9 Used Furniture Tips: Why Buy Used and How to Make It Look New

Furniture is what makes a house your home.

It’s the accessory that brings a space together.

You want that perfect sofa to relax on while watching a movie after a long day at work, the perfect desk for a place to study or work, and the dining room table for dinner or play. It brings a large family together for dinner on holidays and gives friends a place to sit down and visit.

Used furniture is one of the best ways to bring quality, character, and unique furniture into your home without the designer price tag. Used furniture is just recycling in the interior design world.

Even the retail giant IKEA started selling used pieces in their Sweden stores, so that their furniture can be used over and over instead of everyone having to buy new. This cuts down on manufacturing and saves the customers a lot of money.

Save Some Money

Let’s face it; at the end of the day, we all want to save some money. When you’re on a budget, that used sofa with the floral print, or those cabinets with the odd knobs are all of the sudden looking pretty appealing for your Louisville home.

Used furniture is a great way to save money. Buying the right used furniture at the right price can save you thousands of dollars throughout your home and we are here to help you do exactly that.

Find Quality

When your parents say, “They just don’t build things like they used to,” they are actually right.

They don’t build furniture the same way today than they did years ago. That’s why used furniture is often better quality than the stuff you find on the showroom floor.

This is especially true for accent tables, bookcases, display cabinets, solid wood tables and chairs. Today’s furniture is driven by low costs, mass market and cheap manufacturing.

The best way to find furniture with character and craftsmanship without spending thousands is to buy used furniture.

Be Unique

Everyone can get a dresser from IKEA or a side table from Target. But not everyone has the patience, willpower, and keen eye to find unique used furniture that really brings style into your home.

Big box furniture gets the job done, but used furniture opens up a whole new world of one-of-a-kind rare pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. Your neighbors will be constantly asking, “Where did you find that?”

You can smile knowing your hard work paid off and your custom, used furniture can’t be duplicated.

But How?

Used furniture might just be the best-kept secret in interior design, but how do you find the right pieces at the right price and make them your own?

That’s where we come in. We have provided 9 tips for buying used furniture to help you find the perfect piece and make used look brand new.

1. Prepare for the Haul

Most consignment stores or yard sales aren’t going to hold your item until you can go home and get your truck. Bring it with you the first time so you’re ready when you find the perfect used furniture piece. Even if you think you’re just going to browse, it’s always a good idea to have a truck ready to take care of your fantastic used find.

Plus, when you find that perfect item, it’s not worth taking the chance that someone else will take it while you run home to get the trailer. Come ready to stake your claim and take home the very best used furniture pieces.

2. Consider a New Purpose

One of the biggest trends in used furniture is to transform it for a new use. Looking for used furniture is like a treasure hunt, you never know what you’re going to find or where you might need it, so keep an open mind.

Just because you find a used beautiful dresser does not mean it has to stay a dresser, it might make a beautiful entry table, nightstand, entertainment center, or even a bathroom vanity. The trick is to have a little vision.

Look for a piece that is the right size rather than a piece with the right tag. Maybe the tag says “end table”, but if it looks perfect in your bedroom and is the right size, it could also be a nightstand.

You may have to look past the current color, condition, or wear to create something new and beautiful. Use your vision as inspiration and then refinish the used piece appropriately. If you find a beautiful piece of furniture that you intend to use in a bathroom, be sure to refinish it with a waterproof seal so you don’t ruin your “new” piece.

With the right vision and a little bit of homework, you can add shelves to a used desk, put doors on a table, or even put a sink in a dresser. Giving an old piece new purpose is what the treasure hunt is all about.

3. Learn to Work with Imperfections

Part of the beauty of used furniture is wear and tear it collects over the years. While this adds to the antique nature of the piece, sometimes it needs a little TLC to make it look more designer than dumpster.

There are several techniques you can use to work with imperfections. Do research before you go so you can better see the potential in what you find. You can always call our experienced staff to help you find the best solution to your scuffs and scrapes.

Scuffs and dings can be fixed with sandpaper and wood filler. This can easily be done in a couple of hours and then can be painted or stained to look like new instead of used.

Out of date surfaces like wood paneling, laminate, outdated color schemes or stenciled teddy bears from 1986 can easily be painted, stained, or even use wallpaper to give wood on used furniture a whole new look.

