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Thrifting Furniture: How To Look

You can find amazing furniture at a literal fraction of the cost with just a little bit of thrifting know-how. Of course you don’t want to pick up some mattresses at your local secondhand shop, but if a piece of furniture has good bones then you can easily redo and upcycle it. And sometimes the older things have more character and personality than any of the modern, brand new buys found in stores. We’ve gathered a quick go-to list for what to look for, in terms of furniture, when you’re out and about in all those thrifty shops.

Problem areas.

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Once you’ve found a piece you love, check for major issues. Is it a solid piece of wood or just a blend of man made materials? For example, I snagged a solid wood side table the other day. It was an absolute mess but worth the $10 for such a nice piece of wood that could easily be fixed up. Are there any big nicks, scratches or other non-fixable issues? Really take a good look at every corner and turn it over and look underneath and inside!

Check its bones.

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I use this phrase a lot when talking about chairs. If the chair has good bones (a sturdy frame and foundation) then all you need is a bit of fabric to update the look and feel. Pay attention to details on wood pieces, that’s where the style will come in and that’s what will stay around for years to come.

Be creative.

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If you see a piece you like but it doesn’t look as “fresh” as you’d want it to be, envision it with a new coat a paint, cleaned up and styled in your home. Think about what you can do to enhance what it already is. There are so many ways to upcycle a table, chair or even a stool that it’s easily worth the extra work putting into a thrifty find.

 Look for quality.

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Find good quality pieces. Marbles, solid brass, complete wood – keep your eyes peeled for pieces that are worth something more than plastic composites or furniture that was cheaply made to begin with. A while ago I found a fun side table that was put together by the previous owner, but that top of the table is a piece of solid marble marked “Made it Italy,” which was worth the $20 I bought for it. We’ve restyled the leg of the table and it’s a now it’s a great new piece for the house!

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Posted in How To, Tips, and Advice on June 11, 2013

About the author

Grace Lynne Fleming
From the outskirts of Nashville, I couldn't imagine calling anywhere else home. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.A. in Communication, I'm a lover of words.

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