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What to look for when buying old or second-hand furniture.

What to look for when buying old or second-hand furniture.
What to look for when buying old or
second-hand furniture.

For most people, myself being one, your home is an extension of yourself. Watching a space take shape is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. The furniture we use to decorate our space is often a way to express our personality and culture. Furniture is a way to make a space flow and move, while making your home more comfortable and seem inviting. Furniture is also one of the heavier costs when it comes to a remodel or just plain redecorating. That being the case it is not always affordable or convenient to buy brand new furniture when we want to. This is why many people, this one included, look to flea markets and second hand shops to find older furniture and DIY ideas to give things new life. Buying second hand furniture can be difficult, especially if you do not know what you are looking for when you make your purchase. Not paying attention to little details can be a costly mistake when buying older, used pieces. Here are a few tips to think about when you go shopping.

Know what you are looking at.

Before you buy any furniture, new or old, make sure you know what it is made of. Ask the questions, get up close and personal with it. Especially wood. Wood furniture is usually comprised of three different types: solid wood, veneers, and covered particle or cork board. Solid wood is usually the sturdiest of the three, also the most expensive. It is easy to get surface scratches and pesky water marks, but can be resurfaced and refinished if needed. Veneers are a cheaper option than solid wood because it is made from a middle of cheaper wood covered by layers of a more solid wood. Particle board is the cheapest option. While the finish and paint may look nice when it is brand new this wood is the type to swell and crumble with time, which makes it harder to repurpose it.

Be on the lookout for unwanted guests.

Hotels, bed and breakfasts, or even remodeling office buildings are a great place to find good furniture for reasonable prices. Fabric pieces like couches and beds can be a steal if you get them from the right place. Before jumping for joy and bouncing of the springs, make sure to look for signs of infestation. Bed bug, termites, and other creepy crawlies would love nothing better than to make your home their new food source. Make sure you open up cushions to couches, look inside box springs, and check the seams and folds of beds and chairs to make sure they are not harboring eggs or even worse. Check the legs for wood damage which could be a sign of termites.

Know what you want before you jump in.

Furniture shopping can be a overwhelming process when buying new, you add a whole new level of requirements when shopping for older pieces. A lot of older furniture still have good bones but needs a little help to get back to its best self. Before you start looking, ask yourself, what do you want? Do you want something ready to go, already suited for your purpose? Or, do you want to take something and add your style and make it be whatever you made need? Next ask yourself, is the piece worth saving? Are you going to put so much time and effort, not to mention money into fixing something that may or may not stand up to what you have in mind? Most times you will find that a lot of items don’t meet your expectations, especially when you don’t want to put in the time or extra money to rebuild or reupholster the whole backside of a couch.

Are the bones still good?

From cabinets to couches, dressers to desks, armoires to bed frames, all furniture has parts and pieces that can break down with use and time. Always do a double check, pull on doors and drawers and make sure they function. Check the stench. Does the wood smell like rot? Does the fabric have a
deep down odor that no amount of Febreeze and scrubbing will get rid of? Bounce a bit, are the cushions still able to support, is the foam inside deteriorating? Are the springs bouncy? Always make
sure metal springs are free from rust and intact. Push and pull on it a bit. Do the joints give or make noise? Are the seams still tight and intact, or are there gaps? Check for splintering in the wood around
the joints and fabric areas.

Color and pattern matter!
Sure that amazing purple velveteen plush couch calls to you and you think it is something you must have, absolutely can’t live without. You love the strange and unusual color, that’s your style. Is it really though? Yes you may like the weird color, are you still going to like it say, 6 months down the line?
Although the fun colors and odd patterns may catch your eye right this minute, the chances that you are going to love it for a long period of time kind of dwindle over time and those bright colors and fun patterns become overstimulating fast. Check your colors to match your surroundings. Neutral colors
are easy to mix and match, whether you are trying to match what you already have or on the search for multiple pieces to redo your space. Chances are that purple sofa that caught your eye doesn’t have a purple chair to match, because let’s face it that would be like spotting a unicorn in the world of used
furniture. Look at your lifestyle. Do you have pets? Kids? A white or even a light colored sofa is going to show all the dirt that your minions bring in the house  along with them. You are also going to want something that doesn’t show or attract hair if pets are involved, unless you enjoy spending your days in
a repeat of vacuuming and scrubbing said dirt and hair. Definitely not on my list of top ten favorite pass times.

Older furniture can be very rewarding and bring new life to old space, whether you are looking to repurpose or just want that antique sofa to finish of the sitting room in your house. It is all about making the right choices and having a good eye.