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Home Decor Tips: Finding That Treasure At The Market

If you are looking to revamp various rooms in your house, one of the best ways to do this is by purchasing new furniture. New furniture can really add to the look or style of a room, and it can also add comfort and coziness. Unfortunately, buying new furniture can be a very expensive way to go about giving your home a face lift. If you are on a budget though, there are ways to find great pieces of furniture that will spruce up your home. Buying furniture second hand is a fanatastic way to find new pieces that provide function and have sense of history. But how do you go about finding a great second hand piece? Here are some tips on finding the perfect piece of second hand furniture!

Where to Look
The second hand furniture market is really booming these days, and, as a result, second hand furniture can now be found almost anywhere. Depending upon what kind of furniture you are looking for, and your knowledge of the second hand market, you may want to try a few different places to unearth that great find. Here are some places to start off:

  • Friends and Family: Raiding your friend’s attic or your family's basement can often be an ideal place to find second-hand furniture at a low (maybe even free) price. Everyone has some sort of furniture stored away for rainy days, so why not explore? And bargaining with friends and family is often less intimidating than heading straight to an antiques dealer.
  • Garage and Yard Sales: Garage and yard sales are another good starting place for first-time second hand buyers. These sales offer a wide range of furniture at very low prices. Though you may not find a valuable antique piece, many yard sales offer quality furniture at affordable prices.
  • Flea Markets: Flea markets are excellent to visit when it comes to buying second hand items for the home. Flea markets usually have a large number of vendors, meaning you will have a better selection and a range of prices. Plus flea markets let you bargain for prices, which means you could get a really good deal.
  • Second Hand and Consignment Shops: These shops often work for charities, which means that they can afford to sell furniture at very low prices. Furniture is usually in pretty good condition too.
  • Estate Sales: Estate sales are held when a person dies and the estate wants to get rid of any remaining furniture or artwork. These sales often have beautiful pieces available for reasonable prices.
  • Auctions: Furniture auctions are terrific places to find antique furniture that is of good quality and condition. They can be intimidating for first time buyers though, so think about trying online auctions.
  • Antique Stores: Antique stores offer wonderful pieces for those who are interested in making a real statement. Look around though, and be sure to find an antique dealer that you can trust.

Before You Buy
Before you buy, it is a good idea to have a rough idea of what type of furniture, and what kind of pieces you are looking for. It is easy to get swept up in the moment when browsing through a flea market or participating in an auction, and you may end up with something you don't really want. So be sure to consider what kind of pieces you need to buy. Also consider the style of your home: if your house has a distinct Victorian feeling, you probably won’t want to buy modern, sleek-lined furniture. Be sure to consider your budget as well.

Determining the Good from the Bad
One of the pitfalls of buying second hand is knowing what is a good find and what is actually junk. You may find yourself being pushed to buy something by a salesperson that guarantees their piece is an "antique" or a "great deal". However, this is not always the case. So before you buy, always take a good look at the piece of furniture. Here are some things to look out for to ensure you get a smart bargain:

  • Beware of wobbly legs on tables and chairs. Test out each leg and check for the wobble factor as well as splits or cracks. If the legs don't seem sturdy, they probably aren't.
  • Pull out all drawers and check the construction. Look for dovetails and dust panels at the back of the drawers. If they are there, than the piece is probably pretty well made.
  • Inspect all hinges. Look for hinges that are bent or damaged. They may need to be repaired.
  • Look for dry rot or woodworm. Tiny holes or cracks in the surface of a piece may suggest that it is contaminated with something. Also look for silverfish and termites, which can spread to the rest of your wood furniture, not to mention the rest of your house!
  • Be especially careful when buying second hand baby or children's furniture. This furniture may contain lead paint or sealers, which can be poisonous. Look for a label that shows it has been inspected and approved for sale in your country.
  • Pay attention to the type of wood. Not all wood furniture is created equal. White pine is much softer and won’t last as long as other types of wood. Knotty pine is a medium-quality wood, which will stand up to some, but not all, refinishing. Higher-grade furniture is made from birch, aspen, maple, oak, or cherry, but this quality tends to be reflected in the price.

How Can You Make it Your Own?
Second hand furniture is rarely perfect, but even if your piece has some dents or scrapes, these things can often be covered up or fixed. Here are some tips on making your piece your own:

  • Sand and refinish wood furniture. Try adding a coat of paint of stain to the piece. Faux finishes look great on a lot of second hand pieces.
  • Disguise marked tabletops by adding ceramic tile or a piece of cut mirror to fit over the top.
  • Add new knobs or pulls to drawers and cupboards.
  • Reupholster worn chairs and sofas with new fabric.
  • Touch up nicks, dents, or scratches with special crayons available from your hardware store. Or, try fixing up these flaws with a matching color of shoe polish.