If you find a used piece with decades of paint on top, you might be surprised how beautiful it is when you scrape it down to the bare wood and simply add a beautiful stain or varnish to bring out the original gorgeous wood.

Metal pieces are fairly easy to polish or paint, be sure you ask what type of metal it is so you can get the correct products when you get it home.

Leather is another great surface that is easy to make look new again. Be sure it is genuine leather and not an imitation vinyl. Genuine leather can be conditioned, buffed, and shined to perfection.

Fabric is probably the most difficult makeover, because if you’re not an experienced upholsterer, you probably need some help to get it right. However, you can use a carpet cleaner to give the used piece a deep cleaning, and you can use a slipcover, throw pillows, or other accents to make it picture perfect.

As you consider the options for your new-found treasure, factor in the cost of upgrades before you pay full price.

4. Look at Structure

This is perhaps the most important part of buying used furniture. It’s all about looking past the lime green paint or the cat-shredded fabric and looking at the structure itself. Start by looking at the joints and corners first. Are the joints dovetailed or just nailed together.

Look for areas where most of the wear and tear happens. This might be the top, sides, or bottom feet. Look at the wood itself; is it solid wood or MDF? Are there any signs of water damage?

If the drawers are wonky or it doesn’t sit right, there could be a structural problem with the used furniture. Bring a tennis ball with you to see if shelves or cupboards are actually level. If the ball falls off, so will everything else.

Look inside and out from top to bottom to see if the used piece is quality construction. Make sure you’re buying the real deal and not a look-alike.

If the structure is sound and the material appears to be quality, then you have a solid investment. Even laminate furniture can be a great used furniture make-over, just be sure you know what you’re paying for so you don’t pay too much for a cheaper piece of furniture.

Don’t forget to ask us about some of the tips and tricks we use to find the best pieces!

Once you’re happy with the structure and the price, you can begin to envisioning what the used piece could look like in a luxurious material, or a beautiful print and let your imagination go wild.

5. Try It Out

Sit on it. It’s one thing if it’s pretty (or has the potential). It’s a whole other thing if you bring home a couch that feels like a concrete amphitheater. If you hate how it feels now, you’ll hate it even more later. Take time in the store to really try it out.

Open and shut the drawers, and not just once. Open and shut those suckers over and over and over, as if you were putting away your clothes to see how they hold up. Take out the drawers and look at the tracks.

Sit down and try to get comfortable. Do you want to get up? Does it suck you in with no escape or does it feel more like a metal folding chair?

Manhandle the used furniture piece a little bit and really try it out before you buy.

Of course, you could add pillows, foam, or filler, but before you settle for an uncomfortable piece of used furniture assuming you can add cushioning later, understand the costs involved.

Foam is actually pretty pricey, so if the foam is as hard as a rock, and crumbles under your fingertips, it’s time to add another line item to the upholstery budget. If you are considering filling and reupholstering anything, you better LOVE the structure and have a very large budget.

It is cheaper to buy a brand-new sofa than it is to completely gut and recreate a used piece. It might be worth it if it’s the style, frame, and structure you want, but understand what you’re getting into.

6. Have Confidence

Don’t be intimidated by used furniture, it is a great investment and can pay off for years and years if you take care of the used pieces correctly. Part of the joy of finding and buying used furniture is the nicks, scratches, dents, and dings that come with it. You can embrace the character and leave it as is, or you can refinish it to its former glory.

Either way, have confidence in your choices and your abilities.

If you find a piece of used furniture that needs a little work, 9 times out of 10, all that is required is a little sandpaper or maybe a fresh coat of paint. Most fixes are relatively easy. Maybe it needs a new set of hardware or replacement casters on the bottom. Chances are, in a couple of hours (or less); you can have a beautiful new-looking piece.

If you’re on a budget and your handyman skills are less than perfect, consider your network of close friends and family who might be willing to help you with the heavy lifting or power tools.

If necessary, Facetime your favorite handyman from the store and ask if the fix is easy. If you’re having trouble, send pictures to your closest DIY guru and get her advice on the potential underneath the glossy laminate you’re staring at.

Don’t be afraid of used furniture, as long as the structure is sound and it’s comfortable and works well, cosmetic fixes are often easier than you may think.

