One of the most exciting parts of moving to a new home is furnishing it the way you want it. However, the process tends to be very expensive, and the design of your dream home may require quite a bit of alteration. Replacing a single piece of furniture can result in a very expensive bill. Luckily, local goodwill probably has you covered with a store full of great, cheap furniture ripe for the picking.
If you’re into thrift, the treasures hidden in the Goodwill furniture aisle probably won’t surprise you. If you haven’t entered the world of savings yet, don’t be intimidated. Thrift stores often carry an association with being low-quality or sloppy, usually due to their minimalist approach to displaying merchandise, notes Echo Media. In fact, if you know what to look for and where to look for it, you can find incredibly high-quality items for a fraction of the cost because they will be like new—furniture included.
1. Know what you’re looking for
Even the most organized thrift store can get overwhelmed pretty quickly. That’s why Butterfly House recommends limiting only what you need—don’t let a fancy bar cart or rows of armchairs distract you if all you need is a dining table.
2. Know where to look
It can be difficult to know your local Goodwill layout. For this reason, 2nd Ave. Value Stores recommend going on a weekday when it’s less crowded. Take a walk around the store to see where things are and don’t be afraid to search the funky aisles for small pieces of furniture.
3. Discover other good intentions
One of the simultaneous best and worst parts about saving is that no two types of goodwill are the same. If you are dissatisfied with what you find at your first goodwill, don’t lose hope. Regroup and explore other stores around. Curbed recommends looking for more out-of-the-way goodwill, which you may be less picky about.
4. Don’t set your expectations too high
It is very rare to find such a quality piece of furniture in perfect condition at Goodwill. While you can find high-quality, durable pieces, set realistic expectations for your savings trip—you might have to settle for a cabinet with a wonky handle, or a chair with ripped upholstery (via Life Storage).
5. Avoid low-quality materials
You should not waste time examining or considering a low-quality piece of furniture. For wood or veneer furniture, this includes fiberboard, particleboard and plywood by Gibson Brothers Furniture. For upholstered furniture, check the density and comfort of the fabric.
6. Avoid bad construction
Gibson Brothers Furniture also recommends keeping an eye out for bad construction. Consider why the item was in the thrift store in the first place—a table made of high-quality wood is useless if it falls apart after one use. If you can see visible nails, staples, or glue, or if the furniture feels wobbly to the touch, skip it.
7. Look for quality materials
On the other hand, knowing what kind of furniture you’re looking for makes the Goodwill journey much easier. Inclusive Design Group says it is looking for pieces of solid hardwood with screwed, butted, or mortise and tenon joints. It should also be strong and not wobbly. Look for thick, densely padded foam on upholstered furniture.
8. Test drawers and doors
Another check of the quality and functionality Inclusive Design Group recommends testing any doors, handles and drawers. A locker or desk might look great, but there’s no point in taking it home if you can’t use it.
9. Look inside
While you’re examining the functionality of any drawers or cabinets, take a second to look inside. Duct Tape and Denim recommend going beyond giving the interior of any furniture a quick sniff (especially when it comes to cigarette smoke), but at least looking for mold, mildew, or other significant damage.
10. Look for scratches and dents
In a similar vein, Duct Tape and Denim stress the importance of looking for signs of damage—dents, dents, dents, breakage, staining, etc. deal for you. However, it can also indicate a poor quality piece of furniture.
11. Get creative
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, consider getting a little creative. Rocket Homes offers the example of converting a ladder into a shelf, but the options are endless—especially for decorative items. Use a vase as a utensil holder or vice versa, or a dining table as a desk.
12. Looking in the face
While excessive damage is a red flag, don’t write off a perfectly good piece of furniture because of a single knock, or because it’s not the ideal finish or color of the wood. Instead, Life Storage says to do some simple furniture flipping, like painting the dresser, replacing wonky drawer knobs, and so on.
13. Don’t get carried away
On the other hand, don’t dive headfirst into a big, boring shift if you’re not a well-versed flapper, Duct Tape and Denim warn. Things like reupholstering, sanding carved wood, or refinishing wood are advanced, advanced tasks, so start small with a simple coat of paint.
14. Look for discounts
On top of Goodwill’s already low prices, they also offer discounts. It’ll range from location to location, with some places offering select discount days, while others, like Goodwill Ohio, feature Colors of the Week, where clothing featured in certain colors is 50 percent off. Check with your local Goodwill for more furniture savings.
15. Check out Owlette’s Good Intentions
If you’re out of luck at the local Goodwill and are feeling a little spunky, consider checking out the Goodwill Outlet, also known as the Chests. As Dina’s Days explains, the outlets are full of items that can’t be sold in the main store, and you’re charged by the total weight. They can be tough, so be prepared.