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The Best Cities in the UK for Upcycling

Did you know that 22 million pieces of furniture are thrown away each year, and over 50% of that is reusable? This means repurposing furniture is certainly an eco-friendly way to decorate your home. However, not all cities make it easy to upcycle items, with expensive second-hand furnishings, or a lack of objects to upcycle in general. 

With this in mind, Tap Warehouse have done their own research to uncover the best cities for upcycling. They have done this by analysing numerous factors, such as:

  • The number of gumtree listings in home & garden per resident, the number of charity shops per sq. mile, and the number of car boot sales per sq mile, to understand the availability of second-hand furniture.
  • The number of DIY shops per sq. mile to measure the city’s accessibility to tools and materials. 
  • The average cost of a chest of drawers on Gumtree to uncover how affordable and desirable it is to upcycle in each city.  

Each city was then scored out of 30 on each factor, with the best score being 30, and the lowest possible score being 1. Each factor for each city was then totalled to uncover the best cities for upcycling, read on to find out.

Upcycling Britain

Reading is the Best City for Upcycling Furniture

Reading takes Tap Warehouse’s top spot as the best city for upcycling which in turn, makes it the best city for furnishing your home sustainably, thanks to the environmental benefits of upcycling. The city has scored 125 (out of 150), the highest of all analysed due to the number of Gumtree listings, charity shops, car boot sales, DIY shops, and the average cost of a second-hand item on Gumtree. 

Are you looking for an interesting find, or perhaps to clear out your old stuff? Well, those in Reading are in luck. This city scored the best for the number of car boot sales per sq. mile in the area. In total Reading has 0.64 car boot sales per square mile of the city – that’s 156% higher than the average, 0.25 per sq. mile, of cities analysed. 

The city scores well for the number of DIY shops, too. Reading placed 4th in our index, with 2.25 DIY shops per sq. mile - ideal for crafty DIYers needing to grab materials quickly. 

Manchester is The Second-Best City for Upcyclers with the Most Gumtree Listings per Residents 

This North-West capital, Manchester, is the second-best city in the UK for upcycling. The city scored well across all five factors, giving it a total score of 122 - just 2 points away from the top spot. 

However, this northern city scored the best for the number of Gumtree listings in the home & garden section. There were a whopping 29.1 Gumtree listings per 1,000 Mancunians – perfect for those wanting to furnish their home in an eco-friendly manner or decorate their home cheaply. 

Nottingham is The Third Best City for Upcycling with the Most DIY Shops per sq. Mile

Nottingham is hot on Reading and Manchester’s heels. Altogether, Nottingham gained a 120 score, thanks to its high number of gumtree listings (19.2 per 1,000 people), and the vast number of charity shops (3.51 per sq. mile). 

Yet, the real winner in Nottingham is the sheer amount of DIY shops, the city scored the highest at 2.92 per sq. mile. That’s 1.57 more per sq. mile than the average 1.35 per sq. mile of the cities in our analysis. Pretty handy for upcyclers and DIYers alike. 

Top 6 Most Expensive Cities for Second-hand Furniture

Whilst having easy access to materials and supplies is great, it’s even better if you can buy cheap second-hand furnishings. After all, upcycling and DIY’s main benefit, is being a relatively inexpensive way to renovate. 

With this in mind, we wanted to know which cities are the most expensive for pre-loved furniture. To work this out, we averaged the cost of the most recent listings of a chest of drawers on each cities Gumtree, these are the results: 

  1. Brighton - £260
  2. London - £195
  3. Cardiff - £177
  4. Derby - £161
  5. Bristol - £138
  6. Kingston Upon Hull - £122

Surprisingly, used furniture in Brighton is the most expensive, costing £260 on average for a used chest of drawers. The city has even surpassed London, which is the 17th most expensive city in the world. Although, London doesn’t fall far behind. The capital is the second most expensive for second-hand furniture, costing £195 on average, just £65 less than Brighton

Interestingly, Kingston Upon Hull is the 13th cheapest place to buy a house in the UK, so you would think pre-loved furniture would be inexpensive, too. Yet, Kingston Upon Hull is the 6th most expensive city for upcycling in our analysis, with the average used chest of drawers costing £122. 

Even if you don’t have the advantage of living in a city with cheaper furnishings, you will have the benefit of being able to renovate your home sustainably. The manufacturing process of furniture can be one of the most polluting. So, you will be glad to know that buying used furniture locally will lower your carbon footprint. 

Top 6 Cheapest Cities for Second-hand Furniture 

Being able to decorate your home with inexpensive furniture can save many homeowners and renters on home renovation costs. Not to mention it’s ideal for those looking to add their style to the home with upcycled furnishings. So which cities are the cheapest for used furniture?

  1. Portsmouth - £44
  2. Bradford - £51
  3. Glasgow - £55
  4. Bolton - £60
  5. Belfast - £64
  6. Reading - £64
  7. Wolverhampton - £66

Home improvers and upcyclers are best placed in Portsmouth. This port city is home to the best furniture bargains, where you can expect to pay just £44 for a second-hand chest of drawers. That’s £58 cheaper than the average of all cities analysed (£102). 

However, closing in on Portsmouth is Bradford in 2nd place. The average used chest of drawers costs only £51, just £7 more than Portsmouth and £209 cheaper than Brighton. Bradford could be considered the second cheapest place to decorate a home if the cost of used furnishings is anything to go by. 

Glasgow and Bolton are the third and fourth cheapest cities for pre-loved furniture – costing £55 and £60. The joint fifth cheapest cities for used furniture is Belfast and Reading, both costing £64. 

So there you have it. Those living in Reading will be glad to know their city is the top-rated for upcycling furniture and DIY. However, if you’re looking for the best deals, Portsmouth is the city with the cheapest second-hand furnishings. If you’re looking to upcycle your home, why not check out which period features add the most value to your home?


Data was collected using Google Maps, Gumtree, and We then scored each metric in every city, starting from 30 for the best score. Then each city’s factor score was totalled to reveal the best cities for upcycling.

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