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Can You Really Save Money Buying Used Furniture? The Real Truth!

Do you really save money buying used furniture? Furnishing your home can be a drain on your wallet. But what if you could find stylish and functional pieces for a fraction of the price? It sounds like a win-win situation, but what if it costs you more money in the long run? Today, we explore the world of used furniture and repurposed furniture ideas. What is the real truth about buying pre-loved pieces, and is it the right choice for you?

IKEA storage cube transformed into an apothecary cabinet for greenhouse/she shed.

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Sustainable living is becoming increasingly important, and more and more people are shopping in thrift stores for secondhand furniture, home decor, and clothing. Buying used furniture is a great way to save on your budget, plus it’s good for the planet! Buying used saves items from landfills while reducing the need to manufacture new products. However, there are some things to consider before you head to the thrift store. This guide will weigh the advantages and disadvantages of buying used furniture to help you make an informed decision.

What Is The Best Furniture To Buy At Thrift Stores?

Quality and price should be your first guide when considering buying used furniture.

Just because you find furniture in a thrift store doesn’t mean the price is good. Take time to educate yourself about furniture prices and quality manufacturers.

Knowing that the manufacturer represents quality products will make you more confident in your selections.

For example, this thrifted outdoor furniture is made of solid cast aluminum and is of quality construction. The USA-based company Telescope has been manufacturing high-end furniture since 1903. With outdoor dining sets starting at $4,000 and up, I knew I was getting a great deal at $300.00. All it needed was a little cleaning, some touch-up paint, and new adjustable leg levelers. For less than $50.00, the set looks brand new.

But wait! Once we placed the furniture by the pool, we decided we also needed to update the Adirondack furniture. The old, weathered chairs didn’t look so great with the sparkling white table and chairs. No, we didn’t have to replace those chairs, but we did. So, was it such a great deal? Yes, because even with the new Adirondack chairs, everything around the pool costs less than $900.00. It is still way less than buying new tables and chairs of this quality.

Thrifting with the Gals

Today’s post is part of our monthly series, Thrifting with the Gals.

If you are new to our series, we are friends who share a love for vintage and thrifted decorating.

We all live in different parts of the country, but we come together once a month to share thrift store shopping ideas and tips on decorating with your treasures.

Here are the Gals:

  • Ann from Dabbling and Decorating finds her treasures as she travels between Vermont and Maine. She decorates both homes with so many vintage treasures.
  • Robyn from Robyn’s French Nest loves to travel and bring her vintage treasure to her lovely Florida Home.
  • Lora from Lora Bloomquist Create and Ponder is joining us as a permanent addition to Thrifting with the Gals. We are so happy to have another vintage lover among us.
  • I am from North Carolina and love filling my farmhouse and beach cottage with thrift store finds. I focus on budget-friendly decorating and DIY projects.
  • This month, our guest host is the talented Wendy from WM Design House. Wendy is from California and one of my favorite DIY enthusiast.

Questions To Ask About Used Furniture.

  • Is the piece made of solid wood or other quality materials, and is the construction sturdy?
  • Will it need painting or staining?
  • Can it be repurposed for your needs?
  • What will you need to purchase to update the furniture?
  • Can it be used as it is?
  • Is the price good?
  • If you add this piece to your home, will other changes need to be made?
  • Is it a vintage or antique piece?
Vintage chest transformed in 3 easy steps.  Thrift Store Furniture Find.
The $200.00 solid wood flea market find is the same manufacturer as our bed. With a little cleaning and chalk paint, it is the perfect addition to our bedside. See the 3-Step Thrifted Furniture Makeover details.
Apothecary cabinet with chippy green paint.
Sometimes, it’s such a great piece that you must bring it home, like my friend Ann’s Apothecary Cabinet Story.

What Are The Advantages of Buying Used Furniture?

thrift Store furniture old dresser repurposed as a entry table.

First, let’s take a look at the advantages of buying used furniture.

