Secondhand Shopping: Part Deux

A few months ago I wrote about techniques for buying secondhand clothes, but what I really love buying secondhand is furniture. I love strolling through the dusty back aisles of a thrift shop lifting the creaky lids of old trunks and flipping through stacks of empty picture frames. Here are before-and-after photos of a chair I found on Saturday:

When you shop for secondhand furniture, imagination is essential! So throw out your preconceptions regarding “used” furniture and ask youself these questions when you start shopping:

  • Does this piece fit a need I currently have? If not, am I willing to give up a piece of furniture I have now to make room for it?
  • Is the piece structurally sound? Even a piece of furniture you acquire for free is not a bargain if you have to spend a boatload of money fixing it up.
  • Do I have the time, expertise and inclination to make necessary small repairs?  The secret of transforming furniture from “used” to “unique, full of character and totally awesome” is to make it look like it never spent a day in the junk shop where you found it. So, do you really want to spend the time finding a set of matching drawer pulls? Do you know how to fix a creaky rocker? Do you want to strip and restain woods?
  • What will be the total cost of this piece? I was given an old cabinet with “potential” last year. It’s a beautiful piece now, but I spent almost $100 on chemical stripper, scrapers, gloves, sandpaper, tackcloth, a paintbrush, wood conditioner, stain and sealant. Can you really afford the project you’re about to undertake?

Now throw caution to the wind and go have some fun! And call me if you find a great used furniture shop.