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Tips On Buying and Selling Upholstered Furniture!

Updated on April 28, 2013
This sofa is somewhat like I'm looking for. . . shouldn't be a huge problem, huh?
This sofa is somewhat like I'm looking for. . . shouldn't be a huge problem, huh?

The great sofa search. . .

Having decided I’m tired of leather – like my huge, curved, Bernhardt leather sofa – I began searching the internet, ie., Craig’s List and eBay for the next furniture to grace my living room. First fact of interest here: I’ve not had absolutely new furniture in probably over 50 years. Once I got past the “must have/must be in fashion” craze as a young woman (and made payments on that stuff until I was an old woman) and got to the “what do I like and how can I afford it stage” (paying cash) – well, everything changed. I’ve narrowed my furniture-buying criteria down to a few, works-for-me rules:

New furniture, at least those pieces in my price range, is shoddy, poorly constructed and does not stand up well when used even minimally. Many of the pieces I’m finding on the market – both new and used – don’t have enough eye appeal to even be of interest. Some of the fabric patterns/designs are way too far out for this old lady. No matter what style, fabric or genre of furniture I buy – I’m going to tire of it eventually; and do some persons selling used furniture think the rest of us are blind?

I’ve had some pretty good experiences with Craig’s List so when I set out to buy – or sell – that’s usually one of my initial sources and I’ve been checking out the area near me the last few weeks – to no avail. First and foremost I’m finding lots of folks selling used furniture want to get out of it what they put into it a dozen or so years back. True, there’s some stunning, name brand sofas listed but why should I pay $100 less to buy a used one when I can add that $100 on a brand, spanking new sofa?

Sofa does come from a home with pets!
Sofa does come from a home with pets!

Cat scratch fever. . .

I’m also noticing that folks selling their sofas because their cats scratched the hell out of the arms, back and cushions seem to be of the opinion that such damage doesn’t matter to anyone else if the sofa still “has good bones!” It’s a fact, dear hearts, that if one’s going to pay a minimum of $250 for a tattered sofa and have it reupholstered in a brand new fabric – it’s more prudent to just go ahead and buy a new sofa and pay a bit more from the git-go!

Other sellers seem to think it makes a big damn to buyers what they initially paid for the sofa. The terrible truth is buyers don’t give a whit what the initial price of the sofa was. Every buyer is trying to find a sofa that fits their needs and their budget and if the sofa was originally $3,500 and the seller is attempting to get their money back. . . well, us buyers have some bridges for sale, too! Upholstered furniture is a lot like new cars – it loses one hell of a lot of value the minute it’s unloaded from the furniture truck into your house – so count on that.

Unfortunately, there’s lots of folks out there selling that are trying to get rid of upholstered furniture because – for a fact – trends in upholstery fabric do come and go and what was fashionable a few years ago looks extremely dated today. The sad thing about that is both buyers and sellers know this and if one’s trying to sell an upholstered piece with dated fabric – well, the price definitely should reflect the problem – but unfortunately rarely does. One good thing about well made, name brand sofas/chairs that are structurally sound and only have the dated fabric problem – there’s lots of very attractive slipcovers out there. Of course, the draw back to that is one may have to pay more for slipcovers than they did for the furniture – and I’m talking about plain, run-of-the-mill catalog slipcovers here and not those custom jobs.

"Slight damage?"
"Slight damage?"

Call it what you want to. . .

In perusing Craig’s List I also found a lot of “mid-century” antique furniture listed. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the period this covered – like the 1950’s – 1970’s (it may have a wider range than that and I’m just not aware of it). I sat back and laughed at myself for taking all that junk to a dump years ago as I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now. We called it “Danish Modern” and in my estimation it was cold, uncomfortable and reflected no warmth whatsoever – kind of like “you can come in but if you want to sit down be prepared for torture!” The prices on those ugly lamps of this period are astounding and what, apparently, folks are willing to pay for this stuff today is mind boggling to me. If I’d have kept mine I’d at least be able to pave the drive now!

Another interesting thing I found about sellers of upholstered furniture is some seem to think including their pet on the object they’re trying to sell (in the picture) is a real deal clincher. How many of the people looking at the ad want an upholstered piece that’s got dog hair, possibly fleas and most assuredly added dirt from the presence of pets? All the prospective buyers with allergies are immediately turned away.

