A furniture maker is building a business from giving vintage furniture a new lease of life.
Martin Hough started his business, 23 Chairs, last year for people looking for something a bit different from the mass produced furniture from high street stores.
The 29-year-old hopes revenue from upcycling – recycling an item with improvements – will allow him to set up a workshop and create his own designs.
Mr Hough started his business in Mount Pleasant, Katesgrove, after eight years of travelling around Australia and New Zealand where he learned and honed his cabinet making and joinery skills.
He said: “I’ve been going six months properly and business is going from strength to strength.
Martin Hough, of 23 Chairs, who upcycles old furniture
“I’ve worked as a cabinet maker over the last eight years but it has always been a dream of mine to start my own business, so I’m living the dream.”
Mr Hough, who has settled in Central Reading, sells pieces at his workshop as well as at Portobello and Spitalfields markets in London and via the internet. He has also started repairing furniture to provide a steady income.
Mr Hough said: “I’m trying to cover quite a few bases. The idea originally was to set this up to finance a workshop with machinery and then start producing my own designed furniture. But setting up a workshop is so massive, it’s got to be a gradual process rather than taking out big loans.”
Mr Hough retrieves furniture from auctions and charity shops and then works his magic.
He said: “For upcycling pieces I take a vintage or retro piece of furniture and put a modern twist on it. I like mid-century design in furniture. I’m not into the Edwardian or Georgian periods but [prefer] the 50s to 70s and some war time stuff.”
He added: “I get a lot of furniture which is in a really bad state but has got some really lovely shapes and you can see that with a bit of TLC you can give it a new lease of life.”
Mr Hough created his business in a recession but the ‘make do and mend’ mentality prompted by austere times could work in his favour along with the obvious green element.
He said: “Upcycling is very much an emerging market in the UK but it hasn’t yet got the recognition it has in other parts of Europe.
“A lot of the furniture I upcycle is very good quality and was made in a British workshop but that’s dying what with mass production abroad.
“You tend to find, unless you spend quite a lot of money, you don’t get anything which is made in this country.
“A lot of the furniture I work on has been around 20 or 30 years and there’s no reason, if it’s treated well, it won’t last another 20 or 30 years. I don’t think you’re going to have some modern stuff still knocking around in 30 years. It’s a testament to British craftsmanship.”
Visit www.23chairs.com for more.