As you’ve probably already guessed, we’re big fans of mixing and matching furniture from all different sources. We have items that were given to us, antiques we’ve inherited from our families, cupboards and shelves that we built ourselves, second hand furniture we found, of course, have a few new bits and pieces, too.
By finding things that you like from a bunch of different sources, you end up with a more rounded home that’s full of personality and doesn’t look like something straight out of a catalogue. Interior design can be difficult and buying second-hand furniture makes it easier to find and create something individual as well as grabbing bag a bargain in the process.
We love finding new things for our home but there’s only so much space we have, so we’re not only sharing our tips on how to find great second-hand furniture but also how to easily recycle furniture you no longer need.
These are our top tips on how to find second hand furniture
Yes, I know that this isn’t much of a tip, but inevitably a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time is a big part of discovering second-hand furniture. I’ve lost count of the number of times we found something great only to discover an evil-looking sold sticker on it.
Luckily it works the other way, too!
When we bought our Esavian sideboard that’s now in the guest bedroom we knew that we had to have it, but we couldn’t find the owner of that section of the antique shop. After asking around and being sent from stall to stall, we eventually found him in another shop outside of the main building.
I practically ran his door down because I was so eager to buy the sideboard and my efforts definitely paid off as by the time we went back to the main building to pick up our new sideboard, there were hoards of people all over it trying to buy it, too!
Since buying it, we’ve given the wooden sideboard a refresh and it looks even better than I could have hoped.
I’ve lost count of the times we’ve visited our favourite antique centre without finding anything we liked. Regular visits do however pay off and we’ve been able to pick up some great pieces of furniture including the sideboard we’ve just mentioned, our dining chairs and the bedside table in our guest room (it’s actually a record cabinet).
We bought our first set of dining chairs more than a year before we bought our second lot of 4. We always knew that we wanted a total of 8, so just kept looking. In the end, we were able to pick up the exact same matching ones. It may have taken a bit longer than we expected, but we got there in the end!
3. Research & Measurements
The most important thing to remember when looking for second hand furniture is to take your measurements with you! You’ll probably only have one chance, especially when comes to something unique and once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Being able to decide there and then if it’s right for you is a big part of buying used furniture and knowing if it’ll fit in your space is obviously helpful!
Setting yourself a budget is always a good idea, but for us, it’s more about buying what we like for a price that seems fair to us. If you actually have an idea of furniture and know what something is worth – even better – but we tend to base our buying decisions purely on what we like and can afford.
4. Be Prepared To Do A Bit Of Work
Don’t necessarily expect what you find to be in perfect condition. Often there are a few scuffs, dents and a fair bit of dirt on used furniture, but usually, it’s nothing that a bit of a clean, sand and polish will sort.
Most things are fairly easy to repair and even the most scuffed piece of furniture can look great again. Think about what it would look like painted or can it be sanded and waxed? Refinishing old furniture often only takes minutes of work can make all of the difference. Sanding and waxing our sideboard only took about an hour, but the difference it made is amazing.
If the furniture is too damaged, you can also think about painting it. I’ve lost count of how many pieces of furniture I’ve painted. Painting used furniture is something that’s easy and budget-friendly to do and can completely change the look of an item. You can read our full DIY guide on how to paint wooden furniture here.
What are the best places to buy second hand furniture?
You’ll probably be surprised at just how many places you can find some great second hand furniture online and near you in the real world. Here are some of our favourite places to buy second hand furniture and sell or donate the items we no longer want, too.
1. Local Antique Shops, Reclamation Shops, Charity Shops & Flea Markets
This is our favourite way to shop for vintage and antique furniture as you can rummage through piles of preloved furniture that’s waiting for a new home. There are countless antique and reclamation shops all around and a quick Google search will help you find ones near you.
It may not be as fashionable as it once was, but eBay is still a fantastic place to buy second hand furniture online. You obviously never know quite what the condition of the items is like in real life but you can find some great bargains and you can even set up search alerts so you get notified if an item you’re looking for gets added.
We’ve bought a few pieces of secondhand furniture off eBay and, if you can, I’d recommend picking the items up in person as you can check the condition before you buy it. We purchased a large mid century modern sideboard on eBay and had it delivered only to find that it had a huge watermark on the top. Luckily, you can remove watermarks from wooden furniture but it still wasn’t quite what we expected.
3. Pamono & 1st Dibs
These are two of my favourite sites to browse for second-hand furniture and vintage items. They both have a vast array of high-end and designer furniture. Most of the products are on the pricier side but there are bargains to be found, too.
We may have bought our vintage Gunni Omann sideboard on eBay, but they have it at Pamono, too and I’m pretty sure that anything you buy there will arrive in a much better condition than ours off eBay did!
4. Preloved & Freecycle
These are both great places to find used furniture for your home. Just type in what you’re looking for and see what comes up. I should warn you though – it’s very easy to get carried away and suddenly realise you’ve been ogling gorgeous furniture for the last 3 hours!
I typed “mid-century” into the search bar and found so many gorgeous pieces of preloved furniture that I now may have to add a house extension to my wishlist.
Facebook marketplace is so easy to use. Just enter your location and search radius in the online marketplace and all sorts of weird and wonderful things for sale and for free will pop up. It’s likely that you’ll get an extremely long list of things on offer so narrow down your search results by adding filters like home goods, furniture or home decor.
Another great place to find affordable used furniture online is in Facebook groups. There are lots of groups where people give away items and if you search for “Free [your city name]” You may be surprised at how many groups you find.
What To Do With Furniture You No Longer Need?
Now, that you’ve found a load of furniture that you love, what do you do with the stuff you no longer have a need for? After all, there’s only so much furniture you can buy without having to get rid of some of the stuff you no longer need.
Selling furniture you no longer need in one of the places I mentioned above is a great way to make a little extra cash. Up till now, we’ve always given away anything we no longer needed. Mostly we use Freecycle to get rid of old furniture and over the last few years have given away our previous 6 dining chairs, two armchairs, a bedside table, a tallboy, a Belfast sink and a few other bits and pieces.
Giving things away is a great way of helping others (we had friends and family give us all sorts of stuff when we first moved in and we’ll always be grateful for it) but on a much more selfish note, it’s also a really easy and hassle-free way of getting rid of things you no longer have a use for. You stick a quick post up on Freecycle and within a few hours, you’ll have plenty of people wanting what you’re giving away (we almost always give it to the first person to respond to our post).
When we recently got our new Chesterfield sofa in the living room we’d been struggling to decide what to do with our existing black Florence Knoll style sofa. Although we would usually use Freecycle, we felt that it would be better to give it to a charity. I’m not saying that any of the things we’ve given away weren’t good – they were all still fine, but the sofa was still in a pretty perfect condition, so we felt that it would be best to give it to a charity.
Often charities will come and pick up furniture – which was the case with our sofa, so as well as helping others it’s also a really easy way to easily get chunky items that you’d otherwise struggle to remove.
Essentially the same places that you’ll go to find second-hand furniture are the same places you’ll go to get rid of things you no longer need. We like to think of it as a kind of cycle. You buy something, use and enjoy it and then give it back for others to enjoy.
What do you do with furniture you no longer need? Have you ever managed to find a great second-hand bargain? Do you have any tips for finding great furniture?