7. Be Careful and Be Safe When Refurbishing

If you plan to refurbish your used piece, learn as much about it as possible before you buy. Ask about the original owners, or the approximate age of the piece. Learning more about it can help you in the refurbishing process.

Once you get your piece home, the first step to any refurbishment is to give the entire used piece a quality cleaning. Usually, warm water and a little bit of dish soap will do the trick, but sometimes you may need steel wool, a pressure washer, or just old-fashioned elbow grease.

Critters, bugs, dust, hair or other pests can hitch a ride on your beautiful furniture, so even if you don’t plan to paint or stain, give it a good cleaning before bringing it into your house. Once the piece is clean, use a spray bottle of equal parts vinegar and water, and spray in drawers or on wooden furniture to eliminate mildew or odors.

Always wear a painter’s mask and work in a well-ventilated area when dusting, staining, or painting used furniture. Be sure to prepare a work area that will allow you to leave your piece for several days during the refurbishing process. You don’t want to be rushed into moving the used furniture before it’s completely dry and cured.

8. Factoring Cost

Don’t get swept up in that $60 price tag, without considering the very real expense of getting a piece of used furniture in primo condition. While paint, stain, and polish are relatively inexpensive fixes, upholstery can bring up a whole new price tag to this used furniture.

If the piece is comfortable with good quality cushion, you still have to purchase yards of fabric, which can be anywhere from $10 to over $100 per yard depending on the type of fabric you love. The next question: how much fabric do you need?

Sofa – 17-20 Yards
Dining Chair – 1 yard per chair
Armchair – 7-10 yards
Bench or Ottoman – 2-4 yards

Even more than the fabric cost is the labor cost of upholstery. You may be able to upholster the piece of used furniture yourself, but practice on a piece of furniture you don’t care about before you tear apart a vintage chaise lounge. If you aren’t experienced in upholstering, having a professional do it for you can add hundreds of dollars to the price tag. If the used piece needs additional foam, cushioning, or filler, the price only increases from there.

9. Always Look For a Sticker

Flip the piece upside down, stand on your head if you have to, but find a sticker. A sticker can tell you a lot about the piece. You can find out how old it is, where it was originally purchased or who was the original designer/builder. If you see the name “Stickely” or “Craftsman” on a piece of used furniture, you want to snatch it up quick.

If you see something with “Larkin Soap Co.” or “Cadillac Cabinet Company,” these are more general companies from the 20th century that probably aren’t particularly valuable, but they are a nice piece of history. Other pieces might be completely non-descript, cheaper mass-produced pieces that make a great candidate for refinishing.

If the piece is old enough, it might not have a tag at all; it might just be a signature on the bottom or in one of the drawers. A tag might even tell you the original resale value, which can help you to see if you’re really getting a big deal.

Even if you find a non-descript tag, or worse one that says “Wal-Mart” or “IKEA” that doesn’t necessarily mean you should walk away. Sometimes you can find the perfect piece and you might love it even though it’s clearly from a big-box store. Use this information to your advantage and don’t overpay for a piece that was originally produced for Wal-Mart. Get a screamin’ deal and enjoy your “new” furniture.

The CANDYJACKS Experience

CANDYJACKS only sells the best quality used furniture in Louisville because we give each piece a thorough inspection process before it is available on the sales floor. For each piece of furniture that is brought in, our team of experts give it a top to bottom evaluation to be sure it meets our standards.

All furniture items are thoroughly cleaned with industry-standard products.

  • Knobs, handles, bolts, rails, and other hardware are inspected to ensure they are intact and safe to use.
  • Upholstered pieces are brushed, vacuumed, and spot-cleaned, if necessary.
  • Any small holes, loose threads, or torn seams are repaired on site.
  • Scratches on plastic, vinyl or leather are touched up.
  • Wood pieces are treated with filler for any deep scratches.
  • Furniture is deep cleaned and polished to restore its natural glow.

We care about our customers first and we want you to find the right furniture at the right price. We work with you to find out what you are looking for, what room it might go in, and what purpose it will serve.

From there, we can show you a wide variety of options, including some things you may not have considered. It is up to you to decide what is right for your space and your budget, but we are here to help along the way.

Each of our pieces has unique characteristics and qualities that you won’t find anywhere else. Stop in our Louisville stores today and see what treasures your hunt unfolds!

By | 2017-11-15T16:08:04+00:00 September 12th, 2017|

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