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How to Buy the Best Furniture for Cheap

Updated on July 17, 2014

Here's How to Buy the Best Furniture for Cheap!

Need new furniture but don't have a lot of money to spend? With a few simple tips, you can learn how to use Craigslist to find the best furniture for cheap.

Learn which furniture brands offer the best value, comfort and durability, the same knowledge designers use every day to create beautiful, functional homes for their clients.

Then use that knowledge to scour Craigslist for quality furniture for your home at just cents on the retail dollar.

I'll share photos of the furniture in my current home, all of which, with just a few exceptions, I found and purchased on Craigslist.

In the end, you'll have everything you need to know how to use Craigslist to find designer furniture for your home!

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Craigslist: Where else can you can buy the best for so little?

— KateHon

Measure Twice, Buy Once

Have you (or someone you know) ever bought furniture (on Craigslist or anywhere else) only to get it home and realize it's the wrong size for the space? That's because most people have difficulty visualizing how furniture will actually look in their home.

So, before you buy any furniture on Craigslist, take time to use this handy planner, with its 1/4" scale room outline and many furniture sizes and styles, to determine what size furniture will fit in your room.

It's much easier to pick up and move the little repositionable furniture pieces than pushing and shoving around full-size sofas and chairs!

Home Quick Planner: Reusable, Peel & Stick Furniture & Architectural Symbols
Home Quick Planner: Reusable, Peel & Stick Furniture & Architectural Symbols

Take advantage of this planner to visualize what size and kind of furniture will fit in your specific space.

The 1/4" scale of the room plan and the wide variety of furniture shapes and sizes make it easy to see how pieces will look in a room.

 

Are You a Craigslist Shopper? Or Not?

Have you successfully used Craigslist to buy furniture?

If you don't use Craigslist to shop for furniture, why not?

Any Furniture Used Every Day Must be Well Made to Stand Up to Constant Use - Use the brand names below as keywords when shopping Craigslist for your next furnit

Click thumbnail to view full-size
American Leather can't be beat for American-made sofas, chairs, and sectionals.  They also make the VERY BEST sleeper sofa, the ComfortSleeper.Bernhardt Furniture began in Lenoir, NC, in 1860 and is one of the world's largest family-owned and run furniture manufacturing companies.Century Furniture is among the world's largest privately owned manufacturers of high-quality, American-made upper-end residential furniture.DesignMaster, incorporated in 1989, makes high-quality, made-in-America dining chairs, stools & tables for residential & hospitality customers.Founded in NC in 1945, Henredon's first product line consisted of 3 chests. Henredon now makes hundreds of high quality wood & upholstered furniture.Founded in Hickory, NC in 1911, Hickory Chair manufactures made-to-order furniture that is made to last, including upholstery, beds, cabinets & tablesSince 1969, Lee Industries has been making high-quality, American-made furniture, a favorite choice of designers everywhere.Lexington Home Brands includes Lexington, Tommy Bahama, Henry Link, Sligh, and Aquarius, and was founded in 1903.Family-owned & run for over 40 years, Palecek is a California company which makes & sells award-winning, handcrafted & eco-conscious designs.Pearson, originally known as Clyde Pearson Company, has been in operation for over 70 years, creating upholstery and case goods (tables, chests, etc)Swaim is one of the most esteemed American manufacturers of handcrafted transitional and contemporary furniture, in business since 1945.
American Leather can't be beat for American-made sofas, chairs, and sectionals.  They also make the VERY BEST sleeper sofa, the ComfortSleeper.
American Leather can't be beat for American-made sofas, chairs, and sectionals. They also make the VERY BEST sleeper sofa, the ComfortSleeper.
Bernhardt Furniture began in Lenoir, NC, in 1860 and is one of the world's largest family-owned and run furniture manufacturing companies.
Bernhardt Furniture began in Lenoir, NC, in 1860 and is one of the world's largest family-owned and run furniture manufacturing companies.
Century Furniture is among the world's largest privately owned manufacturers of high-quality, American-made upper-end residential furniture.
Century Furniture is among the world's largest privately owned manufacturers of high-quality, American-made upper-end residential furniture.
DesignMaster, incorporated in 1989, makes high-quality, made-in-America dining chairs, stools & tables for residential & hospitality customers.
DesignMaster, incorporated in 1989, makes high-quality, made-in-America dining chairs, stools & tables for residential & hospitality customers.
Founded in NC in 1945, Henredon's first product line consisted of 3 chests. Henredon now makes hundreds of high quality wood & upholstered furniture.
Founded in NC in 1945, Henredon's first product line consisted of 3 chests. Henredon now makes hundreds of high quality wood & upholstered furniture.
Founded in Hickory, NC in 1911, Hickory Chair manufactures made-to-order furniture that is made to last, including upholstery, beds, cabinets & tables
Founded in Hickory, NC in 1911, Hickory Chair manufactures made-to-order furniture that is made to last, including upholstery, beds, cabinets & tables
Since 1969, Lee Industries has been making high-quality, American-made furniture, a favorite choice of designers everywhere.
Since 1969, Lee Industries has been making high-quality, American-made furniture, a favorite choice of designers everywhere.
Lexington Home Brands includes Lexington, Tommy Bahama, Henry Link, Sligh, and Aquarius, and was founded in 1903.
Lexington Home Brands includes Lexington, Tommy Bahama, Henry Link, Sligh, and Aquarius, and was founded in 1903.
Family-owned & run for over 40 years, Palecek is a California company which makes & sells award-winning, handcrafted & eco-conscious designs.
Family-owned & run for over 40 years, Palecek is a California company which makes & sells award-winning, handcrafted & eco-conscious designs.
Pearson, originally known as Clyde Pearson Company, has been in operation for over 70 years, creating upholstery and case goods (tables, chests, etc)
Pearson, originally known as Clyde Pearson Company, has been in operation for over 70 years, creating upholstery and case goods (tables, chests, etc)
Swaim is one of the most esteemed American manufacturers of handcrafted transitional and contemporary furniture, in business since 1945.
Swaim is one of the most esteemed American manufacturers of handcrafted transitional and contemporary furniture, in business since 1945.

