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Buying Used Furniture and Home Décor

Updated on November 18, 2014

Decorating your Home can be Easy and Affordable

Have you ever visited some of your local furniture stores and are instantly in sticker shock and also disenchanted by the quality of the furnishings? I was there once also but over the years have developed a love for gently used, well-loved home décor and furnishings.

My first used furniture purchase was several years ago when I made a move to another state. As with most moves, my previous furnishings did not go with our new location, so out for the hunt I go. I went to the local name-brand furniture stores and then spotted a home consignment store. My first visit in I fell in love with the assortment and the prices.

Mid Century dining set
Mid Century dining set | Source
Hand-tufted wool rug
Hand-tufted wool rug | Source

What to Look for in Used Furniture

Because used furniture is usually more affordable, you can be more particular when choosing your items. Some of the details I look for when choosing my items are:

  • Dove-tail construction on drawers
  • Stableness of piece; meaning check how wobbly the piece may be whether it be a desk or a chest of drawers. No one wants their furnishings to move or wobble when in use.
  • Quality of finish. Check for blemishes or deep scratches that take away from the beauty of the piece. Most top-surface scratches can be covered with a good polish, where deep scratches cannot.
  • Missing knobs, pulls, or any other item that is apparent. Some of my worst mistakes have been overlooking the small details that stand out once you have discovered something is missing.
  • If painted, check to see the quality of paint finish. Make sure the piece has a topcoat that will live up to the standards you require.

Vintage lighting
Vintage lighting
French provincial side chair
French provincial side chair
Vintage painted china cabinet from 1920's.
Vintage painted china cabinet from 1920's.
Thomasville french provincial desk and chair
Thomasville french provincial desk and chair

Your Style of Furniture Design

What is your Favorite Style of Furniture?

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Solid wood bedroom furniture with serpentine front.
Solid wood bedroom furniture with serpentine front. | Source

Expectations on Your First Visit

Never been to a Used Furniture/Consignment Store before? Here are a few general items that most stores have in common:

  1. Variety of items
  2. Pricing based upon quality/condition
  3. Furnishings for most every room in your home
  4. Prices are marked but most are negiotiable.
  5. New arrivals frequently.

Thrift, Consignment, and Resale

Do not confuse the difference between stores. Thrift shops will normally have less expensive prices with pieces that DIYers choose to buy to paint or refinish for their own purposes.

A consignment store is where people have put their confidence in the store owner to sell their pieces at a fraction of the cost of new but still a decent price on the used market. The prices are still very reasonable and majority of the time pieces will be in excellent or good condition.

A resale shop is much like a consignment store where the pieces could be owned by other people besides the owner. Depending upon whether they allow booth rental, most pieces will more than likely be owned by the owner of the shop. At times you could find consignment items but as a shopper you will probably not notice the difference.

Every shop out there has its own environment and feel. Most depends upon the owner and its workers. Depending upon whether the owner is active, the shop normally reflects their love of items. In larger venues where booth rental is the norm, as in antique malls and resale malls, the venues depends upon the vendors of each booth. The atmosphere though is usually dictated by the owners.


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