Antiques for Frugal Home Decorators
Furniture Buying Tips
My Story: Quality Furniture for Less
There is a super cheap place to get good, sturdy nice furniture, and it's at estate sales.
An estate sale is a better sale than a yard sale. Yard sales are 90% junk or outgrown stuff, so they are great for kids' clothes and toys but not so great for finding nicer things you can use to build your home. However, an estate sale is usually held by a company that has one to four days to sell everything in a house or apartment/condo after a death or move to a nursing home/assisted living. And if the 1940s furniture lasted though a 91-year-old's last 50 years of life, then odds are it will easily last another 50 years at your house.
I have seen bedroom sets with full or twin beds sell for $300 and that included the mattresses, bed frames, two bedside tables, one dresser, and a chest of drawers. I have seen nice, comfortable couches, chairs, etc. with light damage (a little bit of fraying, worn spots/stains on the chair used most often, etc.) go for free if hauled away. There's nothing a slipcover for $40 won't fix.
With an aging population boom ready to downsize in the next five years, these types of things are losing their commercial value, but just because there is a market glut driving down used furniture prices from the 1930-1950 era does not mean you can't use them. And if you want antiques, at this time they are down, too, unless they are the very nice things that most of us don't want in our homes due to the need to be careful with them. However, the lower-end antiques have the bonus of being cheaper now than they have been in the past, and when the economy gets back on track, they should actually go up in value.
Shop in the nice, older neighborhoods where the folks who were bank presidents, owners of successful businesses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. lived and stayed after they retired. They bought good quality stuff, and they took care of it. I have often bought furniture from the 1930-1960 time period and had the original receipts and any care/warranty information handed to me when I bought it 50 years later. At this point in my life, I'm shopping for upgrades to the low quality stuff I bought 20 years ago that now needs replacing. I wish I'd bought from estate sales back then and saved myself a ton of money and time. By the way, you can often buy cars and trucks at estate sales for about 20-40% below blue book.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@Stretcher.com.
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