While walking Gidgy this past Saturday, I stumbled upon two garage/estate sales. I have mixed feelings when I buy from an estate sale. On one hand, I realize it’s helping the family clear things out. On the other, there’s years worth of someone’s belongings up for grabs… so it always makes me feel a little heavy-hearted. Because of this, I always treat these pieces with extra care and respect.
This reminds me of an email I received asking where I find all the furniture I restyle, and if I still only pay up to $50 a piece – which I wrote about in this past article on How To Price Painted Furniture.
The short answer is NO. Over the years I’ve doubled my budget. On top of that, if I see a piece that inspires the heck out of me and I just can’t live without, I may even pay a little more than my max. That said, I AM f.r.u.g.a.l… and the less I pay, the better. AND, when I find a great piece for FREE – well don’t even get me started – hands down – that’s the biggest score and usually inspires me the most. If there’s a piece heading to the junk and “I” save it, I feel like doing my happy dance! ha
So, for all you frugalista’s who feel the same, and for those of you seeking inexpensive furniture to create your masterpieces, I’m sharing The Frugal Guide to Buying Furniture… To Paint!
I realize the area you live in may be different than mine. Some of these ideas may be more accessible in certain countries, provinces or states, but I really hope this guide gives you some helpful tips on where you can find some great furniture deals. Because after all, the hunt is half the fun!
The Frugal Guide to Buying Furniture… To Paint!
This is more of a reference post – not a ‘pretty pic’ post. That said, I have a huge appreciation for all my pieces that I’ve found… even in their original state. I’ve included all the BEFORE images so you can see what condition I bought or found them in. The link directly below the image(s) will bring you to the restyled AFTER and the HOW-TO-tutorials.
This guide/list is in no particular order. Here we go… 🙂
1:: ESTATE SALES
At Saturday’s estate sale, I bought this waterfall dresser for $50 – listed for $80. Prices at estate sales are usually very reasonable but yes, you can negotiate if done so respectfully. For those of you who are long-time readers, you know I have mixed feelings about waterfall furniture. I couldn’t pass this one up though. I fell in love with the gorgeous vintage hardware. This piece needs a little work, but I’ll be sure to share this waterfall restyle with you once it’s complete.
Here’s another example of a gorgeous vintage vanity found at an estate sale.
LAYERED ‘STORMY SEAS’ VINTAGE VANITY MAKEOVER
2:: GOODWILL | SALVATION ARMY
Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other nonprofit organizations are amazing places to buy second-hand furniture. The furniture is usually sold for a very reasonable price and the added benefit is you’re supporting community-based programs. This amazing buffet was found at a Goodwill.
NO MESS WET DISTRESS PAINTED FURNITURE
3:: SAVERS | VALUE VILLAGE | THRIFT STORES
These thrift stores that are for-profit also carry household items including furniture for great prices. Like the non-profits above, popping in on a regular basis is helpful to find the ‘good stuff’ because it gets nabbed up quickly. My most recent Value Village find was a china buffet + hutch. The buffet below was restyled and I still have the hutch in my garage. Two for the price of one!
FURNITURE PAINTING WITH WAX… PINK WAX!
4:: CONSIGNMENT SHOPS
Consignment shops like The Millionaire’s Daughter are filled with furniture to makeover. The prices are usually a little more costly, but you can easily find specific items because they have a huge selection. This hutch was a makeover from The Millionaire’s Daughter.
THE MILLIONAIRE’S DAUGHTER | FALL INSPIRED CABINET
5:: GARAGE | YARD SALES
If you’re an early bird, garage/yard sales are amazing places to find used furniture. Bring cash, coffee, and comfy shoes and hit the road with your bestie. It’s a ton of fun and you never know what gems you’ll come home with! I’m a night owl, so I don’t get to take advantage of these as much as I’d like.
I can’t say enough good things about my local ReStore. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit donation centers that sell new and gently used building materials, kitchens, home accessories, tools, paint AND furniture! I’m finding their furniture prices have been on the rise the last year or so, but you can still get some excellent deals when they are overstocked and have a sale to clear out inventory.
