When you are turning your house into a home that fulfills your vision, you want every piece to be unique and perfect. Sometimes that means a cherished antique that has been in your family for years, a unique piece found at a second-hand store, or a new quality piece that pulls the design together. There may be a place for each of these in your design, but when you are considering buying used furniture, there are a few things you should know first.
1. There May Be Structural Problems and Missing Parts
I know it may be tempting to buy that chair with the wobbly legs, thinking a quick fix will solve the problem. Be sure to examine the piece carefully, looking for cracks or stapled legs. If there are any parts missing, you may not be able to find the right replacements, especially if the piece has a few years on it. Also check for signs of water damage, termites, and other insect infestation. Assess its condition, and if you think you won’t be able to easily get it fixed, it is best to leave that piece behind. Structural integrity is essential to you, your family’s, and your guests’ safety.
2. The Upholstery Has Been Heavily Used
This is another no. It may be tempting, if you find a piece that has “good bones.” However, there may be more to it than just changing the fabric. Lumps and bumps may indicate that it will be uncomfortable, and saggy pillows are hard to fix. Worn upholstery can be replaced, but it can be costly to do it professionally. Take a good look at the frame, too. Unless it is a superior piece of vintage furniture or an antique with great lines, you are better off going with a new piece of furniture.
3. If It Smells Funny
I once came across a kidney-shaped chaise lounge in a cool, funky print. Unfortunately, it smelled overwhelmingly like wet dog. I brought it home and thought I could either clean it or have it cleaned. As you may have guessed, that smell never came out. Upholstery and case goods can absorb smells from many sources, including smoke from cigarettes or fires, cooking odors, and, in my case, pets. Don’t fool yourself, not only will that smell probably never come out, your entire room will end up smelling like that (mistake) piece of furniture.
4. Mattresses May Have Bedbugs
I get itchy even thinking about this, but when you bring home used furniture, you can sometimes bring home more than you expected. Seriously, you shouldn’t even be thinking about buying a used mattress, no matter how low the price is, or even if it is a hand-me-down from your brother-in-law. In fact, that would be the only reason I’d consider it. There’s a reason someone didn’t want that mattress anymore. In addition to getting a mattress that is uncomfortable, you may also get bed bugs, mold, dust mites, and more. It may cost more than the piece is worth to get rid of them.
It is important to remember that used furniture pieces are often in poor condition and some may harbor unexpected dangers. Chances are you won’t be able to return it, too, since most used and antique furniture is sold as-is and without any guarantees. Check any used, vintage, or antique furniture you are considering buying carefully before you bring it into your home. After considering all the issues, you may find that it is best to avoid buying used furniture altogether.