Furniture For Your House For Less [Used Furniture Guide]

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 12/10/21 •  9 min read

Today, Jane is here to talk about used furniture for your house. She has furnished her entire living room for – wait for it – $750! Let’s see how she did it…

Hi everyone! I’m Jane from The Borrowed Abode, where I blog about decorating my rental home on a small budget and starting my own business.

To me, the best parts of decorating with vintage and thrift furniture are the stories that accompany each addition.

My boyfriend and I have been furnishing our home for the last year and a half, and I’m amazed to look around and see that almost everything in our house has a story behind it – and by the story, I don’t mean “we drove to Macy’s and bought this couch brand new.”

Our furniture stories are more like “Oh, I remember this lamp. We found it in that cute little town in New Hampshire, right after we had that tasty breakfast at the old Mill, and before we went on the hike up that mountain.” Or Ryan would say “Oh, I remember this chair. Jane made me help her carry it home from the neighbor’s garbage pile, and it was 100 degrees out that day.”

First, let’s start with the most important part. Why buy used furniture for your house?

Example: None of the furniture in my living room (below) was bought new – that’s how we managed to create this space for less than $750. While that’s still a lot of money (to me, at least), it was totally doable over the course of a year or two.

Where do you find *good* used furniture, without paying an arm and a leg for an antique?

Example: We found this sweet mid-century modern stereo cabinet/storage unit this way, and are planning on refinishing it as a wedding gift for our good friends.

Used furniture for your home: how to

Tips for shopping for thrift/secondhand/vintage furniture:

  1. Take your time. You’ll often find “good deals” on furniture at the venues mentioned above – but if it’s not a piece that you need for your home, or it’s not really your style, don’t get it “just because it’s such a good deal.” If I could go back in time about 10 years and tell myself this, it would really have helped my budget!
  2. To avoid making the above mistakes, before you shop – Prioritize! What pieces do you need most in your house? It helps to keep a short list in your purse or wallet, specifying what pieces you are looking for (along with measurements of what will fit your space), or what storage/decorating challenges you need to tackle. This way you can make sure you leave the shop with only what you need!
  3. Seek out the lesser known thrift stores – Goodwill and Salvation Army are great, but most places have smaller, independent stores – often run by charities such as the Lyons Club or the local animal welfare organization. These often have lesser-known furniture stashes, and while their selection may be smaller, they often yield top-notch results!
  4. Consider what imperfections you can deal with. If you’re a DIYer, then you can fix up just about any item. If you’re not a DIYer then it may take you longer to find just what you need, but it’s still totally feasible.
  5. Before you dish out the dough for the furniture, always make sure to inspect its condition. I learned this the hard way, when I failed to inspect the underside of an item until we were loading it into the car. We’d have asked for a lower price if we’d seen the cracks in the base before purchase.
  6. Psst: In all of the venues listed above, you can usually negotiate and save even more money.

Example: By taking my time and knowing exactly what I wanted in a living room sofa, I was able to get this $1600 Crate and Barrel sofa used on Craigslist for only $300. Why? Because there’s a hole in the upholstery on one arm. I simply covered it with a cozy throw blanket. Perfect!

I’ve got the used furniture, now what do I do with it?

Before you bring your sweet scores into your home, take these steps to ensure no “unwanted guests” sneak into your home with the furniture. Go with your gut. If the home or store you found your treasures in seemed clean and well-cared-for, then a simple vacuuming or dusting once you bring the furniture home should suffice. But if you found old, grungy, upholstered furniture on the side of the road, here’s what to do before bringing it inside your home (or shortly after):

What’s the best type of used furniture to buy?

What should you [probably] avoid buying used?

How can you make the secondhand furniture work in your house?

Need inspiration? Searching for “painted furniture” on Pinterest will yield boatloads of inspiration. I’m constantly amazed at how ugly old dressers and desks can be utterly transformed with a fun coat of paint! For tutorials on painting old furniture, Kate at Centsational Girl is my go-to blogger. She’s got a slew of great info and tutorials on her blog. One of my favorite examples is this $40 office credenza that she transformed with a few coats of paint and new hardware.

In the end, furnishing your home with a mix of vintage and thrift furnishings may take a bit longer and require a bit more elbow grease, but in the end, I think it’s absolutely worth it! Not only is older furniture often more sturdy and durable, but it will also save you a ton of money and provide you with memories that last a lifetime.

thewriteDuffy

April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books. She has a diploma in journalism and a post-graduate diploma in book and magazine publishing.