  • Stretch Your Budget: Used furniture is generally much cheaper than new furniture, sometimes by as much as 70% or more. This allows you to stretch your budget further and potentially find higher-quality pieces for less.
  • Environmentally Friendly: As I mentioned before, buying used keeps furniture out of landfills, which is a significant environmental benefit.
  • Curated Finds: Thrift stores and online marketplaces often offer a wider variety of styles and eras than big box stores. This allows you to discover one-of-a-kind pieces that add character to your home. You may luck up and find a valuable antique or vintage find.
  • Quality construction: Furniture built in the past was often made with sturdier materials and better craftsmanship than some modern furniture. You can find pre-loved pieces that are built to last.
  • Give Back To Your Community: Many places that sell used furniture are charity thrift stores or small, local consignment shops. Therefore, supporting your local business helps to keep your money in your community.
Antique walnut farmhouse style table found at a picker festival.
The Picker’s Festival Deal: I finally found my Antique Farm Table at last year’s Carolina Picker’s Festival. The old church pew and the folding bench were previous thrifted finds.

What Are Major Concerns When Buying Second-hand Furniture

Here are a few obvious concerns when buying used furniture.

Cleanliness: There’s a risk of bringing unwanted guests like bed bugs or termites into your home with used furniture. Careful inspection and proper cleaning are crucial. I would rarely purchase upholstered sofas and chairs unless I plan to have them recovered. Even if you can do the recovering project yourself, consider the cost of new fabric. Also, the foam or stuffing will likely need to be replaced.

Limited selection: If you are looking for something specific, it can be difficult to find it. You have to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and be willing to wait for the items you desire.

No warranty: Unlike new furniture, used furniture typically has no warranty. If something breaks, you’ll be responsible for repairs or replacements. If the item is pricey, will you still benefit if something breaks?

What If The Used Furniture Is Damaged?

I sometimes look for damaged pieces because the deals are usually the best. You will usually get a better deal if you find a damaged piece or one that is missing parts. However, before bringing the piece home, you need to be able to make the repairs or at least know the cost to get the work done.

This china cabinet is a great example. It’s solid wood construction, but the glass shelves were missing. The purchase price was only $50.00. Brad was able to add wood shelves, and we removed the doors. The repurposed cabinet now has a modern aesthetic and looks great in our daughter’s dining room.

What Improvement Are Needed?

When you find a quality piece of furniture, it may be perfect just as it is. If so, you are in luck. However, many times, some work needs to be done.

Here is where the cost of your unique find is important. How much will you spend to make the improvements needed? If you can do it yourself, you most likely still have a great deal. However, if you pay someone to reupholster or refinish your thrift store finds, you may pay more than you would have for a new piece.

Educate yourself on the cost of hiring someone to make the improvements and what materials cost before you make a purchase that may cost you more than you bargained for.

Thrifted Chair was recovered with DIY drop cloth fabric and fresh paint. Repurposed furniture idea.
$5.00 Thrift Store Chair with DIY Drop Cloth Fabric and fresh paint. By doing all the work myself, the project cost less than $20.00.

What If It Needs Refinishing?

Sometimes, the furniture finish is so bad that you must strip the paint or stain and start all over. I like painted furniture but also like the look of natural wood.

When I was searching for a console table for our beach cottage, I was looking for a natural pine finish. When I found the budget-friendly piece I wanted, the stain had a yellow tone that I didn’t like. I used a furniture stripper to bring back the natural wood tone. It was winter, and I’ll admit that removing the finish was a little challenging. But it is so worth the effort because it now has the beachy vibe I wanted.

Console table was a thrift store find that only needed to be stripped and refinished.

My friends Robyn and Wendy have used oven cleaners to strip their thrifted finds. Robyn was removing chippy peeling paint while Wendy’s piece had a time-worn finish. Both pieces turned out great and were worth the effort. Keep in mind that removing a finish is time-consuming and tedious. However, if the price is right, then it’s worth it.

Repurposed Furniture Ideas

One reason many love buying used furniture is to repurpose it. If you are handy, you can create unique home decor with a curated style for a fraction of the cost of high-end, unique decor.

Let’s take a look at some ideas for repurposed furniture and some pros and cons.

Amazing Transformation

This thrift store chest cost $40.00, and I originally just painted it white. However, after a couple of years, I completely transformed it with faux drawer fronts and new hardware. We made the transformations ourselves for only an additional $40.00. It was well worth the original cost. See the full tutorial at Amazing Furniture Transformation Before & After.

thrift Store Wooden Chest repurposed with fake drawer fronts. Repurposed chest into industrial card catalog cabinet

The Cost Of Deconstructing A Chair

Although this upholstered thrift store chair cost $5.00, the only real deal was if I was willing to do the work to deconstruct or reupholster it. Removing all the old fabric and nails was a painstaking endeavor. Although the final cost was only $10.00, the time and energy needed for the deconstruction was exhausting. See more at The Real Truth About Deconstructing A Chair.

