Below are tips on looking for second-hand furniture.
- Pay special attention to pieces that can do “double duty.” If the piece doesn’t work out in the way you intended, you can still get your money’s worth by using it for another purpose.
- If you find a piece with great lines and interesting features, such as carvings or embossed inlays, grab it! Those features make a painted piece really exciting.
- Test a piece of furniture to see if it wobbles. If it wobbles and you can tell that it needs loose screws or pegs tightened, no problem. If there’s something more, you’ll need to do some construction work to make the chair safe and useable, so you should only buy the piece if your heart is set on it.
And by the way – to pound pegs back into their holes, just use a wood mallet or a hammer with a block of wood placed over the peg. Pound gently to avoid further injury to the piece.
- Painting a furniture piece is easier if all the surfaces are smooth. That includes the legs, back, underside, etc. If they aren’t smooth, it’s OK, but know ahead of time that you’ll need to sand the piece.
- When examining doors and drawers, hardware that is screwed in is of higher quality than hardware that is simply nailed in. The latter can be tough to repair if the hardware comes out and splits some of the wood surface.
- If you are using the piece for its original purpose, avoid buying used furniture pieces that have missing wooden parts, pieces that are cracked or pieces that show obvious signs of failed attempts at repair. But if, for example, you’re buying a dining room chair to act as a decorative hanger for you silk scarves, then it won’t matter that the top of the seat back is missing … you will just hang the scarves on the exposed pegs.
- Keep in mind that not all pieces of used furniture need refinishing. Some just need to be cleaned. You can rub the dirtiest area of the piece with furniture cleaner to see if the spot comes clean to reveal the wood grain underneath.
- Keep your lifestyle in mind as you shop. Think about how a particular piece of furniture will work with children or pets – will the used divan you’re crazy about be impossible to clean? Think it over before buying.
- A wooden piece with dents in it can be absolutely lovely because it shows character and adds texture to the wood. If, however, you’re not into that look, you can fill dents with putty, let them dry and then sand them smooth. So if you’re looking for high-quality furnishings, don’t pass over an interesting piece just because it has dents.
- An overstuffed sofa with loose cushions is a great coup to find, even if you absolutely can’t stand the fabric. It is incredibly easy to slipcover or wrap in a variety of ways.
- A wing chair is another great find if you come across one. They are almost always well-made, and the classic shape looks great in any décor.
- Most importantly, remember to have some fun! Treat your shopping excursions as adventures, even if you’re just visiting the neighbor’s garage sale.
Now, really, how often do you take time for yourself these days? Make this a time for just you and your fabulous decorating dreams! Let your mind wander as you traipse through old and used items … make up histories for the pieces and visualize the fun you could have with them!