Sometimes it is seasonal decorating or we feel the need to refresh the guest bathroom. Maybe that rehab furniture idea we saw on HGTV was just too much to pass up. Whatever the reason, our home décor rotates with our moods, lifestyle changes or simply momentary inspiration. Replacing the living room couch every month, however, is neither wise nor affordable.
Social media has turned garage sales and flea markets into easily accessible shopping. That gem you had to hunt for at the back of a warehouse is now in picture format on your phone. All you have to do is click a button. Of course some hunting is still necessary, but the journey to your perfect ottoman has gotten easier and faster.
Plus, you can feel good that you’re not adding to the city’s landfills. “The less that you buy new, the less that actually has to be produced. It reduces oil and plastic, which is beneficial,” says Kraig Bantle, owner of Garage Brothers.
Items to Avoid
Of course not everything is just as good the second time around. There are a few items to avoid when buying used.
Safety equipment: Some safety products, like car seats and helmets, could have been involved in previous accidents, affecting the integrity of the product. If it’s going to protect you while you are potentially flying through the air, buy new. (Car tires also fall into this category.)
Antique children’s items: We are talking possible lead paint and drop cribs. Just because it was good enough for your parents does not mean it follows today’s safety standards. Do your research before buying.
Mattresses: A new mattress does not come cheap, but it does come without bedbugs and other unknown hazards. Wait for a sale if you are changing up your guest room.
Items to Covet
Patience is a virtue when it comes to buying used. Regularly checking sites can lead to charming collectibles, brand-name bargains, and well-made furniture that can be rehabbed with a can of paint.
Furniture: Think tables, wall décor and armoires. A rocking chair that retails for $200 may only cost you $30 if someone is moving or needs some extra space. Furniture is a particularly great buy if you are crafty and able to fix it up to match your room.
Brand Names: “If buying re-purposed, look for quality, name brand items that can be purchased at significant savings,” says Debbie Cain, owner of Inspirations Home Décor & More, a boutique offering new and repurposed items. One Raleighite purchased a gently used Crate & Barrel daybed that retails for almost $1,400 for the bargain price of $40.
Entertainment: Books, musical instruments and sporting equipment are all great secondhand. Whether you want antique skis to hang on your wall or an aged piano for your parlor, options are endless.
Check out these sites for bargains
A better alternative to Craigslist, this site allows you to search by area and offer a bid for the items you like. Since it’s local, it also allows you to look for things you can easily pick up, like dressers and end tables, without the shipping hassle of eBay.
For that homemade touch or something unique, Etsy sellers often personalize items. Think monogramming and custom pieces.
Pronounced “curb,” this site allows you to enter your address and search everything nearby. Contact the seller if you like his 1970s vintage Burger King cup or old-school ice cream maker.
If your taste is a little more refined, check out LushPad’s Facebook page. Its main site is now devoted to helping buyers discover new and emerging designer furniture, but its Facebook page is a free classified site where you can buy and sell used modern and mid-century designs.