How to Score Big on Top-of-the-Line Furniture for Your Home

How to Score Big on Top-of-the-Line Furniture for Your Home

June 14, 2018

I have bought and sold more crap on Craigslist than anyone else I know. I love Craigslist and I still use it frequently to this day. In the near-decade I have known about Craigslist, I have sold an estimated $500,000 worth of stuff online. New stuff, used stuff - anything I could find cheap enough to warrant a profit margin.

That’s the trick to it all - buy it cheap.  Like crazy cheap if you can find it and enjoy looking for it.  Enjoy great stuff but don’t pay retail price for it - buy dead people’s furniture at estate sales. Everybody wins! The realtor wins because they cleared the house quickly for sale, the original owner wins because someone now owns a piece of their legacy and their most prized possessions and we win because we’re smart enough to follow them!  

When I’m looking for furniture, I tend to look at Craigslist, Facebook Neighborhood ‘For Sale’ Groups, and on Estatesales.net.

 

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Craigslist, Facebook Buy/Sell Groups and Estate Sales

Estate Sales are often the best place to find screaming deals on high-end furniture.  

Traditionally, estate sales have been held to settle the estate of someone who has died. If the house needs to be sold, it first has to be cleared of all things held dear to the recently-departed. So they literally sell everything -- or nearly - as sometimes family members have been given pieces of furniture when the deceased’s Will is read. So most of the good stuff is left.  

For us to buy dirt cheap! To list a house, they first have to clear it out - all of it -- then stage it to maximize the money made on the home sale.  

It’s a winning formula!

It feels a little icky. But it isn’t really. Hey, death is a part of life. If it skeeves you out to think about buying dead people’s stuff -- then you’ll just have to get over it. And fast. Because it is without a doubt - the best way to score amazing deals on furniture, housewares, kitchen items, floor rugs, lamps and even clothes. The only thing I refuse to share is panties! (These wealthy elite have very nice lingerie, too! ).  

Lately I’ve been a little too plump to fit into these women’s slim size 6. (In progress.)   

Most very wealthy women are a size six. Trying on wealthy womens’ clothing motivates me to stay in shape. These women have, for the most part, maintained their health in admirable ways - because these ultra-wealthy women always take very good care of themselves. We should too.

We could never afford this stuff any other way!  But I plan to continue living ‘above my means’ until the day I die! It’s just too fun.  

I don’t know what these wealthy women’s freaking secrets to staying so slim but I’m determined to find out!! And have fun playing with all their clothing, hats and housewares that we buy along the way!  

It’s the most fun you can ever have - so it’s a great hobby to share!  

Dave loves playing dress-up with high end clothing too. Hell, who wouldn’t? It is not only the cheapest way to buy stuff, but it’s fun too!

Our hobby of shopping at Estate Sales has enabled us to live far beyond what our budget could ever afford.Back to quality furniture.  

If you’re lucky, you might be able to score matching pieces to fill up your rooms. Read all about it in my previous post, 10 Estate-Sale Shopping Secrets Revealed or How I Scored This $10K Dining Room Set for only $250.

Regardless of where you buy your used furniture, it is important to know what to look for so that you know if you are getting a good deal or not.  

I like some exotic hardwoods because of my career. Right after graduating college in 1985, I took a low-paying grunt job as a sales associate for Georgia-Pacific, that company that makes toilet paper and lumber. I was in the Building Products division, and we sold truckloads of materials to the lumberyards throughout the state of Colorado. It was extremely glamorous. Not really.

It was like a tacky version of what my father did for a living throughout his career. He was a stockbroker and sold stock to investors across the country. I sold truckloads of lumber, plywood and screws for a living. I rode on a forklift and took rides with the deliverymen as they delivered their loads. I liked it because it was so vastly different than anything I had ever been exposed to in Connecticut!

There was one great thing about that job - that I use to this very day -- it taught me how to look for top quality wood cabinets, including specialty woods like cherry and walnut. I have an affinity for walnut wood ;-)

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Back to the story.  

So my short stint in the sale of plywood and cabinetry was three long years - but I did learn about hardwoods and particularly hardwood plywood.  The very stuff they make high-end kitchen cabinetry and furniture from!  

In fact, Georgia-Pacific sold to cabinet makers, so as another bonus, I learned what to look for with both furniture and high-end kitchen cabinetry! My experience at G-P taught me to look for hardwoods and high end cabinets. I do like nice woods, but I’m wayy too cheap to pay retail for furniture. No way.  

In fact, I purchased all new (used) furniture for the house we moved into in 2017, furnishing the entire 3,300 square foot home for less than $4,000.

Knowing all this stuff about fine furniture and hardwoods comes in kinda handy, when you’re shopping on the cheap;-).

Read all about How I Scored High End Used Kitchen Cabinets for my Remodel for only $5k.

So my short stint in the sale of plywood and cabinetry was three long years - but I did learn about hardwoods and particularly hardwood plywood.  The very stuff they make high-end kitchen cabinetry and furniture from!  

In fact, Georgia-Pacific sold to cabinet makers, so as another bonus, I learned what to look for with both furniture and high-end kitchen cabinetry! My experience at G-P taught me to look for hardwoods and high end cabinets. I do like nice woods, but I’m wayy too cheap to pay retail for furniture. No way.  

In fact, I purchased all new (used) furniture for the house we moved into in 2017, furnishing the entire 3,300 square foot home for less than $4,000.

Knowing all this stuff about fine furniture and hardwoods comes in kinda handy, when you’re shopping on the cheap;-).

Read all about How I Scored High End Used Kitchen Cabinets for my Remodel for only $5k.

