Guest Author - Donna Coogan
Furniture is a key ingredient to any room. However, buying all new pieces can exhaust anyoneís budget. Fortunately, decorating your home with used furniture is a cost-effective way to transform your home just as beautifully as buying new.
There are multiple resources where you can find the perfect vintage piece for your home. This is especially true when it comes to hard goods like chairs, desks, dressers, china cabinets, tables, etc.
But, before you go shopping, keep in mind that you want to look for quality furniture. Look for pieces with dovetail drawers, sturdy legs and without major damage. Donít worry about little dings and dents. Those things are rarely noticeable and even if they are, they only add character to the piece. You may even find that you prefer that look to newly polished finishes because it creates a more lived-in look and feel to your interiors.
I often paint my furniture finds. As long as a piece meets the above structural requirements, I donít worry if the surface has water stains or is faded, scratched or the wrong color. A few coats of paint and new knobs and I have a great looking addition to my home for very little cost. Sanding the piece even more can enhance the dings and create a distressed look that complements many decorating styles.
But you donít have to paint your furniture if thatís not your style. To hide surfaces with water rings or scratches, all you need to do is strategically place other items over them. Consider a lamp, a tray that displays favorite items, a few coffee table books or create a vignette of interesting objects. A last resort for me is to strip and stain used furniture, but itís definitely an affordable option.
So where do you find good used pieces? I have bought many vintage items at thrift shops, yard sales and antique shops. Good Will and the Salvation Army are also great choices.
Itís possible to find free furniture, too. Drive around your neighborhood the day before trash pickup and if youíre lucky, you might find a great piece left on the curb. If it has possibilities, ask the owner if you can take it instead.
Online sources are great opportunities to find furniture, too. Freecycle.org is another option for free furniture. You have to check often and act quickly because listings donít stay active long.
Craigslist offers a variety of furniture, sometimes free sometimes not. Like Freecycle, you need to check regularly to get a deal, especially if you are looking for something specific.
Shopping eBay can be worthwhile if you can get local pickup or free shipping. There was a time when I traveled across several states to buy furniture pieces that I won on eBay. Gas prices today have made that a less doable option.
I never buy used mattresses and Iím also careful with upholstered furniture. If the fabric is badly stained or has strong pet or cigarette odors I pass it up. However, upholstery in good condition can be cleaned and slipcovered. A really great piece might be worth having professionally reupholstered, but that kind of service could make the furniture out of your price range, unless you can do it yourself.
Thatís just a few ideas to help you on your next furniture shopping trip. Donít forget to consider forgotten pieces stashed in your basement or garage. Put the word out to friends and family who may be moving or downsizing that you are in the market for used pieces. As they say, one personís trash is another personís treasure.