Second-Hand Furniture: Interior Design On A Budget

Decorating a room with second-hand furniture is rewarding. A limited budget shouldn’t be a constraint. Once you realize it isn’t hard to shop for great deals on used furniture, whether you shop for furniture online at One Kings Lane.

Second Hand Furniture
Imperfections in second-hand furniture increase charm. This is a reproduction from Creative Coop.

There are two things interested buyers should know about the world of pre-owned vintage furniture and home furnishings. The first is where to look for top furniture brands. The second is knowing the value of used furniture. And just because second-hand furniture isn’t new, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. All it means is that it doesn’t have the same price as new furniture.

top brands in second-hand furniture

We know how overwhelming the used furniture world is, so we’re here to help. We’ll show you the ins and outs of buying used furniture and home décor items.

We’ll walk you through the process of how and where to shop for the top brands in second-hand furniture.

And we’ll also cover how to shop for furniture online.

Second Hand Furniture

Used furniture or vintage furniture is a designer budget-friendly way to furnish a home. Plus, searching for hidden gems, bargain finds, and top brands at discounted prices is fun. Arm yourself with information before you scour the shops and tag sales in your area.

Be honest with yourself about the amount of work you are willing to do to resurrect a second-hand piece of furniture. And, if you are not going to do it yourself, make sure you have a reasonable idea of the cost for upholstery work and wood repairs.

Inspect Used Furniture

Gallery-worthy finds like Panton chairs from Modernity are rare finds.View in gallery
Gallery-worthy finds like Panton chairs from Modernity are rare finds.

When you find the perfect piece, you’ll know that you must have it. Beyond being a skilled negotiator, you need to be smart. Is the piece worth the price or worth purchasing?

Regardless of where you find that one-of-a-kind piece before you make an offer, examine the item. Sit on the sofa or chair, open doors and drawers, and even lean on the piece if you can. Ask yourself if the parts work as they should? If something is broken or not operating, is it something you can fix or can be remedied?

If it’s damaged and will require money to repair, bring down the price to accommodate expenses. Look for tags or other markings that can help you determine if it is a real vintage find or a mass-produced item.

Antique Items

The raw weathered look, like on this cabinet from the Elk Group, is popular.View in gallery
The raw weathered look, like on this cabinet from the Elk Group, is popular.

Antique items offer great interior design features. Their prices are higher because they’re rare. Depending on the size of the item, vendors will handle the delivery. Antiques are all about style and having the right home decor.

Vintage Items

True vintage classics are worth the expense.View in gallery
True vintage classics are worth the expense.

With vintage furniture, the top brands can transform a room. If you need a focal piece for your house, then vintage items can help. With vintage items, when you find a spot in your home for an item, make sure it has plenty of lighting. You want to showcase its style, so the price isn’t always the most important thing.

Contemporary Furniture Warnings

Appearances can be deceiving and a brand name only goes so far. There are vast differences between second-hand sofas and whether they are worth updating. The inner construction, which you can’t see, is the determining factor.

It has been reported that furniture over ten years old warrants recovering. Unfortunately, in the last decade, sofa construction has become more about affordable cost than quality repair.

If the sofa is sturdy, turn it over and check the frame to make sure it’s hardwood and doesn’t have many knots.  Joints should be connected with dowels and glue, not staples. If you can’t see the frame anywhere, at least try to lift the sofa. If it feels heavy, then it’s a higher quality piece made of wood.

Feathers or good foam are costly, so reusing the interior of the cushion will save money. However, if the foam inside is hard or broken, or contains foam peanuts, you will have to buy new filler for the cushions.

Designer Furniture

Vintage shapes can be upholstered in unexpected fabrics.View in gallery
Vintage shapes can be upholstered in unexpected fabrics.

Unlike vintage rugs, quality used furniture doesn’t have wear and tear issues. Home décor vintage finds can be a treasure, depending on their style. If you want to make your house beautiful, then vintage pieces offer a solution. Some top brands might be more expensive than others, so do your research before purchasing a brand name.


Be sure to check cushion fill for firmness.View in gallery
Be sure to check cushion fill for firmness.

If you like to shop for unique home furnishings, then shopping for different furniture brand items would be worth your time. When you choose a great design for your interior space, remember, lighting is important.

As most designers will tell you when you have a unique piece you want to showcase, shine a light on it and watch the magic unfold. Furniture is art, so why not treat it as such?

Online Marketplace Tests

Be sure to smell upholstered pieces, even if you plan to recover them.View in gallery
Be sure to smell upholstered pieces, even if you plan to recover them.

Every home has a unique smell. When buying used furniture, you’re paying for the furniture item and not the odor of a seller’s home. Second hand furniture has already lived one life in another house.

When you want a specific piece, it should be given a fresh start in your home, and this means it should have a fresh smell. The general rule says that if it smells bad then it is bad.

Flea Markets

Even a wood cabinet can harbor smells. This is a fun find from Vintage Addiction.View in gallery
Even a wood cabinet can harbor smells. This is a fun find from Vintage Addiction.

A flea market is a reliable source of vintage furniture and brand items, but be careful before you buy anything. Used furniture and contemporary furniture come with risks when want to own furniture that is unique or old.