1. Check For Quality Brand Names

The whole point of buying furniture secondhand is saving money on something that would otherwise be out of your budget. 

For that reason, you should avoid dumping money into something that isn’t worth it. So, if you picked it up cheap, you can still fix it up. I used to do that too - tons of people are making money online. And you can too!

only shop for the best in luxury, I just don’t want to pay retail price for all of it. So I go to estate sales and buy wealthy people’s private collections, that they no longer need! You can score on jewelry - shoes, hats -- all of it! It’s like playing dress-up and taking all this awesome stuff home with me.  

It’s how we live beyond our means - every single day. But we only paid pennies on the dollar!  It’s totally the best rush on earth!

Look for tags and labels on a piece you like to see where it originally came from. As much as we all love Ikea, you may want to save your dollars for a better used piece (Ikea furniture isn’t known for having long life).

Quality furniture can make all the difference in your home. The furniture industry within the United States alone is a nearly 100 billion dollar industry and there is an entire ocean of brands fighting for your business. Bedroom sets, modern furniture, pool tables, and every other type of furniture you can imagine are all sold in tiers of qualities—and prices. For every quality piece of furniture on the market, there are 10 pieces of trash that won’t last a year.

For that reason, it’s tough to list all of the Regional furniture and National furniture outlets, but I promise to update with 

I have compiled a list of top American furniture manufacturers with links below. But keep in mind that there are tons of high-quality small manufacturers who are more regional, rather than having national distribution as these high-end furniture manufacturers do. Do not hesitate to work with regional furniture manufacturers - there are lots of good ones out there.

At some point, I’ll add my favorites for Colorado, but for now, I’ll point you to national brands that you can find in anybody’s neighborhood across the United States:

 

If you see a brand on the tag or label you don’t recognize, pull out your smartphone and do some research!  You might have found yourself a treasure—one can hope so, anyway!

2. Scrutinize Each Piece

Even without a label, you can gauge the quality of used furniture. Start by inspecting the materials. Solid wood is better than composite or particle board, as it’s sturdier.

You should also take a look at how the piece is built. Dovetailed joints are a sign of good quality while nails are indication of flimsy construction (do not confuse upholstery nails with construction nails).

Dovetail Joints are a sign of quality furniture workmanship. Here’s a picture of what a dovetail joint looks like:

A dovetail joint or simply dovetail is a joinery technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery (carpentry) including furniture, cabinets, log buildings and traditional timber framing. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart (tensile strength), the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of 'pins' cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of 'tails' cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners.

Look for dovetail joints whenever you’re out there looking at second-hand furniture. Every time and anywhere, furniture with dovetail joints will last much better than furniture without dovetail joints.

3. Test it Out

So you’ve found a piece you like, determined it’s free of bed bugs and good quality. Take it for a test-drive! It’s got to be comfortable if it’s in my living room!

Or in my Airbnb, for that matter.;-)

4. Consider Giving it an Upgrade

A piece of furniture that’s a little rough around the edges but it has good “bones” (structure), can still make a great piece for your house or apartment. You can sand and repaint it, add new cushions or update the fabric. Try to look at the construction, lines and style of the furniture, not the casing it comes in—all that can be changed.

When you’re at a mansion shopping through the final earthly possessions of the dearly-departed, you’ll likely find the highest quality brands throughout, whether it be their furniture, their clothing, shoes -- even luggage. Odds are, if they were wealthy, they have used top-quality throughout the home. I tend to trust the previous owner’s judgement on quality because often I’ve never even heard of these brands or designers.  

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Pick up matching furniture & decor

That being said, don’t forget to factor the cost of upgrades into your furnishing budget (wink, wink. Whitney!)

Online classifieds, consignment shops and thrift stores are all standard hunting grounds for used furniture, but you can also look on Craigslist, Flea Markets/Swap Meets, FreeCycle and Facebook ‘For Sale’ Groups.

FreeCycle.org operates on the principles of recycling and sharing. People post items online they no longer want and are willing to give away for free (free!). Others create posts asking for certain items. You can browse by your city to see what’s available.

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All these furniture options allow you to find inexpensive furniture, perfect for a person decorating on a budget. You’ll have your affordable price tag and the items will come in one piece (it’s a good thing too, because I don’t follow instructions well).

Also, look for the use of fine hardwoods like cherry or walnut. A premium is typically paid for these woods.

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Wealthy people die too.  

 

 

Why not go estate-sale shopping in the richest neighborhoods?

When you’re at a mansion shopping through the final earthly possessions of the dearly-departed, you’ll likely find the highest quality brands throughout, whether it be their furniture, their clothing, shoes -- even luggage. Odds are, if they were wealthy, they have used top-quality throughout the home. I tend to trust the previous owner’s judgement on quality because often I’ve never even heard of these brands or designers.  

They’re waaaaaaay outta my shopping budget, I’m not even sure where wealthy women find this cool stuff! I don’t really care though, because I much prefer paying pennies on the dollar on hardly-used second-hand everything!!

Quality furniture can make all the difference in your home, though the best furniture brands are sometimes hard to find. The furniture industry within the United States alone is a nearly 100 billion dollar industry and there is an entire ocean of brands fighting for your business. Bedroom sets, modern furniture, pool tables, and every other type of furniture you can imagine are all sold in tiers of qualities—and prices. For every quality piece of furniture on the market, there are 10 pieces of trash that won’t last a year.

All these furniture options allow you to find inexpensive furniture, perfect for a person decorating on a budget. You’ll have your affordable price tag and the items will come in one piece (it’s a good thing too, because I don’t follow instructions well. Besides, I hate putting furniture together!  

Don’t You?

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