Swaim Makes Distinctive and Durable Furniture - This sofa's curvy silhouette, tight back and single-cushion seat combine into one beautiful sofa! It's very sim

Swaim uses kiln-dried hardwood frames that have been doweled, glued and screwed together, with corner support blocks added for further frame reinforcement.

These features keep the frame intact and tight, so there's no creaking, sagging or shifting.

The cushions are supported with eight-way hand-tied springs, which ensure a comfortable 'sit'. The single seat cushion is prevented from popping up or shifting out of place by means of clips sewn securely into either end of the cushion's bottom and snapped into place through corresponding rings sewn into the sofa decking.

This Swaim sofa would retail for $5000-$6000, depending on fabric and length. Better sofas often come in various lengths or can be made to a custom length.

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Swaim Accent Chairs - Stylish Seating Similar (But not Identical) to My Craigslist Swaim Chairs

Swaim offers many wood finishes to accent and complement their upholstered furniture, including more than a dozen types of leaf finishes: gold leaf, silver leaf, topaz leaf, bronze leaf, to name just a few.

Swaim is one of the few remaining furniture manufacturers who do handcrafted leaf finishes, which is another of the many reasons why their furniture is so sought after by designers for their clients.

Swaim's quality and attention to detail to each piece of upholstered or case goods furniture starts from the inside frame and is carried through to the finish applied to the outer trim.

Each piece of Swaim furniture is an original work of art!

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Lexington Makes a Great Leather Ottoman

When shopping for leather furniture, be sure you're buying a full-grain or top grain leather, not bonded leather.

Full grain leather refers to hides that have not be sanded or buffed to remove imperfections. The grain is breathable and acquires a desirable 'patina' over time. High quality leather furniture is made with full grain leather hides. Full grain leather is the best leather quality.

Top grain leather has been 'split' to produce a thinner, more pliable result, which is less breathable than full grain leather. Top grain leather is the second best leather quality.

