Way back in the beginning of July (Does July feel like way back in everyone else’s summer too?), we listed a handy summary of the first seven posts in our Choosing Secondhand Furniture series. Now, I’m back to summarize the final seven posts.

On July 12, I discussed ways to get around the non-existent return policy with secondhand furniture and try to make the best of your purchases that don’t work out by reselling them or turning them in to something that will work for you. I also shared my inspiration for the plans I have to DIY repurpose our harvest table that just didn’t work as a table for us.

On July 19, Mary shared her tips for making the in-the-moment decision to buy something you find secondhand. She reminded you to consider what you’d like to pay/think you should pay for a find, the lines, the size, and the fact that you’ll always be able to find another piece you love even if you decide to walk away from a good find.

Also, try and view your house as an ongoing collection of pieces you love. I mean, your probably always going to outgrow things and your taste will change, but the less you view your house as something that you have to fill with loads of furniture right now, the more that those pieces you place in it will mean to you and those you share your house with.

On July 26, we both shared our other considerations when buying secondhand. This was a laundry list of awesome suggestions for keeping yourself organized so you remember what you want and what colors and textures you’re already working with. It also became a catchall for all of our advice that didn’t fit into a post.

While we were on the subject of other considerations, it occurred to us that maybe pests and how to avoid them needed a little bit more attention. So, on August 2, I offered my advice for avoiding, identifying, and treating pest infestation — with some special attention to bed bugs and why they are gross and terrible and you should never want to risk letting your space get infested with them.

(Picture omitted because all of the pictures in the post were of gross bugs.)

Finally, on August 9 and August 16, we shared our advice for where to shop for secondhand furniture including the hard to sift through places like estate sales, auctions, and garage sales for hardcore secondhand shoppers and the standard places like brick and mortar stores and the online staples.

We hope you’ve had as much fun creating a grand strategy for choosing secondhand furniture as we have. Of course, we know there are things we’ve left out so we’ll ask you for your best advice here, too. What do you consider when choosing secondhand furniture?

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I have a friend outfitting her first home with her husband and she told me recently that she’s came home with something she thought would fit their style and had to return it so often that she’s just used to that part of the home decor shopping process.  Obviously, with secondhand purchases, the return process is not nearly as easy as driving to a store, so it’s important you know your style when you enter the store so you can easily decide if something will work in your house as is, or with some adjustments, before you make the investment.

1.) Consultation is key

Especially when buying for a living space you share, an emailed picture of a potential purchase — or dragging a person along for the ride — can be a lifesaver. I’m lucky because Kyle and I have nearly identical tastes. There have been times where we’ve gotten it wrong but in general I know when I love something that he’ll love it and vice versa.

When we bought this industrial bench for our bedroom, I spotted it from across the store and thought “We’re going to want that” but didn’t say anything — I’ve learned it’s bad strategy to point out something across the room that I like because it means I miss all of the booths between here and there. When we got to the booth at our own speed, Kyle stopped in front of it and, sure enough, it was destined to be ours.

2.) Don’t get too attached

In February, Kyle and I bought a harvest table because we found one that was at a great price and we had been thinking about getting a harvest table. We got it home to decide that it maybe wasn’t the direction we were heading in the kitchen, wouldn’t commit to it enough to buy chairs for it during the last four months, and ultimately replaced it with an entirely different style of table this spring.

I think it’s important to recognize that something that’s working for you just may not work for someone else. I thought that if we got it some chairs, we would start to really like the harvest table, but Kyle just wasn’t ready to make that commitment. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there would be some benefits to getting a table that was in a little better condition and easier to clean. Now that we’ve found the right table for our kitchen, I’m so glad that I didn’t put my foot down and commit to the old table.

3.) Take a leap

If either of us need to make a quick decision we can do it within an acceptable margin of error. We’re also lucky because our style is very, ahem, eclectic so we can make a lot of different styles or periods of furniture come together into one great space. A few weeks ago, we picked up a Moviegraph vintage projector at an antique store. Kyle was shopping for new furniture with our friend at the store next door  and I dragged him over to look at this find. He somehow got distracted on the walk so I bought it without consultation.

Good news, Kyle loves it as much or more than I do. And, surprise, it works!

4.) Give in a Little

If sharing tastes does not succeed, compromise a little. Kyle didn’t exactly understand my tea pot collection but as it started to fill up the shelving above our kitchen cabinets, he saw the utility. Kyle’s style is probably more fun than mine so occasionally I find myself bidding on some letter blocks at an auction or scoring a sweet magnetic message board at an estate sale.

It turns out compromise is often a win-win.

For the last few weeks, Mary and I have been sharing our advice for choosing secondhand furniture. We’ve both written about why we prefer to buy secondhand: here and here.  And I shared some advice for keeping your excitement for a potential piece in check in my post Reality vs. Vision. Last week, Mary passed along everything she knows about Recognizing Quality while thrifting furniture.

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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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