At a flea market, you’ll find a wide selection of vintage brands and antique furniture. It’s exciting when you discover a one-of-a-kind furniture item. It takes work and dedication, but when you find that special item, it’s a rewarding experience.

Buying Used Furniture Mistakes

Not every used furniture brand item is a good deal. You will encounter people who want to sell furniture for the wrong reasons. To avoid the common pitfalls of buying used furniture, there are a few rules you should follow when you search for that special piece.

It’s not a good idea to buy a second-hand mattress. In some states, it’s against the law. Also, watch out for online scams. With apps like Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor, you can meet the people who are selling the used furniture. It’s better to buy something in person than online. Depending on the size of the item, delivery is often included in the purchase price.

Home Furnishings

While a second-hand bedframe is fine, you never want to buy a used matress.View in gallery
While a second-hand bedframe is fine, you never want to buy a used matress.

Second-hand furniture with potential problems includes items assembled by the original owner. Every home contains furniture that was put together by hand. Signs to look out for include wobbly furniture. If the item is already assembled, ask the seller who put it together and when. This will influence the price.

Purchasing second-hand children’s furniture requires extra care. Often, older pieces do not adhere to safety regulations. For this reason, it’s not advisable to buy a pre owned baby crib. Because of all the safety rules governing infant and children’s furniture, manufacturers often have to recall pieces.


Reupholstering used furniture s is often the only thing required to turn an old sofa into a new treasure. Because upholstery wears easily, sturdy chairs can look tacky if the seats or cushions are damaged. If the furniture piece is made of quality wood and has “good bones,” a new upholstery job would be worth the time and money. Some vendors provide re-upholstery services, like One Kings in New York, for example.

What may begin as a bargain piece can turn into an expensive undertaking, so don’t be fooled by the price. When reupholstering with expensive fabric and new cushioning, the purchase price could climb. If you find something, figure out if it would be worth your time and effort. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t always mean it’s a bargain.

Solid Wood Vintage Pieces

Most upholstered pieces will need to be redone, either for quality or looks.View in gallery
Most upholstered pieces will need to be redone, either for quality or looks.

The bulk of second-hand furniture pieces that maintain value is made from solid wood. For example, furniture made with beech, teak, walnut, maple, mahogany, or oak will last a long time.

Pine is common among 2nd hand furniture, but it’s soft and fragile, and pinewood furniture has a short lifespan. Refinishing second-hand furniture isn’t worth it unless it’s not made of strong wood. If you’re dead set on buying a piece because you want to save money or you like the price, check the joints for quality.

Antique Furniture

Solid wood furniture like this credenza from Park Hill are the best pieces to buy second-hand.View in gallery
Solid wood furniture like this credenza from Park Hill are the best pieces to buy second-hand.

Everybody wants to get lucky and discover that one-of-a-kind item at a low price. However, it’s doubtful you’ll find the same opportunity at an antique store. The people who run antique shops are professionals who know their inventory better than you.

When you buy a home décor antique, after you take it home, make sure you give it the right lighting. What’s the point of owning antiques if you don’t showcase them to your guests?

Mid Century Modern Veneer

Is the piece you want made of laminate or MDF with veneer?  While solid wood is the best bet, in the long run, many beautiful pieces are made f these other materials. Check the integrity of the piece and make sure that any damage can be repaired. A loose veneer can be glued back into place if it doesn’t cover large areas of the furniture piece.

Fine Art Decor

Imperfections in second-hand furniture increase charm. This is a reproduction from Creative Coop.View in gallery
Vintage laminate pieces like this table can be a good buy and are in demand.

Second-hand furniture made from metal is often refurbished and is the most attractive in the used furniture world. Besides cleaning, removing rust, and adding a coat of paint to it, there’s not much else to do. If you want to use it outside, pick the right paint.

Contemporary Furniture

Second-hand furniture made from metal can be cleaned and left in its natural state.View in gallery
Second-hand furniture made from metal can be cleaned and left in its natural state.

Used vintage furniture and designer furniture go hand in hand. When shopping for both, know what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend. Also, know the history of each brand. Even with shopping on a site like Etsy, knowledge is key. You never know when you might stumble upon a one-of-a-kind item.

Home Decor

Metal components can be used for a table with the addition of a top. This is from Mercana.View in gallery
Metal components can be used for a table with the addition of a top. This is from Mercana.

For those who have a vision and think creatively, vintage furniture offers a treasure trove of used furniture. You can transform an old dresser into a console. Why not take a mechanical industrial piece and make it a credenza, or a buffet into a kitchen island?

When you’re crafty, you can see through cosmetic damage. Textiles, fine art, wallpaper, and other materials are used for camouflaging imperfections like heavy wear, watermarks, or scratches.

Think Outside Of The Box

Tub stools from VIP Garden & Home are a good example of repurpoisong.View in gallery
Tub stools from VIP Garden & Home are a good example of repurpoisong.

Shopping for vintage decor shouldn’t be limited to traditional methods. Do you know what dumpster diving is? For those in the know, it’s where you roll up your sleeves and dig through a trash dumpster. Many great vintage furniture decor items have been discovered this way.

