Home: Why We'd Never Go Flatpack Again

When we were young, so much younger than we were this Sunday morning, we once bought our kitchen from a famous high street shop. It came with a ten year guarantee, it came flat packed. It took us several weekends, one accident with the mains power cable involving a drill and lots of cursing before what we had in place looked nothing like what we'd seen in the showroom. The kitchen didn't last ten years and was tired looking after three, especially that Japanese pink wall we thought would look good in a stone cottage. This is what happens with the followers of fashion. A few years ago we were told that 'brown furniture' was highly unfashionable and was only fit for painting. It was called upcycling. Now we don't mind the make do and mend mentality, even changing the use of something to give it a new life but upcycling is one of those words, that for us, conjures up paint jobs that are distressing to all that do it and look upon it. There are people out there who do a good job, but really, they are far and few between. We have seen too many wardrobes painted garish colours, and a bright pink wardrobe doesn't make you feminine or crazy fun, it just makes you embarrassed whenever a friend comes in your bedroom. We love old furniture for a number of reasons and we hate flatpack for many.

Don't buy flatpack furniture it is a waste of money.

Real furniture doesn't come in a box that is six feet long and three inches thick. You don't have to spend your weekends on your hands and knees searching for an allen key that may be somewhere in the front room but there's every chance no one packed one in the box. Likewise, there are no screws to find, hinges to put on the wrong way round or stupid instructions written in Venusian. Anyone who says they love making flatpack furniture should never be introduced to that friend with the bright pink wardrobe. Their offspring would destroy the world.

Real furniture is an investment

Also, those high street shops are never as much fun as going to those warehouses, antique shops, junk yards and charity shops that may hide that one piece of furniture you have dreamt of. People in Ikea are irritable because they can't see daylight and are in a maze, people who are arguing in an emporium are doing so because they forgot to bring the measuring tape. 

Real furniture allows you be individual and is tactile

You are never going to find a sign like this in Ikea. Let's face it you want it but you don't know why. You may buy it, put it up and run your fingers over it until your dying day, it has no use, but you want it so you can dance your hands across it for the rest of your days. No one has ever thought that about a flatpack wardrobe because a flatpack wardrobe will never outlive you.

Real craftsmanship our matches anyone with an allen key

Which brings us neatly to the final reason. There are tables, chairs, wardrobes, sideboards and nick nacks - yes, lovely, lovely nick nacks - that are older than all three of us at Pig Row put together. When we buy such furniture we become custodians, we love them, we wax them and we know that someone else has done the same and will do the same long after we have gone. No one will be on the Antiques Roadshow with a chipboard kitchen cupboard a hundred years from now with an expert fawning all other the bulging screws, the knackered piston hinge and the wet cracking chipboard that you can smell way down the queue. In fact, in terms of furniture building, the latter half of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first has been something to snigger at. If an alien landed long after we have all vanished, it would be safe to say they would find remains of our civilisation but would surmise we all died out in 1983. Such is the quality of furniture that flooded our high streets after that date. The person who invented flatpack furniture should be tried for crimes against common sense. Seriously, how many flatpack kitchens have be burnt or thrown into landfill sites? Skip companies have survived just because of the easiness of ripping out flatpack kitchens. The handmade kitchen we ripped out at Pig Row to relay the kitchen floor had been fitted in the 1950s, we even saved some of the doors to reuse.

Old furniture we outlive us all if cared for.

We grew up with this type of brown furniture because this type of furniture lasted, just open a drawer and look for the dovetails, smell the inside of a cupboard, find signs of previous owners in labels pasted on the back of a drawer or in the way they cared for a piece of furniture. Flatpack is throwaway stuff, we throwaway the packaging, we throwaway taste, we throwaway common sense. Yes, real furniture costs money, sometimes you can get bargains - and we all have experienced that, you know that little dance you still do when you look at that bargain - but this is a piece of furniture that will take you through a lifetime rather than a fashion change.


  1. Yes! I have a variety of mismatched, old, well loved furniture. A bedside table made by my great grandad. A bureau that once belonged to my husband's great aunt. A dining table I rescued from a skip. A welsh dresser from a charity shop. Loads of copper and brass pieces from the mum of a close friend. I also have to live with a shit B&Q kitchen the previous occupants put in. I hate it! Can't afford to get rid of it yet!