I love how it turned out, but the other thrift store chair still sits in my workshop after 3 years. LOL

DIY Kitchen Island From Old Sideboards

The cabinet maker’s quote for a 6×7-foot kitchen island was staggering. Plus, I really wanted to use my rescued sideboard in our new farmhouse. I think I paid $25.00 for it many years ago. I had stripped the original finish and painstakingly restored it to its former glory. With the purchase of a second similar sideboard, we created a unique one-of-kind kitchen island for a fraction of the custom-built price quote. This is still one of my favorite repurposed furniture ideas. See How To Build A Farmhouse Kitchen Island for more details.

Kitchen island using two old side board furniture pieces. Repurposed furniture ideas using old pieces.

Thrifted Furniture Repurposed Into Bathroom Vanities

When I rescued this little mid-century piece from a junk store, it was missing its doors. A little colorful paint adds a bright touch to our guest bathroom.

Bathroom vanity made from a thrift store mid-century table. Unique Repurposed furniture ideas.

This bathroom vanity is a great repurposed furniture idea. Using a vintage sideboard adds a charming and unique character to Lora’s bathroom.

Sideboard bathroom vanity from repurposed furniture .
Photo Credit: Lora Bloomquist Create and Ponder

The repurposed furniture in our powder room has traveled with us from our previous home. The unique one-of-a-kind pottery bowl sink needed a unique base, and this thrift store find was perfect. We painted the top black and added a distressed whitewash finish to the base.

Bathroom Vanity from a thrifted furniture piece.  Repurposed furniture with pottery bowl sink.


So, do you really save money when buying used furniture? In most cases, I’d say yes. Used furniture is usually 70% or more below the original retail cost. If you do your homework and know how to spot quality pieces, plus realize your limitations for repairing and repurposing your buys, you will definitely come out ahead. I will happily answer any questions you may have about buying used furniture.

More Thrifting With The Gals Adventures

Wendy’s Thrifted Garden Treasures / Robyn’s How To Decorate With Glass Cloches for Summer

Lora’s Old Tool Caddy Decor Ideas / Ann’s Quilt Jackets Trendy Vintage Fashion

I hope you have enjoyed these repurposed furniture ideas and tips for saving money buying secondhand. I’d love to hear some of your good and bad thrifting adventures.

Pin It To Remember It

Did you find some great ideas you’d like to save for future reference? To save, hover over the images and pin to your favorite Pinterest Boards when you see the PIN button in the upper left-hand corner.

DO you really save money buying used furniture?  The real Truth


Thursday 20th of June 2024

What a great post! As a lover of thrifted, re-purposed furniture, your ideas are right on. I'll definitely have to use your tips when searching for my next piece!


Friday 21st of June 2024

Robyn, I'm so glad you found this post helpful.

Lora Bloomquist

Thursday 20th of June 2024

Yes, Rachel I agree with all your advice! Used furniture will give your home a much more unique touch than buying from the big box stores, also. And old furniture is made so much better than the new stuff, full of glue. Loved seeing all your transformation examples. So inspiring! Now to get to my huge pile of curbside furniture in the garage;)


Friday 21st of June 2024

Lora, You find the best roadside deals. I luck up occasionally but nothing compared to you.


Thursday 20th of June 2024

Wowza, you have found and transformed some seriously amazing pieces. The furniture offered in the stores around me is either too expensive, already redone, or just so ugly I can't see the good. I love your imagination and creativity. Your skills ain't so shabby either. You've inspired me to keep on looking.


Friday 21st of June 2024

Cindy, If you have charity donation shops or habitat restores in your area, they are the best for good prices and quality.

Wendy McMonigle

Thursday 20th of June 2024

What a fabulous post, Rachel. I love how you can look at an old piece of furniture in the thrift store and see it reinvented in your home.You have so many great ideas to share. Thank you for including my post as well.


Friday 21st of June 2024

Wendy, I appreciate your comments and so glad you joined us this month.


Thursday 20th of June 2024

Great idea for a post-Rachel; I love purchasing second-hand furniture; it's the only way to go, LOL!


Thursday 20th of June 2024

Ann, I agree! I love the unique finds.