How to Rescue Estate Sale Furniture
Dec 29, 2014
1. DIY if it has Good "Bones"
Whether you are a do-it-yourself-er or not, don’t overlook picking up a somewhat
tattered chair, worn couch, or stained dresser at an estate sale because it just might be a
diamond in the rough. Oftentimes the so-called ‘bones’ of furniture made during the first
half of the 20th century are sturdier, and more stylish, than what you can buy new.
Investing in reupholstering, repainting, and refinishing is worth the time, effort and
expense. Not only is the furniture likely to last longer, but, you can customize pieces to
your taste and coordinate them with other pieces in your decor. In the end, you will not
only have all the comforts of home for many years to come, you will get a lot of ‘oohs’
and ‘ahhs’ from visitors because your decorating scheme is unique and unexpected.
2. Reupholster for an Instant Update
On this subject, I speak from experience. When I look around my own place, I
am hard-pressed to find anything that I plucked off the show room floor of a furniture
store. The couch in my den came from a consignment shop because I loved the line of
the couch, it fit perfectly in the space I envisioned, and it provided oodles of seating so it
was totally functional. I had it reupholstered in beige linen because the color and texture
were just what I wanted. The total cost for the couch, fabric and reupholstery added up to
less money than I would spend on a new couch. The catch is that I would have had to
look high and low, and may never have found one that fit as perfectly space or stylewise.
3. Be Flexible - Leave "Room" for Rearranging
We turned our dining room into an office overlooking a patio so we could bring a
little of the outdoors in as we work. While I’m on the subject of the patio, most of the
metal furniture there was salvaged from a home undergoing demolition, and then all
pieces were powder-coated the same color for staying power and design purposes. That
meant that the less frequently used dining room had to be integrated into the living room
and the shape of a table had to be long and narrow to fit. I found one that was ideal in the
back of an antique store. The shop owner regularly used it to throw beer and pretzels on
for parties. After convincing him to sell me the table, I had it refinished, added new and
snazzy lucite chairs which I bought off the internet, and custom upholstered the seats to
match my kidney-shaped mid-century modern couch. Voila! I was on the way to dropdead
4. Get Crafty
I am not crafty, but some people are. Do-it-yourself upholsterers and faux
painters can get away with spending even less than I did on refinishing fabulous pieces.
But for those less talented, a little vision, courage, confidence, and resourcefulness can
go a long way. Inquire through word of mouth and on the internet for the refinishers and
upholsterers in your neighborhood, compare prices and craftsmanship, and think outside
of the Rooms-toGgo box the next time you are browsing an estate sale. And, remember:
every time you rescue and recycle something old, you are doing the environment a big
Buying furniture right off the showroom floor, may appear to be easy and inexpensive,
but there are many reasons to think twice. If your purchases don’t last and need
replacement sooner rather than later, they are, in fact, not a good investment.
In an age when inexpensive furniture also means cheap, buying furniture made during
the first half of the twentieth century that you can reupholster, repaint and refinish
may not only look better, but have a longer life than something you buy today off the