There’s nothing more homely than vintage chic, but you don’t have to pay top dollar for it – at least not in Leeds, because we’re about to let you in on a fabulous little secret…
You’ve probably never heard of St Luke’s Cares, but if you’re in the market for a spot of vintage furniture, it’s a name you need to know. They’re a charity, but rather than relying on donations, they’ve set up a series of cool, quirky enterprises to raise the money they need to support underprivileged and vulnerable kids in South Leeds – and one of those enterprises is a string of vintage charity stores.
Don’t write them off as ‘just another charity shop’ – they do things a little bit differently. For a start, they have their own dedicated collection service, so they have a constant flow of cool, interesting pieces coming into the store. It’s free if you just want a few things picked up, but you can also book them for extensive house clearances, which means they’ll do all the heavy lifting, including dropping off any unsalvageable items at the tip – and all for a surprisingly affordable price.
With up to 25 collections every week, they get all manner of fabulous things into their stores, and over the years, they’ve had more than a few surprises. “On one occasion we collected a small bedside cabinet, but when I got it, I could hear that there was something rattling around inside,” Rich, Warehouse Manager & Furniture Upcycler at St Luke’s Cares, told us. “It turned out that it had a hidden drawer at the top, without a handle, so I opened that up and found there were various bits of jewellery inside, including a 15 carat gold ring.”
Not one to take advantage, Richard went back to the woman who donated the furniture to let her know what he’d found, but as it turned out, she was as surprised by the discovery as he was – and since it wasn’t hers, she went on and donated it anyway. That’s not the only unexpected discovery they’ve made either. They were once given a rare still life painting that sold for £900, so you really never know what you’ll find in their stores.
They’ve got four charity stores, each with a different personality. The biggest is their Dewsbury Road store in Beeston, which has a shop out front and a warehouse out back. You step inside this warm, welcoming shop filled with clothes, toys and homeware – but out back, it gets even better, because they’ve got a warehouse filled with furniture. Beds, bureaus, sofas and tables – they’ve got it all, so there’s every chance you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
As well as their preloved finds, they also have their own collection of up-cycled furniture. When new pieces come into the store, Rich will check them over and single out pieces that aren’t looking their best. It’s not as simple as giving them a coat of paint, each piece of furniture is different, and they try to maintain the original features, so you might get a beautiful white-wash wardrobe with original handles, or a brightly painted chest of drawers with the drawers themselves in the original woodwork.
It’s a great way to get a nice, modern piece of furniture, with a bit personality – and it’s actually cheaper than you’d get in the shops, as Rich explained, “You end up with a really nice piece of furniture. A modern set of bedroom drawers might cost you £280 and they are just like laminate drawers, and here you night get something from the 1930s, 40s or 50s, really nice and solid with dovetail joints. It gets painted up, waxed and sometimes I even put patterns on them, I use decoupage where you apply nice papers to the drawers or to the different surfaces, so it becomes something really desirable.”
Obviously they need to sell the items on and raise as much money as possible to support the great work they do, but they also don’t want good furniture going to waste – which is why they’ve recently started doing up-cycling workshops at their Chapel Allerton store, to help others learn how to update their old furniture. Speaking of their Chapel Allerton store, it’s a little bit different to the Dewsbury Road one. It feels more like a second hand boutique than a charity shop, and it’s full of beautiful pieces. You’ll find a lot of their up-cycled pieces here, so lots of one-offs that have that hand-crafted feel – and the furniture is accompanied by stylish pieces of homeware, clothing and bric-a-brac.
In contrast, their Morley store is more of a vintage shop, so if you’re looking for preloved, retro pieces for your home – this is the place to go. Anything that’s got an antique feel, with intricate carving, natural wood and original features gets sent here, so it really is a treasure trove of cool, interesting pieces. And their last store, in Middleton, is different still. It’s all about the community, so they’ve filled it with toys, clothes and home items, all for incredibly affordable prices – and they do all manner of offers to make it that little bit easier for locals to get the things they need.
Whatever your budget, whatever your tastes, there’s sure to be something at St Luke’s Cares that ticks all the right boxes – which is why this store (technically this little group of stores) is one of Leeds’ best kept secrets when it comes to preloved and up-cycled furniture. Check it out next time you need to update your home.
Want to make the most of their furniture collection service?
Got unwanted furniture or clothes at home? Not only will St Luke's Cares take it away for you, they'll also put it to good use, selling it on in their shops and using any proceeds to help fund their work in the community.
To arrange a collection, just fill out the form below and a member of their team will be in touch. Please drop off smaller items or fewer bags of clothes/bric-a-brac direct at their stores.