What to look out for when buying pre-owned furniture

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What to look out for when buying pre-owned furniture

Posted on: 
23rd August 2021

If you’re stretching your money as far as you can, a treasure hunter or one for reducing your impact on the planet, you may be considering buying second-hand furniture.

Whilst buying preloved has its benefits, it can also have its pitfalls if you don’t plan ahead. We’ve put together some top tips for charity shop hopping on what to look for when you’re furnishing your home. 

  1. Know your budget 

We know that feeling, you fall in love with something but it’s just a bit more than you planned to spend. However, are you really saving money if you’re spending more than you set aside?

If you go in with a clear budget in mind, that also includes transportation, any mends and improvements (more on this later) you won’t feel disappointed when you’re home.

Remember, it’s only a bargain if it’s less than you planned to spend! 

  • Measurements 

It sounds obvious but measuring (and measuring again to check!) will save you a headache in the long run.

Of course you need to measure the space the furniture will be fitting into, but also measure spaces the piece will be expected to move through too! Doorways, hallways, stairways and even the transport from A to B will save red faces all around. 

  • What will it cost to “make good”?

If you’re willing to put in some work, you could potentially pick up a real diamond in the rough. Lots of upholstered furniture can do with a little TLC, some spot cleaning, buffing of wood and easy sewing jobs but some might need more.

It’s worth looking up some professional services and working out how much you are willing to allocate you budget to replacing parts, dry cleaning, professional alterations etc. 

  • Checking safety labels 

Most if not all reputable shops will not sell you furniture without the correct fire safety labels, but it’s always worth checking these are present and querying with staff if you can’t find them. But what are they for?

The Reuse Network have put together an easy to understand guide here but the gist is that; "Permanent fire safety labels are legally required on upholstered items and furnishing such as a sofa, with the intention of letting people know that the item complies with British Fire Safety Regulations.

Many upholstered items contain foams, fillings and other materials, that could potentially be flammable and because of this, items must have set levels of fire resistance determined through a series of flammability tests.”

  • Transport home

You found the piece, you’ve fallen in love, you’ve paid the shop but how are you getting it home? A few shops will let you pay a bit extra to have your new furniture delivered (and this should be factored into your budget!) but if not, you will need to work out how to get it back to your place. There are plenty of websites that offer a “man with van” service that charge by the hour, you can also ask friends and family but remember, measure the furniture and measure the transport before committing. 

  • Try it out

Again, it sounds obvious but take a chair. Whilst the furniture might look good, fit the space and doesn’t need too much work to update, it might actually not feel comfortable to you. Like with a mattress, chairs and sofas have different levels of softness, different levels of depth, height and all sorts of things. Sit down, lie down, tuck your legs under and decide if head, heart and your bum all agree! 

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