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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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