We’ve really enjoyed walking you through Mary and my methods in shopping for secondhand furniture. We’re taking this week off because Mary is traveling and I had a very busy Fourth of July weekend complete with two birthdays, a holiday, getting to have dinner with Mary (!!), and two trips to the lake. We don’t want you to miss out on any posts in our series though so check everything out and stay tuned for next Tuesday’s post.
In May, we previewed our series by explaining the reasons we buy secondhand. Mary talked about the thrill of a great find, the quality of older furniture, and her desire to keep discarded pieces out of landfills and I shared my love of the stories behind objects that have past lives with other owners and my desire to buy furniture that suits my style and needs without being limited to the current Ashley Furniture line.
On 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 time and money to put toward refinishing. That means before we dive in and make a purchase we have to consider if we can live with it or find the space to store it before it’s reached it’s full potential. Sometimes, like with my console table, this really works out.
On June 8, Mary shared her knowledge about recognizing quality furniture. She explained to us how to recognize dovetailed drawers — and let us know why we should prefer them. She reminded us to check out the sturdiness of a piece of furniture and to be realistic about what kind of function we want it to serve. She identified major problems in the finish — like cracked veneer — that may deter us from wanting to commit to a purchase. She helped us find identifiers on secondhand furniture that will make our research easier.
On June 14, I talked about making secondhand purchases for a shared space whether it be a home shared with a partner or with a roommate. I recommended consulting your partner, being understanding when they don’t fall in love with something the way you have, trusting your instincts about your style when you have to, to give in and let your partner have something they love even if you’re not quite sold.
On June 21, Mary explained to us the benefits of research before you commit to a new purchase. She offered tips for researching in the moment and tips for researching later. She also encouraged us to get smart about the kinds of furniture, antiques, or other items that we may come across and be interested in. She also gave us what is perhaps the best advice we could receive about choosing secondhand furniture:
If you like it and you don’t care about its history or worth, then by all means buy the damn thing. If it’s got value to you, for it to enter your home, then kuddos and happy thrifting!
On June 28, Mary walked us through the process of considering refinishing as an option. She encouraged us to consider the condition of the current finish and use our imaginations, and she clued us in to some of the realities of professional refinishing. She also gave us some great hope for how beautiful a project can turn out when she shared photos of her Lane end tables, before and after.
Next week, we’ll be back and I’ll share advice and options for “returning” a piece back to the secondhand market. Make sure to come back every Tuesday for new advice on choosing secondhand furniture!