How to Do Second Hand Furniture: An Introduction
Buying second hand furniture is a smart way to save money, find unique pieces, and shop in a more sustainable way. "Second hand" means pre-owned (aka preloved) and encompasses vintage, antique, and contemporary pieces. To qualify as vintage, the piece must be least 30 years old. More than 100 years old qualifies it as an antique. Buying something that is already in the existing pool of goods saves the energy that would be used to create a new item, and may keep a perfectly good piece from ending up in the landfill. According to this Wall Street Journal article, the cost of furniture has fallen an average of 50% over the past 30 years. Cheap furniture imports drive down prices and create a market full of throw-away furniture. However, buying second hand means you can buy quality pieces at a fraction of their original cost. When you are considering second hand furniture, there are several things to keep in mind.
Know where to go
Knowing the best places to look is the first step to finding your piece. Yard sales, thrift shops, flea markets, estate sales, auctions, consignment stores, and websites like AptDeco are where second hand deals thrive. Yard sales, flea markets, estate sales, and auctions are limited by time, which may give you the chance to negotiate on price. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount! Thrift shops, consignment stores, and websites are always getting new inventory, so if you don't find what you're looking for just keep going back to see what's new. And don't rule out free stuff found on the curb! Use your best judgment when deciding to take something from the curb into your home. Never take mattresses or upholstered pieces as they may contain bedbugs.
Be patient & quick
Be patient as you wait for the right piece (and price) to come along. Check your local shops frequently. Make friends with salespeople and vendors and tell them what you are looking for. Leave your contact information and ask them to call you if something you need comes available. Sign up for the AptDeco newsletter to be alerted of special deals and new collections. When serendipity finally finds you, snap your new piece up before someone else does! Be prepared by having a photo of the space and the dimensions you need in hand.
Unfortunately, you can't always afford the thing that you want and you may never find it for a steal. Sometimes, you have to get creative to solve your problem. When you see an interesting piece, think about how it can be repurposed to fit your needs. A stool can be used as a nightstand, a large vase can be repurposed as an umbrella stand. With some creative thinking, you can end up with the perfect one-of-a-kind solution.
This series is in collaboration with AptDeco. In the future, we'll discuss how to buy, how to sell, and how to fix second hand furniture.
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