Bonded leather is made by shredding scraps of leftover leather, then bonding them back together with polyurethane binders attached to a fiber sheet. The fiber sheet is often nothing more than a thin layer of flexible foam. Much less expensive that full grain or top grain leather, bonded leather's durability varies, depending on how much or how little actual leather is used in the process, which can be anywhere from 10% to 90%. A common complaint of bonded leather is that it can 'delaminate' or break off the fiber sheet in small bits and pieces, revealing the foam backing.

Lexington all-leather ottomans retail from $800-$1200, depending on the leather and decorative detailing.

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My Swaim Sofa, Pair of Accent Chairs and Lexington Leather Ottoman

My Swaim sofa and pair of chairs were the first three pieces of Craigslist furniture I bought for our current condo.

They came from the formal living room of a Gulf-front home in SW Florida, where they were rarely used. The owners were downsizing and planned to use their less formal family room furniture for their new home and had no room for their Swaim pieces.

Their loss, my gain.

The Swaim sofa came in at 95" long, a bit longer than I was looking for, but fine for our situation, as our condo's living room is quite large and can accommodate it and the chairs, while still leaving room for a dining set.

My Swaim sofa has a straight front, not the serpentine (curvy) front shown above. The sofa's straight front is more to my taste and I know I'll enjoy it for years to come.

The model of my Swaim chairs has been discontinued, but I feel the chairs still feel fresh and stylish to me; that's what good design is all about.

The sofa and chairs are all upholstered in a neutral, nubby texture, and the wood feet and trim on the chairs are an antiqued silver leaf - GORGEOUS!

We paid $1300 for the sofa and two chairs, an 85% discount from their original combined $8800 retail price!

The Lexington ottoman we found on Craigslist features a creamy ivory leather and is 48" long X 24" deep, perfect for the long sofa.

We paid $80 for the ottoman, a 90% discount from retail!

After I had all the LR furniture, artwork and accessories in place, I realized I needed something to fill the corner between the sofa and chair. I went back to Craigslist and found a potted faux palm for $25.

Perfect.

Image by KateHon

Need a Sleeper Sofa for Yourself or Guests? There's Only One Choice to Consider - The ComfortSleeper by American Leather

There's no metal center support bar in American Leather's 5" thick mattress, so you get a wonderful night's sleep!

Choose from American Leather's standard firm foam mattress, or upgrade to their gel or Tempurpedic mattress.

Depending on the space you have available, American Leather ComfortSleepers are available in cot, double cot, twin, full, queen, queen plus, and king sizes.

American Leather ComfortSleepers do carry a hefty price tag - a full-size ComfortSleeper with a standard firm foam mattress and Ultrasuede upholstery retails right around $3000.

When searching on Craigslist for your American Leather ComfortSleeper Sofa, use the keyword, 'American Leather'. You may have to look for a while, but they do come on the market.

When you see one, contact the seller immediately to arrange to see it. These go quickly and to the swift goes the prize!

I tried and missed twice with other American Leather ComfortSleeper sofas I found on Craigslist, and I almost gave up on ever finding another. Finally, after about three weeks of looking, I found what I was after, at a price I was happy with.

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The American Leather ComfortSleeper Sofa is Made in Dallas, TX

The picture, above, is the sleeper sofa in my guest room/office.

Our sleeper sofa is a loveseat size, 72" wide by 39" deep, with loose seat cushions and zip-off back cushions. It folds out to a full-size bed, 54" wide and has a sleeping length of 80", just like a regular bed, making it very comfortable.

We slept on this ComfortSleeper, with its firm foam mattress, for the first month after we moved into our current condo, as I was busy painting our Craigslist-found Master BR's king-size bed frame and hunting on Craigslist for a lightly-used, well-priced, king-size Tempurpedic mattress for our bed frame.

This American Leather ComfortSleeper sofa was the second one we owned, both purchased on Craigslist.

We felt we had gotten a great deal when we found our first ComfortSleeper loveseat for $600, since it was in perfect shape. We reluctantly sold it to the buyers of our rental condo, wondering how or if we could ever replace it with another.

Happily, we found our current American Leather ComfortSleeper in the perfect color on Craigslist for only $200, over 94% off retail!

