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Furnishing Your Home with Used Furniture

Updated on February 16, 2010

My Cottage Style Started with Used Furniture

When I started furnishing my new house I realized that I would have to go in debt if I was going to buy new furniture. I enlisted the help of a friend and headed out to an auction. What an experience! I am addicted.

In fact, most of the furniture in my house is used furniture that suits me and my cottage style of decorating.

The Only Thing New on My Front Porch Is the Flower

That's right! The only thing I bought new for my front porch is the hanging basket, and to be honest I felt a little guilty about that.

All the wicker furniture on my front porch came from a night at a used furniture auction. In fact, I probably spent only 10% of what I would have spent if I had bought everything new.

Think about that! Decide how much money you can afford to spend on furniture. Browse the retail stores and see how far your dollars go. Then, visit a few used furniture auctions and see how inexpensively you can decorate your home while not sacrificing quality.

Crowded Auction
Crowded Auction

I Bought My Furniture at Auction!

Let me say in the beginning that I knew that I was going to decorate in the cottage style so buying old furniture was not a big deal. I discovered that my aunt who has a beautifully decorated home bought most of her home furnishings at auction, too. In fact, she took me to my first auction!

I have to admit that I am one of the lucky ones --- having an experienced person with me. I was terrified when I made my first bid. It all happened so fast that I paid a little more than I had planned to pay for the chair I won. But, with practice I became really good at bidding and learned a few good lessons. The two most important lessons I learned are:

  • Set a bid limit on each item before the auction begins, and
  • Patience,
  • Patience,
  • More Patience!


What to Buy at Auction

Okay, so there are some things should not be bid on. My aunt instructed me not to bid on anything that is upholstered. After a little explanation I got the idea. But, as with the sofa above, I could bid on it for the frame.

The table and chairs are perfectly fair game, as is the rug. You see, you don't know who or what may have been on the pillows or cushions. YUCK!

I wanted a sofa frame, so when it came time to bid I only bid what I would have been willing to pay if the cushions had been missing. Twenty-five dollars for a sofa frame that had to be painted was more than fair.

The sofa cushions were purchased and upholstered in fabric of my choosing. But, that's the thing about cottage style decorating. Most of the cost will be in the fabric and fabric covered items.

After all, you can start with almost any wood or wicker or metal item and make it yours with the simple choice of a fabric.

The rug is a 9' X 12' and it was a real steal --- $10.00! It did have a real dirty spot on it but not a direct stain. I guess I could have taken it to a rug cleaning place, but after my aunt checked the rug out --- she knows a lot about furniture and furnishings --- she suggested that I take it through the car wash. That's something that better done on a real warm day, but the rug was clean after one run through.

As a hint, if you ever decide to take a really heavy rug to the car wash, get some friends to help out. I could never have handled the rug without help. But, the car wash was only $5.00 and we had a lot of fun.

Color Does Not Matter --- Until You Get It Home

It you are going to shop at auction for furniture to decorate your cottage style home, don't worry if the piece of furniture is the wrong color. Lots of older furniture at auction has been painted. The wicker chair was green at one time --- worn green.

I guess I'm just not into green. But the construction was terrific. In fact, I bought several pieces of wicker that are considered "collectible" that do not have the first blemish, except for some really ugly colors.

Spray paint and patience will take care of most things that are the wrong color. Pick the color you want and take your time. Once again --- patience, patience, patience.

Have Fun and Furnish Your Home for Less tha You Can Imagine

 The bottomline is simple.  If you are on a budget --- who isn't these days? --- and you want to furnish your home, you may want to learn about local auctions and a little about furniture styles.  It is easier than you think!

I checked comparable prices for new furniture versus the furniture I bought at auction.  I paid a little less than twenty cents on the dollar.  Try beating that one, considering I paid full price for lots of upholstery.

By the way, all my furniture is good and solid, unlike some of the pressed wood stuff I saw in the furniture stores.

Have fun.  Visit an auction.  Learn about furniture.  Save money!

You are not going to find any museum quality antiques at local auctions --- unless someone has lost his mind. But, it is always a good idea to know what styles you are seeing and get an idea of what you want.

Happy hunting!


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    • JennaJackson profile image

      JennaJackson 8 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. I have purchased some of my best pieces in used furniture stores, thrift stores, and auctions. I love finding that special treasure and focal point to decorate around.

      Besides, finding a real treasure, there is nothing better than a treasure that is a bargain!

    • EFPotter profile image

      EFPotter 8 years ago

      Great, informative, spot-on hub! The price of furniture in retailers can really be through the roof. If you're willing to look at places like auction, garage sales, and even some second-hand stores, you can usually find real gems! My favorite piece of furniture came from a second-hand store.