Gezo Marques

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to unwanted furniture in Lisbon, look no further than the bars, restaurants and art shops in the cool parts of town.

Functional retro

Not one of the establishments I visited during a recent visit to Lisbon had matching chairs, which is fine by me, except when they retain an odd whiff of cat pee. The funky lounge of our hotel combined sofas to sink into with retro metal chairs. I’m not convinced by the rusty metal stool they put on our balcony but overall, the effect was eclectic and stylish.

Café Fábulas, Lisbon
Café Fábulas in Chiado is full of old furniture. Singer sewing machines are now tables and sofas you wouldn’t dream of having in your house look chic and comfy here.

Mismatched wooden chairs added to the character of Café Buenos Aires with its burgundy walls, aged wooden shutters and candlelight. Wrought iron bedsteads have been re-purposed and transformed into comfy, romantic seats with canopies and cushions at Lost In in Principe Real, perfect for lounging and admiring the view across Lisbon’s city centre to the castle on the opposite hill.

Creative reuse

The creative potential of rejected furniture inspires Gezo Marques, a Brazilian man who transforms ugly, old-fashioned furniture into functional works of art, like this set of drawers.

Renovated wooden drawers by Gezo Marques
Renovated wooden drawers by Gezo Marques. I love the ladybird!

He also uses old picture frames, wooden toys and other nick-knacks to create wooden collages and chandeliers.

Wooden collage by Gezo Marques
Wooden collage by Gezo Marques

Of course, Gezo is not the only artist in Lisbon who does amazing things with old furniture. João Mouro does a fine job, too.

wooden piano made out of old furniture
Wooden piano, Galeria 59, Lisbon

Where to buy second-hand furniture in Lisbon

Take a walk up Rua do São Bento, away from the grandiose parliament building. As well as countless antique shops, you’ll see rocking chairs and other second hand furniture on the pavement. Many of these will have been previously abandoned to the city streets, only to be nabbed by someone with an entrepreneurial or artistic eye.

Alternatively, you could head to the Feira da Ladra (Flea Market) in Graça on a Tuesday or Saturday where you’ll find all manner of oddities for sale.

Feira da Ladra, Graça, Lisbon
Feira da Ladra, Graça, Lisbon

You might even find something that’s been left in the street as rubbish. If you want it for yourself, take it immediately. Someone else will probably grab it if you don’t!

See more suggestions for places to go in Lisbon here


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  1. since I ve moved in Portugal this is the most remarkable,fabulous web site I ve ever seen..Thank you so much for ur advices:)

  2. upcycling, recycling: must get further boost. Just in order to highlight: make assemblages of junk / remnants. Can see at Barcelona has a festival (, when will be there such a thing in Lisboa?

  3. All for it, Julie. So much more character. I loved the set of drawers and that collage was fabulous. Just wish I had talents in that area. 🙂

  4. Your post reminded me that I’ve not made it to the Flea Market, now wanting to go more than ever. The ‘up-cycling’ of furniture is funky-fun; how well that works is up to the skill of the user, isn’t it? Some of the pieces have such rich histories of ship transport as a family moved to Brasil or Angola, or to here from there. As I gave up all my belongings to move to Lisbon, it’s great to have someone else’s to admire. Thanks for another creative post, Julie.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Susan. Glad you liked it. You’ll find some real ‘treasures’ at the flea market, I’m sure. Like you say, there’s such a mixture of influences and items collected from so many countries around the world.

      I’d love to be more creative and be able to transform them into works of art but I just don’t have the time, skill or imagination for it. I think that’s why I appreciate the work of people like Gezo and João so much.

      Enjoy the flea market!

  5. You can really see a bit of Brazil and Lisbon influence in the Brazilian artist’s work. Portugal must be a great place for antiques.

    1. Author

      His work is really impressive, Eduardo. You should check out his website even if you can’t make it to his workshop. He does exhibitions abroad from time to time, I think so you never know, he might come your way at some point.

      As far as antiques in Portugal are concerned, you’re right, It’s a great place. As well as the shops in most cities, there are usually roving antique markets that go from town to town and set up in a square for the day. Even if you’re not buying, they give you a fascinating insight into Portuguese culture and history.

  6. I like things to match. I appreciate that it would be boring if we all felt the same.

    1. Author

      You know me – always one for the faded charm and oddities. As you say, each to their own 😉

  7. Great fun to read your post and see your photos. I am all for breathing new life into old things, and love the creativity that is often involved.

    Just a couple of months ago I was in a little restaurant in the South of France where all the furniture was old and “mismatched” and that was just fine. The whole decor was a bit shabby but very colorful, and I enjoyed the ambiance it created. I’ve never liked the “perfect” style of everything matching, catalog style. It’s boring and shows no personality.

    Then again, you do have to be careful not making a place look like a flea market!

    1. Author

      You’re right about striking the a balance between style and scrapyard. On the whole, I think that Lisbon does it well but as I said, that rusty stool in my hotel was a step too far – it really should have been scrapped.

  8. Great post, and I think up-cycling is great, especially in cities like Lisbon; as for your question it’s “shabby chic”. 😉

    1. Author

      Thanks, Melanie. Shabby chic works for me, too 🙂

Over to you. Please share your thoughts in a comment.