I’ve never attended a live auction, but a few of my furniture painting friends have and they say there are some great deals. I have participated in online auctions and they are a lot of fun. It’s a good idea to go to the viewing date and time they have available. Although there are great deals and it’s fun to bid, it’s difficult to see how much repair the furniture actually requires. If any of you have attended a live auction, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
8:: CRAIGSLIST | KIJIJI | ONLINE ADS
This is still where the majority of my furniture is acquired. Beware, it’s a little addictive. You go online and scroll through hundreds of ads searching for a piece that strikes your fancy. It’s easy to set a specific location, how far you’re willing to drive and even your budget. Only the ads within the parameters you set will pop up. I wrote a full post with more Craigslist tactics here.
BUNKER HILL BLUE BUFFET MAKEOVER
9:: SHOP YOUR OWN HOME
Shop your own home! I guarantee you have a sad, dusty forgotten piece of furniture hiding in the corner of your garage or basement. Restyling this piece with a new color and hardware will make all the difference.
10: FAMILY, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, AND CO-WORKERS
Everyone I know knows what I do. I’ve had my neighbors and my sister’s neighbors ‘donate’ furniture that they don’t want or need any longer. Because I’m self-employed, I don’t have any coworkers, but I’ve acquired furniture from MMM clients and my sister’s coworkers. (Earl, thank you! – your plant stand is patiently waiting for it’s restyle!) Don’t feel uncomfortable. It’s helpful to let people know you’re willing to take pieces they no longer want off their hands. This saves them the hassle of getting rid of it. Here’s a piece that belonged to a retired co-worker of Andreas. This dresser fought me every step of the way, but I love the end result.
BOXWOOD DRESSER | SOME BAD TAKES & SOME GOOD ADVICE
11:: ANTIQUE MARKETS | FLEA MARKETS
Antique Markets are a good place to find vintage furniture. Flea markets have more of a mishmash of styles and eras. I find prices can vary but if you find booths that are specific to selling old pieces, prices are always negotiable. I bought this vintage dresser from an antique market for $100. At the time I didn’t purchase it to paint, but like many things in my home, it ended up getting a makeover.
DIY WEATHERED WOOD | BEDROOM DRESSER
12:: CURB SHOPPING
This has got to be my favorite. I know some of you may be squeamish about picking things up roadside, but when I see a fabulous solid piece of furniture just sitting there, omigosh – my heart goes pitter patter and I can’t wait to jump out and grab it. My happy is two-fold. 1) I save a piece from ending up in a landfill – good for our environment. 2) I get to work on and create a finish to give this salvaged piece a long life… too fun! The first buffet/pic, I missed out on. By the time I walked Gidgy back home and drove my SUV to pick it up, it was gone. Bummer.
MOULIN ROUGE – THE PRO’S AND CON’S OF PAINTING SALVAGED FURNITURE
ROADSIDE RESTYLE | CLASSIC FRENCH DRESSER
This post is getting long so if you’re still with me, thank you 🙂 … and here are a few bonuses. There are more opportunities to find and buy used furniture to paint on Facebook Groups, other social platforms, moving sales, and church sales. Things I usually have on hand when searching for furniture include cash, measuring tape, screwdriver, comfortable closed toe shoes, moving blanket, wet wipes and a large enough vehicle to haul my finds home!
If you have a budget in mind, GREAT! But if you find that one piece that you can’t imagine leaving without, treat yourself! Sometimes going over budget is well worth the creative inspiration…. and you’re worth it!
Pricing Your Painted Furniture
The Beauty In The Before
Layering Chalk Paint | Empire Dresser Makeover
IF YOU HAVE ANY BARGAIN FURNITURE BUYING TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, FEEL FREE TO CHIME IN… I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU.
Happy hunting and have an inspiring day!
