When shopping secondhand, it’s easy to get really excited about the potential behind a piece of furniture. You may have a mental checklist of the things you’re looking for and find something that is in the category but it needs some work. Or, you may find a piece that you didn’t expect to want but just love. Kyle and I have had some good luck with these exciting finds, but we’ve learned some lessons along the way, too.

The most important reality check is that it will take time to schedule in refinishing a piece — even if you love it. So, make sure you can live with it. We got a great deal on a side table a few months ago and it only needed some sanding. It’s been months and months and we still haven’t sanded it. It just sets next to my side of the bed generally bringing down the whole room. I’m sure I’ll love it some day, but for now, I can’t even bring myself to clean it off to photograph it for this post. Why should I? It’s not going to look any better until I invest a long afternoon into its recovery.

On the other hand, we found a console table in March when we were shopping in Kansas City and I love it! I know it will look better when we refinish it and bring the quality of the wood back to it’s original or paint it and spruce up the fabric over the speakers, but I’m so happy living with it in its weathered condition in my living room.

So, when you’re shopping, make sure to keep in mind that even if you see a real diamond, odds are you’re going to be living with it in it’s rough condition for at least a little while. Make sure you can suffer through it.

If you can’t handle it in your living space “in the rough,” make sure you have a place to store it but be realistic about what that will mean. We have an upstairs bedroom that contains a queen bed, FOUR arm chairs, and a futon.

If two people want to sleep in the bed, one needs to commit to climbing over the other person or climbing over the futon because it just doesn’t all fit in there. But, we’ve found the four chairs often mean that when we show our guests their bed for the night, the bedroom turns into an impromptu den.


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One response to “Choosing Secondhand Furniture: Reality versus Vision”

  1. […] June 1, I kicked off our Choosing Secondhand Furniture series with a reality check, reminding us all to remember that no matter the promise a piece has we will always be limited by tim…. That means before we dive in and make a purchase we have to consider if we can live with it or […]

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So Eclectic is a blog dedicated to great ideas for home design. Austin, Texas-based writer Mary Marcum and Savannah, Missouri-based writer Jess Rezac feature affordable decor, decorating solutions, and inspiration. At So Eclectic, we experiment with design together. So Eclectic posts new content every weekday.

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