2/08/2010

Deal Finding- How-To


I was browsing on HGTV' Canada's website and came across this article. I thought to myself that maybe not everyone knows the ABC's of finding a fabulous piece of furniture that is classic, well made and best of all green. There are endless possibilities for fantastic furniture at antique, consignment and even junk shops everywhere (although this article specifically addresses consignment shops.) And you don't have to pay a premium price for the supposed privilege of it being brand new.

Sometimes going into a consignment or antique shop is just too overwhelming. You don't know what to look for, or there are just too many options. But, you are passing up a golden opportunity to have a special, well-made piece, that you can customize for your home. Oh, and not everyone and their mother will have the same piece. That's my favorite part.

So, before I get too windy on the plethora of reasons to shop for furniture that has already been loved by a previous owner I will turn it over:

Guide: to Consign-ment shopping

Most people’s homes are decorated in a mix of big box mass-produced furniture, high-quality investments and hand-me-downs or family heirlooms. What if you could get the quality of an investment piece or an antique at mass-produced prices?

Consignment stores are a great option for previously loved furniture that will last a lifetime — and you’ll obviously pay much less than you would if the piece was brand new. Warren Hales is the owner of a consignment store called Around The Block in Toronto. He’s been in the business for 12 years and has a keen eye for what to buy and what will sell. Even HGTV host Sarah Richardson is a fan of Around The Block.

Here are some of Hale’s tips for consignment shopping:

Find a Good Store

Not all consignment stores are created equal. There is a difference between an antique store, consignment store and junk shop. Consignment stores will have a mix of antique, vintage, retro and almost new items and while junk shops often sell electronics and upholstered items, good consignment stores usually won’t. “If we take electronics, we sell them as if they’re broken,” says Hales. And it’s rare to find a couch or armchair worth selling because reupholstering them is so pricey. Warren also won’t sell cheap, mass-produced “disposable” furniture for obvious reasons.

Know What You’re Paying For

Consignment stores pay their consignees 60 per cent of the sale of an item. The store keeps 40 per cent. If prices seem high, keep in mind that you’re not buying disposable furniture. Most of what you’ll find in Around The Block is strong, well-designed and high-quality — and will probably outlive its owner.

“Consider what a piece of furniture is worth based on how long you’ll have it. Over time a disposable piece is more expensive if you have to replace it over and over. An item that costs more originally but will last forever is worth more money,” says Hales.

Take a Close Look

“Just like buying a piece of used clothing or a used car, you want to take a close look at the furniture and make sure it’s going to meet your requirements,” says Hales. But he warns “no piece of furniture that’s used is going to be perfect.” There are going to be little scratches and imperfections but Hales tries not to take items that are irreparable and he points out any problems on the price tag, for instance a small rip in a rug. A good store won’t take stained rugs but you should expect to have rugs cleaned before putting them in your home.

Ask the people at the store to turn the piece around. Open drawers and bring a tape measure. “The last thing you want to do is get home and go, ‘there’s no insides to the drawers,’” says Hales. Know what you want to use the piece for and make sure it’s going to be big enough. For instance an armoire has to be 21” deep to fit a hanger.

A Special Note About Chairs

If you like the shape of a chair but not the upholstery or finish, get it slip covered — although to reupholster a dining chair can be quite simple. Hales says that often the top four screws on a chair will pop out and the fabric can be easily replaced.

To test the sturdiness of a dining chair, put your knee on it grab the back and wiggle. No matter how good a chair is at some point it will loosen and that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad chair but if you want a chair tightened it will cost you.

Decor Decisions

Hales says: “From a decorating point of view, what I tell people is ‘unless you love the piece, think about it. And if you really, really love it chances are it’s going to go with the other things you have because you love them.’”

By: Vanessa Grant


1 comment:

gilstrapdesigns said...

Thank you for the great tips. I love going to consignment stores, junk shops, vintage shops there is really a difference in the quality of the furniture and everything is not cookie cutter looking but you do have to really look at every detail before you purchase it. I've learned that through experience especially when I'm purchasing vintage jewelry to revamp and make into something else. I'm going to buy me a little magnifiying glass so that I can look at the small detail of things but I love it. I rather go to places like that than stores of shops with a lot of new stuff.

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