Choosing the Right Place for Second Hand Furniture

Second Hand Furniture

These days second hand furniture shops are a dime a dozen, and – as you probably already know – some are better than others. So how do you weed out the good from the bad without wasting time or money?

Yelp and Google+

This should go without saying, but in the social age your best resource for any kind of information is other people. Not everyone is looking for the same thing in a second hand furniture store, though, so make sure to read complaints if there’s a bad rating.

Think about Your Needs

Second Hand Vintage Furniture

First off, come into things knowing what you’re looking for. Are you looking to save money on so-so pieces? Is there a specific aesthetic you’re after? Are you more interested in unique retro looks or quality contemporary? A fixer-upper or something ready to go?

Do Your Research

Aside from reviews, it could save you a lot of time to do your due diligence and head to stores’ websites first. This should give you a feel for their inventory (if they show it), their pricing (is it upscale vintage or low-end thrift?), and their stock (boutique with daily changeover vs. giant warehouse).

Check Out Hotel Liquidations

Hotel Liquidation Showroom

This might surprise you, but hotel liquidations businesses can be incredible places to look for second hand furniture. Even if you’re not buying bulk orders to fill a hotel, if they have a show room you can often buy individual pieces at closeout and bulk prices.

Photo Credits (from top): more, Footprints in the Sand Weddings, and Oak Online

How to Clean Second Hand Furniture Fabrics Painlessly

Stained Couch

As you may have seen in our post on how to change furniture upholstery, the process can be kind of a literal pain in the butt (make sure you collect all the old staples from that couch!). But, refreshing that old second hand furniture doesn’t have to be.

Here’s an exhaustive list of possible solutions for revamping that upholstery so you don’t have to bother with removing it at all!

Fight the Urge

Your first impulse will probably be to start soaking the fabric up with water. But as you’ll see in the next section, that could do more harm than good.

Break the Code

First off, check for a tag with a one or two letter code on it. Some make sense, others less so. If you see a W, use a water-based solution. S, for some reason, means opt for something without water, like dry cleaning. WS as you might guess means either, and X means STOP RIGHT THERE and call a pro.

Always the First Step

Second Hand Furniture Vacuum

No matter what you’re going to do to clean up that anonymous second hand furniture stain, vacuum thoroughly. Not just the usual nooks and crannies, but vacuum the individual problem spots hard for several minutes.

Run Down the List

If there is no tag – hopefully the used furniture store you got it from can tell you more about it, and if not, hopefully you didn’t pay so much that you’re afraid to experiment on it… When using a cleaning product, be sure to always first read the upholstery cleaning bottle’s instructions.

Here’s a quick list of what you can try from there:

  • Try rubbing the stain with a water-free hand cleaner, letting it sit for a few minutes, then washing it out
  • Blot the fabric with dry cleaning solvent and let it air dry
  • Soak the fabric in cold, cold water for about half an hour
  • Dilute a cup of water with a tablespoon each of detergent and either vinegar or ammonia and spritz it on
  • Sprinkle some baking soda on and let it sit for a couple hours to draw out smells, then brush and wash it out
  • Soak the fabric in alcohol
  • Scrub cold water and minimal dish soap into problem areas

If any single one of these works, then leave it at that so you don’t risk damaging the fabric. Remember that different chemicals can have different effects on different fabrics, so there’s going to be more risk the more things you try.

But hey, although it takes some work and effort you will be certain your improved second hand furniture was worth the time!

Used Furniture Store Clean Couch

Photo Credits (from top): home made mimi, Simple Upholstery Care, and Servicemaster of Charleston

#RenewIt Tips for Revamping Used Office Chairs

Used Office Chair

Buying second hand furniture is always a tricky art. This can be especially true for used office chairs, since they have so many components that could be shoddy: wheels, springs, gears, levers, sprockets, gadgets, gizmos… there’s a lot to look out for!

Here are some simple upgrades to keep your new used office chair in business.

Lube It Up

Metal Gears with Lubricant

One of the unique components of office chairs is that they use several metal mechanisms, which can gunk up over time. If you can, do some basic disassembly where you see some screws and bolts, then lube up anywhere you see one metal piece that has to move against another.

Look out for spots like springs and anywhere there’s a need to rotate on an axis. Applying a bit of standard WD-40 should help, then wipe clean and reassemble to keep it reclining or adjusting smoothly.

Upgrade That Upholstery

Upholstery for Second Hand Furniture

One of the cool things about second hand furniture is that you can find some quality-built retro pieces, instead of opting for a cheaply assembled one that starts tearing or falling apart within a year.

The problem with age, though, is, well, age. The fabric on a vintage piece might be wilting, faded, smelly, or all of the above. Unfortunately that can be hard to clean, but check out our detailed post on how to reupholster furniture if it’s too far gone to save!

Tag It

When the color of the metal and plastic starts to tarnish, fade, or scuff, it’s time to make like a graffiti artist. If you can, disassemble to remove the sections with fabric (if you can’t, at least cover it tightly with plastic).