As with our first ComfortSleeper, this loveseat also has an easy-clean Ultrasuede fabric and the condition was even better than our first one, as the back and seat cushions had never been removed, nor had the ComfortSleeper mattress ever been used!

Look for American Leather sofas, loveseats, chairs and sectionals in sleeper and non-sleeper styles, in leather, fabric and Ultrasuede upholstery. They are all excellently made and a true value (and an even better value on Craigslist)!

You can't go wrong with an American Leather product!

A Skirted English-Arm Club Chair - A Classic Chair by Pearson Furniture

Designers everywhere use Pearson as their go-to source for comfortable chairs, especially Pearson's skirted English-arm club chair.

You'll know an English-Arm (or English Roll-Arm) chair (or sofa) when you see low-profile arms set back from the front edge of the chair (or sofa) seat.

Pearson, like all quality furniture manufacturers, uses a kiln-dried hardwood frame, with dowel, block, glue and screw construction. Good support is provided with 8-way, hand-tied springs, and cushions are filled with Dacron-wrapped, foam-core or down-filled inserts, with firmness ranging from very firm to very soft, depending on the customer's taste.

Personally, I prefer my chair seat support to be more firm than soft, but when you buy used furniture on Craigslist, you don't really have a choice, you just have to hope for the best.

I also like my furniture upholstery to be neutral rather than patterned, as I tire of big blocks of pattern quickly. It's easier and less expensive to use decorative pillows to bring pattern into a room than to commit to a large patterned piece of furniture.

The retail price for a skirted English-arm club chair by Pearson runs right around $1500, depending on fabric and trim, if any.

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A Skirted English-Arm Club Chair by Pearson is a Perfect Reading Chair and Can be Used in Any Room

When I was looking for furniture for our current condo, I wanted a club chair to use in the living room with my Swaim pieces.

I knew Pearson made great club chairs, so I typed in 'Pearson' as my keyword and began my search.

When I saw this Pearson chair on Craigslist, I immediately called the seller, a consignment store, and said we were driving right over and asked them to please not sell it before we got there.

When we arrived, I had my husband sit in it, since I was getting it primarily with him in mind.

As he sat down, the look on his face clearly said, "Yeah, yeah, one chair's just like another, so what's the big deal about this one?"

But when he was seated, that scornful look changed to one of surprise:

"Hey! This is really comfortable. I like it!"

The consignment store was asking $200 for the chair, but we were able to negotiate it down to $150, 90% off retail!

However, when the time came to arrange the LR furniture, it quickly became clear the Pearson chair wouldn't work where I thought it would.

Hunh. Now what?

I shoved it out to the lanai, just to get it out of the way more than anything else, and decided to think about it later.

Later...

When later finally came, I realized it would make a great reading chair on the lanai, paired with a side table and lamp, opposite a petite settee.

The chair's neutral fabric is accented with a Suzani-patterned pillow, tying in the settee's blue upholstery.

By repeating the gold tone of the Suzani pillow in the side table's lamp, the settee's pillows and throw, everything in the room became cohesive.

My husband uses the Pearson chair regularly to read the paper, do Sudoku puzzles, or just relax and take in the lovely tropical garden right outside.

It's a great chair, at a really great price!

Images by KateHon

Add Pattern, Color and Drama to Your Home with Decorative Pillows - Always choose feather/down pillow inserts for a more luxe look

Keep allergy-causing dust mites from making their home in your feather/down pillow insert by placing a dust-mite-proof pillow cover over your pillow insert.

White Feather/Down Pillow Form White 22" x 22"
White Feather/Down Pillow Form White 22" x 22"

Use feather/down pillow forms that are 2" larger than your finished pillow cover for a fuller, plumper decorative pillow

 
Allersoft Square Cotton Dust Mite and Allergy Control Pillow Protector, 26 by 26-Inch
Allersoft Square Cotton Dust Mite and Allergy Control Pillow Protector, 26 by 26-Inch

No more dust mites or allergies when you use this pillow protector. Available in various sizes.