Shopping doesn’t always have to happen at a store. You can go shopping on the street and be just as successful.

Vintage Furniture

You would be surprised how easy it is to find vintage furniture for your home. You might find a one-of-a-kind piece on the street where you live. It’s not uncommon for a neighbor to throw furniture away, and when they do, pay close attention to the item and see if it’s something that can be salvaged.

Apartment complexes and college neighborhoods at the end of a school year are gold mines and offer a wide array of pre-owned furniture items that young adults would rather throw away than keep for themselves.

Second-hand stores, tag sales, garage sales, estate sales– all are quality places where you’ll find used furniture at the right prices. In addition, now there are apps and online resale sites specific to your city or neighborhood.

If purchasing online, follow the same rules for examining furniture in person before buying it. Another fun way to buy second-hand furniture is at an auction. These require a little more preparation to become familiar with the pieces before the sale.

Hidden Gems

An old chicken coop becomes a decorative wall unit.View in gallery
An old chicken coop becomes a decorative wall unit.

If you’re alert and know where to look, you can get lucky and find a one-of-a-kind furniture item. An old chicken coop, like in the example above, and be used as a decorative wall unit. It’s doubtful you’ll find a one of a kind item within the online marketplace. However, when you shop in person, the odds are higher, which is one of the notable benefits of actual shopping.

Depending on the size of the item, delivery or shipping will be included in the price. You can negotiate that separately.


A tractor seat in bright red makes a whimsical stool.View in gallery
A tractor seat in bright red makes a whimsical stool.

While the hunt for treasures is fun, there are practical tips that can make shopping for second-hand furniture easier. First, remember you’re responsible for getting your purchases home, so you’ll need a vehicle large enough to move them. However, many stores do provide delivery.

Antique markets offer an incredible selection of vintage furniture. You can even shop for antique items in the online marketplace, but be careful. When buying items on Etsy, look at the vendor’s history and always double-check the prices. Sometimes, sellers will do anything they can to sell people their unwanted stuff.

Unique Finds

A vintage suitcase can be a fun, rustic shelf.View in gallery
A vintage suitcase can be a fun, rustic shelf.

This doesn’t only apply to thrift store clothing and art. The world of pre-own furniture is filled with hidden treasures. Shopping in person is almost like hunting for buried treasure. The search for antiques is half the fun.

With antiques, research the reputation of the shop before you visit it. You can find reviews online that will help you decide if a vendor is honest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Where Are The Best Places To Buy Used Furniture?

There is a huge market for second hand furniture, vintage furniture, and unique furniture. The best places to buy pre owned furniture are at the local level. Search the online marketplace for individual sellers. After that, try and find local vendors. For in person shopping, garage sales and outdoor markets provide surprising results. Also, Urban Outfitters does not carry used furniture.

What Are The Best Online Marketplace For Used Furniture?

If you want to buy furniture online, the best go to site is Facebook Marketplace. The platform is an online marketplace that has earned a great reputation over the years. It offers a huge selection at the local and national levels.

You can find local deals that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Etsy is an international online destination that offers a wide selection of used furniture, so there’s a strong chance you’ll find something.

Another option would be Craigslist. Many people use the site to sell their furniture at a huge discount. Also, the phone app OfferUp has amazing deals from individual sellers at the local and national levels.

Where Can I Find Cheap Consignment Furniture?

Again, start with Facebook Marketplace. Many people use the site daily and overall it seems to be the number one resource for discounted furniture brands. One Kings Lane in New York would be a good place to start. They have a wide array of home furnishings and vintage finds at the right price. Other shops include West Elm, depending on what you want to buy.

How Can I Sell My Own Furniture?

And for the third time, Facebook Marketplace is the go to option. However, if you have furniture items too old to sell, call Salvation Army and schedule a pickup. They offer a free service where they’ll send someone to your home to pick up your old furniture.

If you have a lot of old furniture that you want to sell, then open an account on Etsy. You can be your own boss and make your own rules. The site is a great way to sell furnishings and other stuff online.

Where Can I Buy Used Office Furniture?

This will come as no surprise, and we’ll say it again, Facebook Marketplace is the go to source and offers a wide selection of used office furniture brands. Other online platforms include Etsy, Kings Lane, and House Beautiful. Each platform offers curated collections.

You don’t have to live in New York if you want to go shopping for the best office furniture brands. The world of used furniture is available to you as long as you have a WiFi connection.

Second Hand Furniture Conclusion

Interior designers like used furniture brands, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Quality vintage furniture is like fine art. You never know what you might be sitting on at home regarding your own furniture. Before you sell furniture, do some research to make sure you’re not in possession of a valuable or rare furniture item.

Designer furniture is expensive, but if it’s pre-owned furniture, you’ll be amazed at how affordable it is. The great about buying used furniture is how easy it is to find pieces that match your personal style. One of the most notable benefits of pre-owned furniture is how each piece has a personal style.

In the world of vintage furniture, not everything needs to be expensive. When you find new furniture that fits with your home furnishings, before you purchase it, check the prices on different platforms.