Another sure fire way to avoid getting buyers is to indicate that the upholstered piece has been exposed to smokers – God forbid! This isn’t a biggy with me as I smoke but to some it’s a put-off like no other – and so be it if that’s important for any reason. From the time I got my leather sofa it’s been treated regularly with a leather cleaner that seals it and I defy anyone to take the sofa inside/outside and expose it to a very sensitive nose. There is no smoke smell there – however, if owners of leather furniture smoke and don’t take extreme care to keep the leather treated with a cleaner such as I use – well, leather WILL absorb a smoke smell very quickly and it will always be there – and it’s irreversible (as far as I know).

Many buyers indicate that a sofa has stains/spots and justify that with the fact that they have toddlers so you should buy it anyway. If the damned thing is so stained the seller doesn’t want it why should anyone else? Are toddler stains and smells supposed to be excused and only wine spills and smoker’s burns to be taken into consideration?

In this search I’ve also found another thing to be very, very true. Microfiber upholstery is probably one of the best things that ever happened as to being able to spot clean it or even take covers off cushions and wash them in the washing machine. It’s a good thing and I can’t think of anything more appropriate for those folks needing an upholstered piece that is easily cleanable. However, microfiber is famous for stretching, losing it’s shape, and kind of going flat. I’ve viewed hundreds of these sofas that look like the frame was stuffed into a too large cover – the entire shape of the original sofa is left open for conjecture by the viewer. This isn’t necessarily true of the more high-end sofas but is an absolute fact for cheaper pieces.

And, so, the great sofa hunt goes on! I’ve learned a lot – although it didn’t start out as an educational mission – and still haven’t found the couch of my dreams within 100 miles of where I live. Really, I only want a smaller, white, duck-cloth, sort of simple sofa that will lend itself to a traditional look. I think that sort of thing still exists but I’ve not found it.

One thing, however, is still absolutely true. If I had to gather up orange and apple crates to furnish my living room; I’m still, oh so glad I trashed that Danish Modern. . . oh, excuse me “mid-century modern!” Y’all go on ahead with that, y’hear?

Copyright©2013 Angela T. Blair -- All Rights Reserved


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    • Angela Blair profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Blair 

      4 years ago from Central Texas

      torrilynn -- good luck on your shopping trip -- and thanks so much for commenting. Best/Sis

    • torrilynn profile image


      4 years ago

      these tips are great especially since I will be buying furniture in the near future. thanks for the overall hub.

    • Angela Blair profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Blair 

      4 years ago from Central Texas

      fpherj48 -- would you believe I just found your comment -- after 13 months? So sorry as I'm so appreciative of your comments and appears we're both on the same "shopping page." My search for my "dream" sofa continues although I've found one that "will do 'til then!" Best/Sis

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sis.....OH, how I love this hub! You and I think exactly alike on this particular subject, on just about every point! I SERIOULY, have never purchased brand NEW furniture, in my adult life......and not the least bit shy about saying so.

      From exiting my parent's home, some 46 years this day....I have been lucky to have the "knack," to make my house, a lovely, comfortable home, on half or less than my financially disabled friends......(you know, the ones who think nothing of paying up the gazoo for things....and then constantly cry, "We're broke.?")

      How right you are about the shoddy workmanship on the showroom floors, these days. When you can lift one side of a huge couch, off the ground, with your index finger......that's called a RED flag, folks!

      I raised 4 boys.....not mention that our home was the local "crash" pad for all their friends. We've also always had dogs, cats, hamsters, parakeets and even lizards (they snuck that last one in, behind my back!)......I should spend more than $500.00 to furnish an entire room, that is soon to look like Pearl Harbor? I don't think so! I've done this for so long, even after my troops left home....I couldn't get out of the habit. I like the challenge. ....and let's not forget that I now have 12 grandchildren! This Gram has furniture they can actually jump on and make "FORTS" out of!! LOL....I'll be damned before I spend my time with them, screaming about staying off the furniture!

      I have a "friend" relationship with "Angie," who owns the "Gently Used" store. She got to where she would call me, when she got something new in, that she thought I would like!

      Good luck finding what you want! And Congratulations for being a smart shopper!.....UP++++

    • Angela Blair profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Blair 

      5 years ago from Central Texas

      shiningirisheyes -- the "cat scratched sofa" could become a brand there's so many of them! Glad you enjoyed this little tidbit and always appreciate you stopping by. Best/Sis

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I agree - the 50's through the 70's styles were so cold and drab. I have never acquired a fondness for this particular style. I am astounded at what some people will charge for furniture in such horrible condition i.e. the cat scratched sofa. Amazing.

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article my friend.


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