 

I Used Craigslist to Find the Rest of My Condo Furniture - The idea is to buy well-made furniture for a fraction of the retail price, which I think I did!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
DR set: $240; China Cabinet: (Originally stained; I painted it, inside and out) $100; DR light fixture from Habitat for Humanity ReStore: $25China Cabinet InteriorDIY DR artwork: We bought Ikea frames, handmade paper found online, Walmart fabric for the background & assembled them ourselves for $50 eachView of LR/DR from LanaiBowfront Console (Originally it was banana yellow: I painted it dark teal): $80LR TV Cabinet with fluted corners and legs: (Originally stained, I painted it black) $50Lanai Settee: Found @ Habitat for Humanity ReStore with new upholstery for $65Lanai Side Table: (Originally badly painted; I repainted it black & added crystal knobs) $50Master: King headboard: $200; Lane bedside tables: Free (bed was mahogany, side tables were black; Painted off white); King Tempurpedic mattress: $500Bed Steps: (Originally covered with a bright blue paisley pattern - awful; I painted them off white): $20Master BR Swivel Rocker in like-new, perfect condition: $35Master BR Campaign Furniture: (Originally stained; exterior now off white, drawer & cabinet interiors now blue/green, hardware now copper/bronze) $60Master BR: Side Table (Inherited) $0; Artwork (DIY) $20; Valance (DIY) $30Kitchen Baker's Rack with marble top and covered storage: $100
DR set: $240; China Cabinet: (Originally stained; I painted it, inside and out) $100; DR light fixture from Habitat for Humanity ReStore: $25
DR set: $240; China Cabinet: (Originally stained; I painted it, inside and out) $100; DR light fixture from Habitat for Humanity ReStore: $25
China Cabinet Interior
China Cabinet Interior
DIY DR artwork: We bought Ikea frames, handmade paper found online, Walmart fabric for the background & assembled them ourselves for $50 each
DIY DR artwork: We bought Ikea frames, handmade paper found online, Walmart fabric for the background & assembled them ourselves for $50 each
View of LR/DR from Lanai
View of LR/DR from Lanai
Bowfront Console (Originally it was banana yellow: I painted it dark teal): $80
Bowfront Console (Originally it was banana yellow: I painted it dark teal): $80
LR TV Cabinet with fluted corners and legs: (Originally stained, I painted it black) $50
LR TV Cabinet with fluted corners and legs: (Originally stained, I painted it black) $50
Lanai Settee: Found @ Habitat for Humanity ReStore with new upholstery for $65
Lanai Settee: Found @ Habitat for Humanity ReStore with new upholstery for $65
Lanai Side Table: (Originally badly painted; I repainted it black & added crystal knobs) $50
Lanai Side Table: (Originally badly painted; I repainted it black & added crystal knobs) $50
Master: King headboard: $200; Lane bedside tables: Free (bed was mahogany, side tables were black; Painted off white); King Tempurpedic mattress: $500
Master: King headboard: $200; Lane bedside tables: Free (bed was mahogany, side tables were black; Painted off white); King Tempurpedic mattress: $500
Bed Steps: (Originally covered with a bright blue paisley pattern - awful; I painted them off white): $20
Bed Steps: (Originally covered with a bright blue paisley pattern - awful; I painted them off white): $20
Master BR Swivel Rocker in like-new, perfect condition: $35
Master BR Swivel Rocker in like-new, perfect condition: $35
Master BR Campaign Furniture: (Originally stained; exterior now off white, drawer & cabinet interiors now blue/green, hardware now copper/bronze) $60
Master BR Campaign Furniture: (Originally stained; exterior now off white, drawer & cabinet interiors now blue/green, hardware now copper/bronze) $60
Master BR: Side Table (Inherited) $0; Artwork (DIY) $20; Valance (DIY) $30
Master BR: Side Table (Inherited) $0; Artwork (DIY) $20; Valance (DIY) $30
Kitchen Baker's Rack with marble top and covered storage: $100
Kitchen Baker's Rack with marble top and covered storage: $100

Which Piece of Designer (or Other) Furniture Found on Craigslist Do You Like the Best?

Pick your favorite!

See results

Now That You Know How to Use Craigslist to Find Designer Furniture for Your Home, What are You Going to Do? - Will you give it a shot? Or not? Tell all here!

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