One of the websites I used to get a lot of inspiration was Houzz. Houzz is a design website that you can search to find everything from images of designer rooms to places you can buy accents. Houzz also has an active community of people just like you and me (ie. people who don’t have designers creating expensive, huge rooms for them) discussing their projects and giving feed back to one another – which has been a great tool.
I found Houzz, however, by searching for articles on making a home light and airy. The first article I clicked on was a Houzz article and it was about decluttering and purging. (I’m sure you can figure out what happened next).
Every week, I get emails from Houzz about things I may be interested in. Today’s article was about something near and dear to my heart – second hand furniture. You can read the article here. Almost all my furniture is second hand. Some of it is the “antique” variety, but most of it is stuff I picked up at second hand stores. I even have a set of chairs I convinced a golf course to donate to me when they renovated their pro shop.
Second hand furniture is fun for several reasons. First, second hand furniture has a story. While there’s nothing wrong with buying a Walmart bookshelf (I have several), there’s not much history when you look at the bookshelf everyone else has. Second hand furniture has a uniqueness to it. It’s used. It’s quirky. It doesn’t look like what everyone else has.
Second hand furniture is often much cheaper than buying the new stuff, and you can get high quality furniture for very little money. For example, I have a set of wooden nesting tables I picked up at a second hand store about ten years ago. I’ve seen similar table sets in retail stores for 5x or 10x more than what I paid for these tables (to include around the time I purchased the tables). The second hand seller refinished the tables as part of the purchase price – so they looked brand new.
One of the things I’ve learned in this project is that you don’t have to use furniture for its “traditional” purpose. I have a set of bedstands that were my grandmother’s. I turned them into a breakfast bar and a side table in the dining room, where they hold things like tablecloths, napkins, and flavored coffee packs. An old sewing table found a home in my library. I have an old dresser playing as a counter space near my laundry room (and nowhere near my bedroom). This also gives me lots of ways to use my second hand furniture to tell stories, and to make my home into a place I want to hang out in.
If you’re considering buying furniture, check out your local consignment shops (and even flea markets!). There are lots of treasures out there.