I Can’t Believe It’s Not New! Tips for Furniture Shopping in Thrift Stores

Tips for thrifting furniture from

I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty well known in my parts for being the girl who essentially refuses to pay retail for furniture. What started out of necessity has evolved into an outright passion. I love seeking out, finding and making fabulous furniture pieces my own. Most everything in my home came from a consignment shop, Craigslist, a flea market or garage sale. I can literally only think of one piece of furniture in my home (my desk, to be specific) that came all shiny and new with original price tags. Today I thought I’d share a few tips and ideas for thrifting furniture! Also, be sure to check out my garage sale tips and 10 DIY ideas for furniture makeovers!

  • Where to Shop 1 of 8
    Where to Shop

    My favorite places to find furniture are thrift stores like Goodwill, local shops that specialize in used furniture, Craigslist and garage sales. Flea markets and antique/consignment shops are also awesome but tend to be a bit more expensive. No matter where you shop, being able to carefully inspect and look over each piece is key!

    Find a Goodwill in your area
  • What to Look For 2 of 8
    What to Look For

    When looking over the object of your desire, you want to look at the construction and overall condition. Solid wood, dovetail drawers, sturdy construction and pretty lines are all things you want. Some minor dings, scuffs, or cracks are just fine depending on the look you're looking for and what level of work you want to put into your makeover. For most pieces, even a heavily scratched item will look amazing once lightly sanded and painted in a great color with a few light, even coats of spray paint. If you're looking for a specific style or maker of furniture, you can check out eBay to get a feel for the going rates. Of course a piece that needs a little love will always cost you less than something that has already been redone.

    Photo from Young House Love
  • What to Avoid 3 of 8
    What to Avoid

    If a piece is missing legs, has moderate to extensive damage, shows signs of water damage, is wobbly or features cheap veneer construction, just say no! Chances are it will cost you too much to make it what you want it to be so move on and keep looking. Besides, half the fun is the hunt! One thing to note is that a solid wood veneer can still be a high quality piece of furniture, but the thinner veneers will be tough to refinish and/or will bubble if you try to paint over the original finish.

    Photo from Style By Emily Henderson

  • Look for Easy Makeover Projects 4 of 8
    Look for Easy Makeover Projects

    Some of the easiest used items to make over are dining chairs! You can recover the seats by pulling them off, covering them in your favorite fabric and stapling on the backside. Leave the body of the chair the original color or give it a bright pop of color with a few coats of spray paint. You'll find dining chairs everywhere — and they really transform a room when you personalize them!

    Photo from Style By Emily Henderson
  • Consider Total Costs 5 of 8
    Consider Total Costs

    When shopping, keep in mind the overall costs. A piece may only cost you $50, but if it's a huge oversized sofa and it costs you $700 to have it professionally cleaned and reupholstered, your total expense goes way up. That's still a lot cheaper than most new sofas so it could still be a steal, but make sure you consider those expenses first.

    See these guidelines at Style by Emily Henderson for some general cost estimates for upholstering
  • Remember You Have to Bring it Home 6 of 8
    Remember You Have to Bring it Home

    It's great when you can enlist a friend or family member with a giant car to help haul your finds home, but if you're like me and you drive a car with no truck or SUV in the family, you're probably wondering how to handle this one. Sometimes you can negotiate delivery if you're dealing with a private seller or resale shop. If not, large home improvement stores usually offer pick-up truck rentals for as little as $19 an hour.

    Rent a truck from The Home Depot
  • Keep An Open Mind 7 of 8
    Keep An Open Mind

    Keep in mind that when you're hunting, you may not find exactly what you're looking for right off the bat. It may take several trips or browsing adventures on Craigslist to find something that speaks to you. That said, a little elbow grease, some paint, some fabric and a dash of TLC can transform any piece to make it just perfect for your space! When in doubt, just keep looking — it has taken me months sometimes to find a piece, but patience is a virtue.

    Photo from Young House Love
  • Know Your Budget 8 of 8
    Know Your Budget

    The price for pieces will vary wildly depending on where you live, the piece you're looking to acquire and the construction. Dining chairs can typically be scored for $10 - 30 each, which is a huge savings from new chairs which can run upwards of $100 each. Dresses or cabinets will often be in the $100 - 300 range, but occasionally you'll find a steal. Sofas are generally relatively inexpensive used, but for a vintage or mid-century piece you might spend as much as $500 - 700 for a rare gem. If you're not sure whether you're paying too much, remember you can always scope out Craigslist and eBay for going rates of similar items. And remember, you can always haggle! Never be afraid to make an offer — worst thing that happens is they say no!

    Photo from Young House Love

Top photo from Young House Love.

Read more from Cyd at The Sweetest Occasion.
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