Now, though, recycling and upcycling has become a huge trend, thanks to the backing of celebrated design figures such as Wayne Hemingway and Timothy Oulton.
It’s even produced its own TV show, Something For Nothing, where dumped ‘finds’ are skilfully crafted into beautiful pieces of furniture that bring as much as £1,000 when sold.
We can’t all be handy with the sander and the upholstery stapler, so thankfully, British designers are providing an easy path to the world of reclamation and salvage.
Timothy Oulton, for instance, was first inspired to create his reclaimed-wood furniture by early experience in the antiques business – but while his pieces are stylish beyond belief, they are also bang up to date.
We’re also impressed by Little Tree Furniture, another British company who spend a great deal of time in India sourcing timbers from exotic sources such as fortress doors and fishing boats to turn into exquisite furniture.
So we know salvaged furniture is now not only fabulously eco-friendly, it’s also – officially – the coolest furniture on the planet.
But how do you make the most of it? After all, a reclaimed piece is usually not cheap (unless you’ve made it yourself) and nor should it be – every one is individual because of the sourcing of the material, and a great deal of design ingenuity and skill goes into each one.
It does mean, though, that you need to make the most of a beautiful salvaged or restored-wood piece of furniture.
It’s guaranteed to be a talking point for your guests, so make sure it’s shown off to the best effect with clever lighting at night and subtle daytime effects achieved with blinds that can adapt the illumination in the room.
So make the most of that superb surface and mix and match your reclaimed furniture so it contrasts with highly reflective surfaces such as mirrors and chrome.
Reclaimed pieces often have a carefully-distressed look about them, so they work well in industrial-inspired settings. Try them against bare brickwork, waxed natural wooden floors and patterned rugs in natural fabrics such as wool.
Accessories should also be carefully chosen to frame the reclaimed piece. If it’s painted, pick out a keynote colour and accessories to match that – but subtly, so the appeal is highlighted rather than overwhelmed.
It’s not all dark and intimate, though -–some reclaimed furniture carries a Shaker vibe which works well against white walls and light wooden flooring.
So source your reclaimed furniture well, and create a setting for it that your guests will admire. Then sit back and enjoy the beauty – safe in the knowledge that while it may have been a trifle expensive, your new talking point hasn’t cost the earth.