Then pick up a can of something bold that complements the cushion (especially if you’re redoing the fabric as well), shake it up, take it outside, and get to spraying!

Photo Credits (from top): CB2, Lin Yangchen, and Knoll

How Hotel Furniture Companies Can Help Assisted Living Facilities

Hotel Motel Supply for Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities do an incredibly important job for a huge range of people in this country: not just the people who stay there, but their families, as well. Anything that helps these facilities helps millions of people, as well, and you may be surprised to know that hotel furniture companies can play a part in that.

Furniture resellers tend to gear their business toward hotel and motel supply, so it can be easy to let similar enterprises like assisted living slip through the cracks. In essence, these industries have nearly the same needs: high-quality comfort supplies and home goods, and lots of them.

Assisted Living Hotel Motel Supply

For assisted living facilities, it can be even more important to save money without sacrificing quality. Hotel furniture companies can offer nearly everything they need, from furniture to bedding to décor. Anything that helps residents feel at home in a place that may be unfamiliar.

Furniture resellers uniquely offer the opportunity to get large volumes of top-notch pieces at affordable prices, allowing assisted care institutions to stock their rooms with just the right pieces without going over budget.

Furniture Resellers for Assisted Living

No matter what your hospitality need, be sure to look for your local hotel furniture company service to help fill your rooms and serve your residents with the comfort and care they deserve!

Photo Credits (from top): Lenity Architecture, Scott Hargis, and Kolay Flooring

Hotel Surplus Stores: The Secret to Furnishing Startup Hotels

Hotel Startup

Starting a new hotel business can seem like a huge, daunting undertaking, but rest assured that there are whole industries in place specifically geared toward helping you do just that. Hotel surplus stores will be one of your best friends throughout this process!

Second hand furniture is one of the top secrets of successful hotel startups, and hotel surplus stores have it in spades. The best thing about buying used from these places isn’t just that it’s cheaper than buying used, but that often you can get great deals on pieces from high-end hotels.

Hotel Surplus Showroom

Most of the biggest names will cycle through their furniture every few years. When you’re looking at hundreds – or thousands – of hotels in an area, you’re looking at a lot of turnover. That means newcomer businesses like yours can take advantage of top-quality looks at used furniture prices.

So, if you’re breaking into the hotel/motel world and looking to crack the market with a new business, sometimes the best way to start can be going old. With the kind of volume of second hand furniture that a good hotel surplus store is moving, though, don’t expect the best pieces to last for long!

Second Hand Furniture

Photo Credits (from top): CheapTickets, Furniture Barn, and Sofa Rec

Why Slow Seasons Are Peak Times for Hotel Furniture Restoration

Upscale Hotel at Night

Just like temperatures, every hotel has its highs and lows in bookings – which, incidentally, often coincide with the weather.

So what do you do about the decreased revenues during the lows? Obviously you do what you can to bring in customers, everything from decreased rates to enticing packages, but this is also a great opportunity to poise your property for peak season success with furniture restoration.

Empty Fancy Hotel Room

Start by assessing when it is that your business is the slowest. You probably already know, but generally this coincides with the opposite of your location’s weather: hot locales are busier in the cold seasons, cold locales in the warmer ones. Even here in Miami, where it’s close to inferno most of the year, peak season is still fall through winter.

Hotel liquidations businesses know this, so start looking for new pieces early on for the best deals. This is a great time to find high-end furniture from up-scale hotels wrapping up their busy seasons by moving out the old and bringing in new pieces.

Sometimes these pieces are good-to-go, but sometimes they could use some work. Hotel furniture restoration can be well worth the investment, though, whether you’re improving your own stock or revamping used stock to fit your property’s aesthetics.

Hotel Liquidations Pool

Taking these few months of lower occupancy as a chance to get an edge on your competition can be crucial in major tourist destinations. So when the bookings go down, head into the hotel liquidations shops and start working on hotel furniture restoration projects to take advantage!

Photo Credits (from top): Top 10 Hotel Booking Sites, Daily Mail, and EPIC Hotel

A Quick Guide for How to Remove Upholstery on Old Furniture

Antique Couch Upholstery

After long enough, even the most elegant, best loved upholstery can wear out. Whether years of heavy use, a change of aesthetics, or an unfortunate incident with the family pet have made removing upholstery a necessity, you’ll be glad to know the process is actually fairly simple.

First you’ll need the right tools. Ideally that’s a dedicated staple puller (tool inventors weren’t always the most creative namers). However, in a pinch, you could use really any thin metal piece, like an ice pick or flathead screwdriver.

Staple Puller

Pliers should come in handy as well – both for pulling out stubborn staples and for getting the job started. Use the pliers to rip up the trimming, and then keep going until you’ve got it all off and made a nice mess of things, possibly including your fingers.

