Buy antique furniture if you want to cut your carbon footprint

‘Fast furniture’ takes a heavy environmental toll, so go vintage with this Dublin sale

The recent announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding limiting his meat consumption to reduce his carbon footprint didn't go down too well with the agricultural sector, with an angry backlash from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association describing his comments as "reckless in the extreme".

This, and the thousands of shoppers who, last year, left their unwanted packaging behind at their local supermarkets, show that, as a nation, we’re willing to debate and take action when it comes to climate change, waste and our carbon footprint.

Despite this, so many people who voice ethical sentiments make pilgrimages to high-street furniture stores to purchase new furniture that is now considered disposable. Recent independent research carried out by the International Antiques and Collectors Fair found that a new chest of drawers from Asia had a carbon footprint 16 times higher per year than an antique set of drawers.

So while we recycle daily in our kitchens, most of us could do a lot more when it comes to our carbon footprint and waste output by the furniture we chose to buy.


Old furniture – call it vintage, antique or simply passed down – is a planet-friendly choice. Produced from seasoned timber, it may have survived generations making it a more durable option than its brand new counterparts made with younger composite woods, and destined to meet a landfill within a decade.

DeVeres is holding a sale, called the Townhouse Auction at the Conrad Hotel on February 10th, to include more than 360 lots of furniture and artworks. "If someone is in the market to furnish an entire house or looking for a one-off piece, this should be of interest, as the quality is excellent and some pieces have no reserves," says Rory Guthrie of deVeres.

Some lots have come from two insurance companies, including an abundance of artworks and a particularly fine rosewood boardroom table. Extending to 365m in length on chrome legs, it would also make a statement dining room table – if space allowed. It has an estimate of €400-€600, which would barely cover the cost of the chrome legs, never mind the wood.

There is a large selection of mid-century furniture of Danish design, with some superb rosewood sideboards. Lot 10, from the 1960s, is 180cm in length with an estimate of €600-€900. “The Danish cabinet makers were superb – I would equate their quality with Georgian furniture,” says Guthrie. “They were built to last but are also very practical.”

Of interest is a pair of Wassily tubular chrome and leather chairs – with the signature of Gavina, which had the licence to produce the Marcel Breuer 1929 iconic chairs (€600-€1,000). According to Guthrie, "These items, while often copied [though this practice is now illegal in the UK but still continues in Ireland], will always have a resale value – unlike reproduction items, which have no value once taken out of a high-street shop"

There is an abundance of artwork, from oversized statement pieces to smaller landscapes: most lie within the €200-€300 estimate range.

Lot 240, a large gilt compartmented mirror (227cm x 154cm) would suit a large hallway or dining room (€200-€400), and lot 25, an Italian brass double bed from the 1950s, is particularly impressive (€600-€1,000).