26 Replies Latest reply: Nov 8, 2012 7:38 AM by johnsee RSS

    Buying New furniture vs used

    New Member

      We own 3 homes in Gulf Shore, AL area.  When we bought them, the majority were furnished, but we did have to pick up pieces of furniture here and there.  My question:  when replacing furniture, I think we should buy new so it will look nice and (hopefully) last longer.  My husband thinks we should buy good, used furniture (I'm talking couches, tables, chairs from thrift stores and consignment stores) since it will get some abuse from renters.  What is the concensus here?? thanks

        • Buying New furniture vs used
          New Member

          I think this depends on how much time you have.  A lot of money can be saved by purchasing good quality used items but it isn't always possible to find what you need when you need it. I always try to buy used first though. 

          • Buying New furniture vs used
            sophie Senior Contributor

            I wanted a Pottery Barn Slipcovered sofa for one of my homes but I couldn't afford to buy brand new.  They run about $2,000 from the store.  I looked for months and found one on Craisglist for $300.  It was barely used but this sofa is 10 times better than any sofa I could buy brand new and will last much longer than a new one. 


            New isn't necessarily better when it comes to quality and workmanship.  There have been a few times that I have purchased brand new, but most of the time it isn't worth it.  I just purchased an expensive upholstered table/trunk from Ballard Designs ($400.00).  I waited for a year to buy it after contemplating it and wondering if I should spend that amount of money.  Well, I did and the first people that stayed there ruined the entire top by dumping alcohol on it and it bleached it beyond repair.  I was heart-broken.


            I would much rather have damage to my "used" furniture instead of something I bought brand new.

            • Re: Buying New furniture vs used
              New Member

              Hi Janet,


              I put my house into rental service in 2008, and I needed to both furnish quickly and to create a somewhat cohesive look (bright, bold colors) so I elected to purchase much of my furnishings new and threw in some older pieces that I happened to own.  This will be my 4th rental season, and so far, everything has worn exceedingly well, except one sofa (bad fabric, and it was even a Sunbrella brand fabric, started pilling the first year!).


              Property ID# 194038


              I allow dogs in my rental, so needless to say, the furniture probably does get alot of use, but so far (knock wood), it's lasted well.  My preference was aesthetics & speed of completion vs. costs at the time. I bought quality pieces and they're lasting just fine. As I replace items, I'll likely still go with new as I simply do not have the time to shop thrift stores for the right item that fits the decor.

              • Re: Buying New furniture vs used

                We generally do both. For beds we always buy new since we can get good deals when you buy more then 1 set of beds. Plus they throw in free delivery.  For couches we also buy new usually leather since it's easier to clean cloth.


                However for dining room table/chairs, dresser, chests, etc we buy used. There is a great place near us were we buy all our used items. There are Ethan Allen dressers for less then $300 where it would retail new for $900. I personally like the old antique items for dressers and tables. It gives it character. It has to be in good to great shape though.  I guess I could buy a new antique dresser but I rather use the difference I saved into something else.

                  • Buying New furniture vs used
                    amyg Active Contributor

                    I think the case for buying used vs. new furniture lies strongly in how well you can make the used furniture integrate with your other furnishings.  I know some people who are really good at that and their places have this custom but comfortable look.  If you don't have an interior design bone in your body, I'd probably pass on the used route.


                    The difficulty in buying used items--like beds and upholstered furniture--is that these get used pretty hard.  Sometimes you get lucky and find used furniture that's barely that--maybe it was in a model home or someone's spare bedroom that rarely saw guests.  In those cases, you have a great buying opportunity. 


                    Personally, I prefer to buy new when it comes to sleeper sofas and beds because I know I am maintaining them from new.  I don't want any hidden surprises.  But buying used "hard goods" like tables, chairs, coffee tables, dressers, etc. is a fantastic way to save up to half or more off retail.  Another option is buying low cost, build-it-yourself furniture like Ikea.  I've had good success with Ikea for our cabins. 


                    If you have new furniture or old furniture you've restored, I highly recommend using custom glass tops to protect the finish.  We have them in two of our cabins and those pieces look almost new.  The cost is nominal and can extend the life of your table tops.

                      • Buying New furniture vs used
                        New Member


                          When we went to furnish our homes in 2003 i went to Lazy Boy and talked to a manager and told him all i was going to need. I can't believe the break in the cost he gave us. We also have a store called Dining Room Outlet, they did the same. We had Bed bath and Beyond at that time and i asked what they could do for us since i was going to need bedding and bath for 6 bedrooms and 8 baths. They were more then generous with their discounts. For coffee tables and end tables we bought unfinished and stained them ourself. Peope put there feet up and never use a coaster so they are easy to wipe a stain on or sand down scratches to look new.