From there, try pulling up the fabric in a continuous piece if the staples allow you to have your way with it. It’s a good idea to keep this to base new fabric on so you don’t have to make a load of measurements or over-purchase.

Reupholstered Couch

The staples are the tedious part. You might be able to alternate between ripping up the upholstery and plucking the metal out, or you may have to do one after the other. Either way, always be careful – you’re dealing with some old, sharp metal that could be rusted. Keep those eyes and hands safe!

Photo Credits (from top): RedsZone, my DIY adventures, and Ideal Upholstery

Buying Used Furniture for Restoration: Shellac vs. Stain vs. Varnish

Finished Wooden Desk

Life is full of possibilities. Buying used furniture is no exception, especially when you’re doing it as a restoration or upcycle project.

It can be hard enough finding just the right piece for a space, but factor in all the options out there for customizing it and you’ve got seemingly unlimited options. This quick guide to three of the most common wood finishes should help you get to the right look and texture for you.


You might be surprised to know that this finish actually comes from the resin produced by an insect (think about that the next time you drop a chip on a shiny table surface).

That said, shellac can be, in a literal way, an all-natural option. This is versatile stuff, capable of being used as a primer, sealant, and finish all in one. Shellac is renowned for being durable and protective, and even comes in an array of colors that leave a high-gloss look.


Treated Wooden Table

One of the big benefits of stain is that it can be used on difficult woods like cherry that tend to resist soaking up finishes.

Stains are easy to apply and can either enhance the wood’s natural look or alter it slightly (this can also depend on the type of wood – lighter-density woods like pine will soak up and be affected much more). However, to lock the look in you’ll also need a finish.


This can be where varnish comes in. The great thing about varnish is that it doesn’t provide much of its own look, so if you have natural wood or a stain that you love but need to keep it protected, varnish is your bet.

It also comes in a variety of gloss levels, ranging from “shiny” to “flat,” depending on what you want your wood to look like.

Wood Varnish Application

Which to Choose When Buying Used Furniture

In the end, which one(s) you need is dependent on the look and function you want and even the condition your used furniture piece is in (some may need more help than others). Stain and varnish are the most customizable, while shellac is in some ways more streamlined.

Photo Credits (from top): Pallet Furniture DIY, Daniel Borio, and DIY Network

Today’s Top Trend for Used Furniture Buyers?

Sleeper Couch

There’s an art to following furniture trends – and another one entirely to following used furniture trends. The savviest used furniture buyers know how to spot that sweet spot where gently used pieces are coming back into circulation but are still very much in style.

So, what’s one piece of furniture that makes that list right now?

Sleeper Sofa

Thanks to a recent upsurge in designer attention, sleeper couches provide a great blend of functionality, comfort, and style. Once a staple of drab, suburban living rooms, these are now more elegant than ever.

The strength of a sleeper couch is its versatility. As the name suggests, it supplies a space for sprawling out comfortably without taking up all the space of a bed or contributing the slightly less fashionable statement a futon makes.

Because these pieces are focused on surface space, they’re often more open and minimally constructed than standard couches, often using only one narrow cushion.

Today, used furniture buyers can often find a larger-than-ever array of sleeper couches featuring chic colors and construction.

Chic Sleeper Sofa

Photo Credits (from top): CB2, CB2, and CB2

4 Tips for Buying Second Hand Furniture

Second Hand Furniture

It’s no secret that furniture can be expensive. With many options for quality chairs, tables, couches, etc. going for a minimum of 3 figures, filling your spaces with brand new furniture can really start racking up.

The best alternative? Second hand furniture comes with multiple benefits. Not only is it (obviously) generally much cheaper than new, but it can also provide you some really interesting pieces you wouldn’t find in a standard showroom. Here’s what to look out for before you hit the yard sales, though.

Tag? Label? Engraving?

Second Hand Wooden Table

You would be surprised at how often people selling used furniture don’t know what they’re marking down to $10. Look over all the undersides and backsides for original tags, brand labels, or engravings that show manufacturers and dates, and follow up with some research if you find something.

Rule of thumb: if it’s a person’s name you’ve never heard of or any combinations of two names with “&” in the middle, that’s probably a good sign.

Try Before You Buy

The old sales adage holds especially true for buying second hand furniture. Depending on your level of craftiness or budget for restoring old pieces, you could be looking at more work to fix something up than you’re willing to put in. Check for lumpy cushions, unstable weight support, and excessive shakiness or creaking.

Give It a Smell

Cat on a Couch

That’s right – never buy it before you smell it. Even if you’re planning to reupholster a piece, you could be buying cushions or even wood with deep-soaked scents, which can be extremely difficult to get out.

Keep Measurements Handy

Before you even start shopping, be sure to keep a list written down of the maximum measurements you can work with. You don’t want to be stuck with an incredible sofa that mysteriously takes up half of your living room. Everything seems to magically look smaller before you bring it home.

Photo Credits (from top): DIY Life, ONEHOWTO, and Luxury Brand Custom Wood