5 Really Good Reasons You Should Buy Used Furniture Instead of New

Nesting on 11.01.11
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This couch was purchased at a tag sale for $40, and then painted and re-upholstered. For now it's being used in my kids' playroom until I find a better spot for it. Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez/Chateau & Bungalow

Buying new furniture is a little bit like buying a new car, the moment you drive it off the lot, it depreciates in value. Not only that, but it's amazing how much of a good deal you can get on a quality piece when you skip the dealership and don't buy brand new. My favorite pieces of furniture in my house are all items that I found at tag sales or thrift shops or that were handed down from family members. My couch is the same one that is in the background of my husband's childhood pictures. I've just had it recovered and new cushions made to make it contemporary. In fact, I can name only a few pieces of furniture in our home that are items I purchased new from a retailer. I always look for used before I buy new and here's why.

white pedestal table
Oak pedestal table purchased for $80. Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez/Chateau & Bungalow

1. Cost: As I already mentioned, used furniture pieces are almost always less expensive (unless they are a sought after antique). For instance, I purchased a solid oak pedestal dining table with a leaf in it for $80 from my local thrift store.  A similar size and style table at Pottery Barn sells for $1,399. I wanted mine to be white so I had a little added investment on paint, but for under $125 and a little bit of my time, I saved over 90 percent.

hickory chair
Hickory Chair purchased for $38 for my daughter's room to be re-upholstered with pink fabric in background. Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez/Chateau & Bungalow

2. Customization: If you've ever loved a look but thought it was out of your price range, chances are it's because you only considered buying it new. If you can find a piece of furniture such as a chair or couch that you like the shape of, you can re-upholster it in the same or similar fabric that you see on the designer pieces that cost thousands of dollars. You can even have new cushions made to give it a more updated shape and look. Upholstery isn't exactly cheap, and your choice of fabric will make a huge difference in the cost, but you get a lot more bang for your buck when you start with a solid frame and turn it into what you want it to be. I recently purchased a Hickory Chair for $38 at my local thrift store which would normally have cost several hundred if not a thousand dollars. I spent about $100 on fabric to have it recovered in, and it will cost me a few hundred dollars to have a slipcover made although I'm even thinking at attempting it myself. My only regret is that the store had two of them and I only bought one.

3. Quality: At the risk of sounding like an old lady, they just don't make furniture like they used to. Well, that's not totally true, but if you want it made the way it was in our parents' and grandparents' generations, you're going to pay the price for a new piece. Many of the pieces you'll find at major retailers have wood veneers and contain particle board, and they just don't stand up to the wear and tear of daily life through the decades.

wingback chair
This wingback chair was purchased my freshman year in college for $35 and I finally recovered it five years ago when we purchased our home. Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez/Chateau & Bungalow

4. Style: I love a sleek and modern style just as much as the next person, but you can still get that look with used pieces. Mid-century modern vintage furniture anyone? And it's certainly easy to achieve a traditional look with used furniture pieces. To make a house a home, it's nice to have pieces of furniture that have stories to go with them. A table that you picked up in a shop while winding your way through Vermont or an old chair that your grandmother used to knit in add character to a home, and create a much more appealing look than opening a catalog to a picture you like and ordering one of everything.

5. Environmentalism: "One person's trash is another person's treasure" can be a complete understatement when it comes to furniture. When someone no longer has a use for a completely good piece of furniture, there is no reason that it should wind up in a landfill. The more we can extend the use of objects, the more our planet will benefit. A fresh coat of paint or some new fabric can make a world of difference. Furniture should not be considered "disposable" unless it is truly in disrepair.

I am not saying that I have no new furniture in my house. Sometimes I just can't find the look I want in my area at thrift stores or on Craigslist. But don't be afraid to take a look, stop on the side of the road when you see that free item, hit that tag sale, or walk into that local furniture consignment, salvage or thrift store. You may just find one of your favorite items. There are even companies like Chairloom that are now finding the furniture pieces for you and helping create masterpieces with new fabrics. A little vision goes a long way. Happy hunting!

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