from a parent. Even if we wanted to get better quality furniture, we simply did not have the resources.
How are others in this exact same place supposed to furnish their new studio apartment in any other way aside from disposable furniture? Is disposable furniture the only way to go?
Refinishing the Past for a Better Future
Enter my newfound passion: Furniture Refinishing.
At the risk of sounding too old school, furniture used to be made to last. This is the reason that so many people look to vintage and antique furniture which is readily available and can be quite affordable. These older pieces just keep on working, they don’t break down easily, and they’re often beautifully designed.
Each vintage furniture piece also has a fantastic story attached to it. Each piece has been a part of someone else’s home — a part of their story — and when you get that piece, its story becomes a part of your story too.
However, I’d be foolish to say that the vintage furniture style is everyone’s cup of tea. The deep reds and glossy lacquer finishes on your grandma’s antique hutch just doesn’t fit the Chip-and-Joanna vibe that many young couples and new parents are going for. It definitely doesn’t fit the trendy minimalist mid century modern aesthetic either.
Enter furniture refinishing and yes, EVEN furniture painting (queue the collective gasp from all of the purists). Furniture refinishing basically comprises removing the current finish on a piece of furniture to make way for something new and fresh. This process involves stripping the furniture of its old finish (shameless plug: use Stripwell QCS for the simplest and safest stripping process!) while retaining its structural integrity and adding your story to its incredible legacy.
What if instead of adding to the landfill, you added your story to the legacy of an incredible piece of vintage or antique furniture?
That’s what furniture refinishing is all about - and you can be a part of the change.
Tim Holt is the Chief Marketing Officer for Stripwell. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three boys and loves surfing, rock climbing, and seeing old furniture pieces come back to life!