I hope you’re here after reading the excellent posts on sustainable furniture brands, and how to style your home with sustainable furniture. A little bit of blowing my own trumpet, there. As I read more and more about the materials used in brand new products (even ones labelled as vegan), I’m coming to the undeniable conclusion that it’s best to make do with what’s already available in this world. By which I mean pre-owned items – or “pre-loved,” if you will. Basically thrifted furniture. It’s a sad commentary on our society that people throw away perfectly good furniture so that they can buy new stuff. But it’s great for those of us who don’t mind using pre-loved stuff, especially when it means there’s a slightly lesser burden on the planet.
Why Buy Thrifted Furniture?
Buying thrifted furniture has several advantages: it’s sustainable by virtue of the fact that no new resources were used to make it. It may be made from Burmese teak, but from back in 1972.
It’s cheaper – and it’s perhaps even affordable to buy pieces that one could never have afforded brand new.
And you’re actually extending its life span by using it (and therefore sending less waste to the landfill).
And the most fun plus point of all? You are likely to find a one-of-a-kind piece hiding in the back room of a used furniture dealer that you fall utterly in love with and that goes on to become the pièce de résistance of your living room, helping you entertain friends and family for decades to come. Sigh. It’s the promise of such hidden treasures that gets thrift store furniture hunters to comb through hundreds of pieces to find that precious gem. It’s true, it actually does happen.
You can even flip thrifted furniture and make money off of it. Re-upholster this barstool, for example:
I don’t have any videos to show you my skills, but check out this video for some tips on flipping thrifted furniture:
So, anyway, I know your next question:
How Do You Actually Go About Thrifting Furniture?
First, check with everyone you know – family, friends, colleagues, neighbors. Someone may be downsizing, or redecorating, or moving abroad. This is especially important if you have something specific in mind (that walnut coffee table that your aunt has had forever). Who knows? You could end up with a lovely piece that’s new (to you), at a great price, and without much fuss.
Want to actually see and feel the furniture before you buy? You weirdo. (kidding!) Browsing through a thrift store is one of my favorite things to do. All the pieces have some history to them, and a good manager of a thrift store will have uniquely curated pieces. And when you see something you like, you just know. Luckily, you can get gorgeous items for a fraction of the original price. Of course, whether that fraction is within your budget is another matter (ahem). So, head to your local Goodwill or nearest furniture thrift store (just Google thrifted furniture near me, duh) for excellent finds and spend a lovely, lazy afternoon there.
Where Can I Buy Thrifted Furniture Online?
What if no one you know is getting rid of their furniture? Try online stores, of course.
Keep in mind the transportation costs when you’re shopping for thrifted furniture online. You may love an old leathery couch that’s totally within your budget, but is it worth shipping it from Vermont to San Francisco?
Here’s a quick list – you’re going to be spending a lot of time on these sites, if you’re like me!
1 // AptDeco
The top place for buying and re-selling top furniture brands including West Elm, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. You can calculate delivery and also check for “exposure to pets.”
As I was browsing, I came upon a lovely chair with this work of art on its legs:
I scrolled down, and surely enough:
As a fellow owner of “exposed to pets” furniture, I feel the seller’s pain. Haha!
2 // Etsy Reclaimed
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3 // Chairish
This store has a jaw-dropping range of furniture available for sale. Great place to sell your used furniture as well. They have two “Item types”: Vintage, Antique or Pre-Owned and Newly Made & Made to Order. Select the first category for secondhand stuff, obviously.
Check out this Vintage Henry Link Bali Dresser and Night Stand below (it costs $400, and the original price was $1,250). And, wow, this is one of the best product photos I’ve come across during my thrifted furniture search. The set looks so beautiful!
4 // Kaiyo
This is an online marketplace for “pre-owned furniture that’s made to last.” Every piece is inspected, cleaned, and ready for delivery. The buying process seems pretty seamless, and their website is gorgeous! The one drawback I thought found? They didn’t seem to have actual pictures of the products – all the photographs were of new items. “Where are the photos of the used, secondhand pieces that are the ones up for sale?” I wondered. But they have a drop down selection for ‘Condition’.
I clicked on that and selected ‘Salvage’, and realized the photographs are of the actual products. They’re just very well taken, in good light and with the background completed removed in post. Alrighty.
Check out this “gently used” West Elm Modern Six Drawer Dresser (priced at $85; original price $1,099.)
5 // EBTH
EBTH is Everything But the House, and this is a marketplace where you can bid for the items on offer. EBTH authenticates, sorts and photographs all the pieces, so it’s definitely an above-average fancy place. I would love to get my hands on this set of wrought metal bar stools and and flip them into newer-looking and more stylish pieces.
6 // 1stdibs
They’re here to “connect the world’s best dealers, finest shops and most important galleries with individuals like you: the world’s most sophisticated collectors, designers and curators.” Oooohhh, fancy! They’re expensive as hell, but do what I do. Use their website as eye candy and drool away at all the furniture. And make note of the designs if you have dreams of making your own furniture one day (ahem). And if you happen to find something you can afford, then hey, why not.
7 // Sotheby’s Home
I know what you’re thinking: “WTF?” Yeah, no normal person can afford this, but looking is still free! Sotheby’s Home was formerly called Viyet, and they refer to it as participating in the circular economy and being the “premier online consignment platform for buying and selling exceptional pre-owned furniture…found in stylish homes across the country.” In other words, it’s for when rich people want to sell their stuff. But that doesn’t mean one has zero chances of finding a wonderful item that’s priced sensibly. Worst case, you’ve looked at a bunch of gorgeous items for a couple of hours. Not too bad.
I’m a sucker for bookshelves, so here’s a bookshelf I really like:
8 // eBay
Ah, yes. More fitting with my budget. Everyone knows about eBay, but sometimes you get stunning pieces! Or you could read this comprehensive post on finding thrifted furniture in Facebook Marketplace.
And that’s the list! I had a great time browsing through these sites. I hope you find the same kinda fun on them:)
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