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  • Alex Thorpe

A guide to buying second-hand furniture

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Furniture is an essential part of turning a house into a home, but it can be expensive to furnish a space from scratch. Fortunately, there's a sustainable and budget-friendly solution: buying second-hand furniture. With more than £2.2 billion in homeware and furniture thrown away in the UK every year, there are so many high-quality pre-owned pieces that can breathe new life into your living space at a fraction of the cost of new.

Continue reading for our top tips for buying second-hand furniture.


1. Set Your Budget

Before embarking on your second-hand furniture shopping journey, it's important to establish a budget. Determine how much you're willing to spend, keeping in mind that buying used furniture typically offers significant cost savings compared to purchasing brand-new items.

2. Research Your Style and Needs

Consider the style and functionality you're looking for in your furniture. Are you aiming for a vintage, rustic, modern, or eclectic look? Also, take stock of the specific pieces you need, such as a sofa, dining table, or bookshelves. Having a clear idea of what you're searching for will help you narrow down your options.

If you don't know where to start, mid-century pieces are a great option. Mid-century design is easy to pair with other pieces and design styles. Start small with vintage decorative accessories – for example, trinkets, vases, plates and art – and build your collection from there.


3. Measure. Measure. Measure.

That well known saying, "measure twice, cut once" is extremely relevant when buying second-hand furniture. Often you can't return pre-owned pieces so it's important to make sure they fit the space.

4. Explore Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces are a treasure trove of second-hand furniture in the UK. Websites like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Narchie and eBay are popular platforms where individuals and businesses sell used furniture. You can set alerts for specific designers or styles and filter your searches by location, price range, and condition to find the best deals near you.

When buying online, ask for lots of pictures to check the condition of the item; it's also worth asking if vintage lighting has been PAT tested or needs rewiring as this can be an additional cost.


5. Visit Your Local Charity Shop

Charity and antique shops often have a diverse selection of second-hand furniture. Make sure to visit regularly as their inventory can change frequently. Some UK charities, such as the British Heart Foundation, have specific furniture shops where you can test run your new sofa or armchair before purchasing.

When you find a piece you like, don't rush into buying it. Take the time to thoroughly inspect and test the furniture. Look for signs of wear and tear, check the structural integrity, and ensure that drawers, doors, and moving parts work smoothly.

6. Negotiate

One of the advantages of buying second-hand furniture is that prices are often negotiable. Don't hesitate to negotiate with the seller, especially if you find minor flaws or if you're buying multiple items. Polite haggling can lead to significant savings.


7. Arrange Transportation

Before finalizing your purchase, consider how you'll transport the furniture to your home. If you are collecting yourself, double check the measurements against your car or van and take any tools that may be required for dismantling.

Some sellers may offer delivery services for an additional fee. Alternatively, there are many courier services that will offer quick and competitive delivery.

8. Clean and Revamp

Once you've acquired your second-hand furniture, give it a thorough cleaning and, if necessary, some DIY revamping. YouTube is full of how to videos to update tired items of furniture. Sanding, repainting, or reupholstering can breathe new life into old pieces and make them unique to you and your home.


9. Final tip

Buying second-hand furniture is a sustainable and cost-effective way to furnish your home while adding character and style. With a bit of patience, research, and negotiation skills, you can find beautiful pieces that match your taste and budget. Shop with an open mind and ignore minor imperfections. Focus on the overall construction and craftsmanship of an item and invest in pieces you love, as that way you’re bound to find a way to make them work in your home.

For further advice and support in sourcing second-hand furniture to suit your personal style, please contact hello@thorpepeony.com

We look forward to hearing from you.
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