We have purchased very little new furniture as a couple, Kris and I. The fact that he is also a fan of nifty, pre-loved furniture is one of the things that attracted me to him. We really do have a lot of neat furniture in our house, of many vintages. Our couch (a lovely dark green leather one) came from his grandparent’s estate, his turntable stand is a solid teak super-find from a local charity shop, our wood dining room table and chairs were a miraculous buy from Kijiji. My point is not that I’m some sort of weird furniture hoarder (well maybe I am – but that’s another story), it’s that you don’t need brand new furniture to be happy, or to function, or even to look good.
If I buy something, I want to be happy to look at it forever. No regrets. I don’t care if it is brand new, from the 70’s or from the ‘1900’s (we have an amazing heirloom piano that belonged to my great, great grandmother in our dining room). That’s why, when I start a relationship with a piece of furniture, I always think about the end of that relationship too. What is going to happen to this down the line? How easily is it going to be damaged and rendered useless? I guess that explains my penchant for solid wood -- you can always sand it, re-stain it, glue it, nail it, FIX it.
Here are my top tips for buying pre-loved furniture.
1) Borrow what you’ll need for only a short amount of time. It leaves more money to invest in the stuff you’ll use for a long time, and keeps you from buying crappy new furniture that is destined to become garbage. A couple of examples of things we have borrowed include a toddler bed and extra tables and chairs for events.
2) Try classified websites. Kijiji.ca is the first place I check if I’m looking for something. It’s especially good for finding furniture in more current styles at a decent price. All of our son Holden’s furniture is second-hand (and you would never guess!).
3) Go to antique stores and second hand shops. I have found amazing deals, especially at second hand stores. Our small kitchen table is one of my favorites, it’s a solid wood table in a dark finish that I found at a local auction house. It is sturdy, not heavy, and was a great price.
4) Make it new again. Keep in mind that you can renew many older solid wood or other good quality pieces. The dining set we bought had a very pastel, 1990’s-vintage fabric on the seats. Ew. I knew they could be easily reupholstered with fabric, a screwdriver and a staple gun, so I went for it.
I wish I could say I had no regrets about the furniture I’ve bought or been given. There are a few pieces I’d love to get rid of, and eventually I will. But you can bet I’ll being doing my best to find them a perfect home – hopefully out of the dump.