Buying Furniture for Less
Antiques for Frugal Home Decorators
Furniture Buying Tips
My Story: Why I Buy Estate Sale Furniture
Buying Furniture for Our New Home
My husband and I recently moved to a new home. We have saved our money to buy new furniture. However, even though we want new furniture, I don't want to pay more than we have to. Does anyone have any tips about how to buy new furniture at a better price?
Eileen in CT
Buying Furniture: So What's Wrong?
I've noticed that many furniture stores have a "scratch 'n dent" room. This room has display items along with pieces that may have small flaws in the fabric, etc. Most of the flawed items you need to really be looking to find the problem - even when they tell you what is wrong with it! I've found many good deals for myself and friends while checking these rooms out.
Buying Furniture: Auctions Are a Possibility
My best advice for furniture purchases is to go to auctions. You may have to be patient to find the style you want, but it could be worth the wait. The best auctions to go to are those that are advertised as "absolute". This means that everything must sell regardless of the price it brings. The seller can't put a limit on it. Therefore if there is a beautiful bedroom suit there, and no one else happens to need or want it badly, and the highest bid is a dollar, then it will sell.
Many times bedroom suits and dining room suits sell for great prices because many people already have these items and have no need for them, even if they are nice and a great buy. I have attended many auctions and many times the items in the sale are those that belonged to a person from an era where you took great care of the items that you worked so hard to get, so they are often in "next to new" condition.
Some examples of furniture we've purchased at auctions:
- A bedroom suit from a hotel liquidation: $80. This included the mattress and boxspring, which were enclosed in plastic.
- A beautiful old baker's cupboard $90, we always get compliments on this piece from company.
- A sturdy old fashioned (but better than the new ones) Electrolux sweeper (just like the one my mom had) $7 bucks! It works better than the "new" one we got for our wedding.
- A china/storage cupboard $25.
- Beautiful Oak table & chairs $20 (they were covered in white paint but when refinished are a beautiful golden oak).
Check your local paper for auctions and even call one of the auctioneers listed and ask to be put on their mailing list.
Buying Furniture: Very Helpful Book
I'm so happy that I can share what I have recently discovered with someone else! I found a book at Barnes and Noble Bookstore called The Insider's Guide to Buying Home Furnishings by Kimberly Causey.
It tells you how to save 50% to 80% off retail prices (basically paying the wholesale price) on all home furnishings - especially furniture (the markup in incredible). I have to admit I was a bit skeptical before reading it, but it was wonderful! Anyone who reads this book and uses the information given will save thousands.
Buying Furniture: Beware of the Too Good Deal
Beware! If the deal seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Less than a year after buying a leather look sofa from the Grand Furniture Warehouse, I found out why I paid so little for it. After about 7 months, it started tearing and now it looks like someone slashed it up with a knife.
When we bought our bedroom set, we went to a local wholesaler that had low prices and brand names. The furniture is beautiful, great quality and the service was wonderful. Buy to last; get furniture that is meant to last like oak.
Buying Furniture: IKEA is a Favorite
Look into a store called IKEA. They have a web presence if you don't have a store near you. It's a Swedish company that sells a wide range of furniture from college dorm stuff to designer quality. Their things are more reasonably priced than most furniture stores because most things come in a flat package as a kit for assembly.
We have bought many things from IKEA over the years and have been happy with them. They have a phenomenal return policy and really stand by their products. We renovated our kitchen last year and were able to buy the high line appliances we wanted because we saved so much money on the IKEA cabinets. Putting them together was simple and they look beautiful.
Buying Furniture: Check Out Scratch & Dent
One great place to find furniture at discount prices is the scratch and dent section of your local furniture store. Sometimes, people buy sofas and love seats from living room sets and then leave the other pieces from the set. The furniture store doesn't know what to do with the rest of the mismatched set, so they put it in the scratch and dent area at a discounted price. That's how we purchased our living room furniture. We got two love seats and a sofa for $800 less than the price of the original set in the store, which had a chair and ottoman paired with the love seat and sofa. There were no defects whatsoever in our furniture, it was just a mismatched set. And we have a little more seating than if we had gone with the (more expensive) original set. We also found a great solid oak coffee table and matching end table that had one scratch on a wooden drawer handle. We turned the handle so the scratch faces down, and voila! No one can even see the damage.
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Also remember to bargain, even if the item is damaged and already discounted. Walk away if you don't get the price you want. But know when you see a good deal and don't forget to bring your fabric and carpet samples every time you go shopping. We bought our sofa and love seat the moment after we checked them for damage. Along came a couple who had wanted to buy the set earlier but ran home to get their carpet sample. We felt badly for snatching the set out from under them, but they missed out by not shopping smartly. In the scratch and dent world, the early bird gets the furniture!
If your furniture store is nearby, don't forget to pick up the furniture yourself to save on delivery charges. If you don't own a truck, ask a friend to help out. If you can't make it in one trip, take two.
Buying Furniture: Check Out the Outlet Stores
One way that we have saved on furniture is to visit furniture outlet stores. A lot of times, the furniture you find in these stores came from an order that a customer canceled or returned. Sometimes, the items are damaged (slightly or noticeably.)
I recently bought a Broyhill armoire in a major retailer's furniture outlet store. The only thing that was wrong with it was the knobs that pull the doors open were placed slightly uneven on the doors. Original price $800 - we bought for $300! I have bought numerous pieces at equal savings. Look in your phone book in the yellow pages and see if you can find any. I live close to a major metropolitan area so we have tons of these types of stores here. If you are unable to find any "outlets" listed, call the "full retail" furniture stores and ask them if they have an outlet store. One word of caution - most of the time, the furniture is sold "as is" with no returns allowed - no warranty. So if you decide to go this route, be sure to inspect your pieces very carefully.
Take the Next Step
- Do you struggle to get ahead financially? Then you'll want to subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources.
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