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If my 20 – 40-year-old self, saw how I acquire furniture, she would be appalled. Now I can’t imagine stepping foot into a furniture store unless it’s to buy a sofa or mattress! Wish that gal was as wise as her older self, she could have saved herself a $h%@ load of money 😉
LOL… I hear ya, Marie! I was SO embarrassed as a kid, although, by my 20’s, I was already ‘salvage hunting’ for the bargains. Early bloomer I guess 😉 And hey, fellow frugalista – you helped inspire this blog post title. Hugs XOXO 🙂
Linda at q is for quandie says
First off, thanks for the great info Denise. My furniture budget is right in line with yours, so it’s always fun to learn that I’m on the right track. I’ll weigh in on auctions. There is a great auction house just a mile down the road from me. The afternoon and evening before the auction takes place you can go in and inspect the items. So if you’re concerned about condition or needed repairs you can scope that out in advance of bidding. You can also leave absentee bids, ie. leave your info and your top dollar price and they will bid for you without you having to be there. All of that being said, I almost never go because the prices usually tend to be higher than I want to pay. Plus there are several fees stacked on top of the ‘price’ that add up. The auctioneer is very entertaining though … maybe I should give it another try 😉
Good to know, Linda! I’d love to try a live auction. Just as you said, even if I don’t come home with anything, I think it would be a fun/entertaining experience. And there are small fees attached to the online auction also, but you can still get some decent deals. Where I fall short is I’m too lazy… or too busy 😉 to go check out the furniture prior to bidding, so I’ve only bid a few times.
Linda at q is for quandie says
LOL, ditto for sure. I never can manage to find the time to get there during the window of time allotted for previewing the items either!
I started going to auctions when I was about 5 and attended with my parents who always liked a bargain. When attending an auction at the age of 8, a framed print of a little girl with blonde curly hair and her dog came up and the auctioneer asked someone to start out with $1.00, I yelled out, “$2.00”. Everyone laughed, but I got the picture and still have it more than 55 years later.
I love auctions and have learned that I have to set a limit for the price that I want to pay when the piece comes up, or I will make the mistake of going over what I think it is worth. Bargains are to be had especially on wintery, cold days when not many people want to venture out.
Thanks for the ‘cold-days’ tip Margaret… that makes a lot of sense. And I love your story of the framed print. The curly-haired girl and her dog must have really spoken to you! And hearing that you’ve had the print for over 55 years, WOW – that’s really special! When I hear sweet stories like this, I REALLY wish you guys could leave images in the comments section. 🙂
Great resource, thank you! The thrift stores in my area are also starting to hike their prices… including furniture. I find amazing deals on CL tho.
Hi Nicki! Yes, Craigslist and Kijiji are still my go-to for furniture also but I go through phases. For a few weeks, I’ll frequent thrift shops and then online ads. It’s all fun. And it’s my guess that the Chalk Paint craze has something to do with used furniture prices going up. I’ve seen ads on furniture saying “Great Chalk Paint” project as a selling feature!
Hi Denise. Thank you for all the helpful tips to find furniture. I also LOVE “shopping the trash” as I call it. My Mother always said “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” And she was so right! You seem to have an eye for quality that I admire. Thanks again for sharing.
Oh Monique, we’re kindred spirits my friend! And my parents never had any issues picking things up off the curbside either. The only thing was when I was younger, it used to embarrass the h%$# out of me. Look at me now…lol. 😉
Hi Denise I’ve enjoyed your sight and all the tips and makeovers since I found you. I too am I furniture rescue poor girl. I have found besides SA I have found good buys on Letgo sight. It’s like curb shopping on line. Of course my grown son took me dumpster diving years ago.i had never heard of fun before that. Another place is thrift store distribution or drop off because they sometime throw out things when they are overcrowded. It is sad to see the waste. Keep up the good work.
This is why I love being online… I never even heard of letgo.com!… I just learned something new, thank YOU, Tina! And I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying the SI Blog. Hope you drop by again. 🙂 Happy hunting. 🙂