Online Second-hand Furniture Buying: A Love Affair
I have never been a fan of online shopping. There is quite simply, too much choice. I completely lose track of what I’m after, and quickly get bored of scrolling.
Shopping for me, is much more about meeting friends at the same point in town every time and exploring the shops together. I like the textures, the squeals of delight when you spot something you love in the distance, the holding something up against your body and having a mate say “well, with the right bra!” It’s the stopping and having a coffee break, where you wiggle out of your coat amazed by what a tiring sport shopping can be, as you push bags of new purchases up against your knees under the table. Then, the getting home and trying on your new “bits” and sending photographs in the group chat.
Anyway. I’m distracted. I just really miss shopping.
As I’ve lived in what Instagram now calls, loungewear, for approx. 80% of the last year and having recently moved to a new house, my shopping has turned almost exclusive to homeware. And, it’s mostly been done online. This of course due to the *whispers* current situation.
My site of choice is Facebook Marketplace. Yes, that weird hole on Facebook where sometimes people try to flog the leftovers of their lasagne or a puzzle with only two pieces missing.
Here, I have found a treasure trove of pre-loved signature pieces that really helped me to play to the character of my new home and lay the foundations of the style I was after. My favourites, include: a dark, hardwood handmade double bed with metal lattice detailing (£80 inc. delivery), a large black dresser with gold fixtures (£80), a vintage record cabinet (£70), a wooden breakfast bar with two stools (£20), a wooden shoe cabinet/bench seat (£20) and a dark wood coffee table (£20).
It wasn’t long after this point, that my spare room had become something of a furniture outlet store and my boyfriend put me on a ban of buying anymore until we actually got into our new house. However, I did manage to pick up a farmhouse style wooden side table (£40 inc. delivery), a navy velvet shell chair (£50) and a sweet little occasional table (£10). I was hooked!
However, as I accumulated the county of Leicestershire’s unwanted furniture, I made a few mistakes. Some beginner’s errors if you will. I am a massive advocate for upcycling and reusing furniture, and same goes for the antiques I have dotted around the place. For me, there is nothing nicer than spotting pieces that you know have been loved by generations and will continue to be. I absolutely love looking at the ghosts of style past, and how they can work in contemporary homes.
For this very reason, I wanted to share a few tips for any novice second-hand furniture buyers out there…
1. Be realistic
About your travel, and about the transportation! Make sure you have measured the space where you envisage the item, as well as the space you have in the car/van you’ll be using to collect. Scrape off an inch of whatever you measure, to provide a bit of leeway. Be sure to ask whether the item will be assembled or not, so you know what to expect on pick up.
Ask the seller for size and dimensions, as well as whether they think they item will be possible to lift into a car. It’s always worth asking whether the seller would be able to deliver the item to you for a small fee.
2. Think about your time
Upcycling is great, and everybody loves a project. But, is the item worth it? It’s easy to imagine reinstating life into an old item with a lick of paint, but sometimes projects will require a lot more to make the item both pretty, and durable. What will you need to complete the project and how long will it take?
3. What’s the purpose?
When shopping on Marketplace, I like to have a space in mind. For example, there’s a window space in the spare room that I have no idea what to do with. I’d measure the area and then browse for inspiration. Make sure you have a space and purpose in mind to avoid becoming cluttered.
4. Run your checks
If buying an item from a high street brand, check the RRP and whether it’s still being stocked. It may work out better value to buy new, and protected by warranty. If buying a more unique item that you’ve been drawn towards, try searching the terms as key words and see whether the condition of the item and the price is good in comparison to other similar items on offer.
If you find an item you like, check the seller’s profile. Usually people have more than one item for sale and can offer bundles. This is particularly good for antiques and vintage item sellers. It’s a benefit as you already share the same taste!
Before handing over the cash at transaction, inspect the item and check its functionality and condition.
5. Finally, be safe!
Remember, these sellers are just people behind a Facebook account. So, keep your details safe. They won’t be able to see your profile, but rather a Commerce profile, including things like reviews you leave and receive. You should always be careful with providing your home address for deliveries. As a rule of thumb, I would provide my postcode, and then house number once they messaged to say they were going to leave to deliver.
If possible, have somebody with you when you go to collect or are having a delivery, and ask for items to be placed on doorsteps rather than entering homes and inviting people into yours. Keep social distance and wear a mask to protect yourself and those around you.