                          Guests enjoy quality and it keeps them coming back.

                        • Buying New furniture vs used
                          New Member

                          I have to recommend against buying anything Ikea unless you are talking about their solid wood items, and even then things that won't see that much use.  Ikea pressboard falls apart amazingly quickly and easily, to the point where it's a safety risk for guests. 

                      • Buying New furniture vs used
                        New Member

                        For us we bought new, high quality pieces. The guests we have had have treated all of our items with tremendous care even after 4 years. None of the pieces look the least bit worn. The money we spent was exceedingly worthwhile as our home shows spectacularly well for the area and we have guests who notice,appreciate it and give very positive reviews on it. I have guests who come back specifically for our couch, an American Leather King size pull out sofa. That is all I will ever buy for the place!

                        • Buying New furniture vs used
                          New Member

                          I think that used furniture is fine, though I do agree with those who say that bedding must be new. The more important point is to make the unit look cohesive. Avoid AT ALL COSTS the urge to fill it with trinkets and junk collected from vacations and elsewhere. If you won't put something in your own house don't put it in the rental. Keep the look simple, clean and tasteful, keeping in mind that a touch of "vacation tacky" is OK. Rick Anderson #233591

                          • Buying New furniture vs used
                            stephanie.warricksprague New Member

                            My vote is for the used furniture.  One reason not already mentioned, is to create a more lived in feel, with a regional distintion.  The temptation with new furniture to put together a room, can be very "matchy".  As a guest, I think the location should drive the furnishings.  A beach home should feel different than an urban apartment, etc.  I guess the best of both worlds is locally made too, but that is a lot to ask for, as vacationeers are ******* most everything.  Quality is important.  Don't forget to furnish you walls!  Again, used or local talent is great to cover those bare walls.

                              • Buying New furniture vs used
                                New Member



                                I think your furniture choices also depend on the kind of guests you have.  We initially had a lot of couples renting our place, but then we started having lots of families with young children.


                                The little ones make little messes, so I've learned the hard way that it does not pay off for us to have high quality fabrics and furniture.  Luckily, the fabrics I bought (curtains, pillow, and futon-sofa covers) are all washable, but I spend a lot more time washing them than if they were less delicate fabrics.  We have bought high quality used furniture and it seems the best bet for the guests we tend to have, in that it is a lot more affordable but still pretty durable. I do make sure I repair any and all dings in the furniture and everything is very very clean!  And I do spend a little bit more making sure I replace sheets and towels often so they look and feel new.




                              • Buying New furniture vs used
                                New Member

                                We own a business in two 100+ year old homes. One was restored by a contractor to historical society specifications. A lot of new furniture has stain resistent (we call it guest resistent) fabric. We do, however, do a lot of shopping at charity shops, flea markets, etc. for older furniture. There are up and down sides. The up: fits in with the decor and often well made, the down: must be cleaned or refinished and often one of a kind (hard to replace easily). It depends on your taste, the look of property and your budget.

                                • Buying New furniture vs used
                                  New Member

                                  Just a note on used items.  My daughter moved to Georgia last year and found a set of bunkbeds with mattresses for her kids.  A few months later they had a huge infestation of bed bugs that were traced to the bunkbeds.  It took them 3 months and over 2,000. to remove them.  I never even thought about bugs on used furniture before  but apparently they can hide away in anything from mattresses to picture frames and stay there for longer than 6 months with no feeding! She was warned of buying anything used and to not store items in public storage outlets unless they treat the areas after each person leaves.  Creepy but now I won't let used items in our rentals or house.

                                    • Buying New furniture vs used
                                      New Member

                                      As a renter:

                                      OMG, used beds ..ok,I pray the mattress are not used, Yikes.

                                      Most places I have rented from have nice things
                                      and on occassions would say "I would  love to have a piece like that.)



                                      Important to me, good living area furniture ( couch,nothing worse than a sagging sofa) and a good mattress.

                                      As far as other items , tables, benches,bar stools, bedroom furniture, I think its a great Idea buying used and have seen some unique items painted or stained.

                                        • Buying New furniture vs used
                                          sophie Senior Contributor

                                          **OMG, used beds ..ok,I pray the mattress are not used, Yikes.**


                                          What's the difference between buying a "new" used mattress from someone that has been using it in their guest room for 2 years with a minimal amount of people sleeping on it vs. buying a new bed from a mattress store, putting it in your rental and having 3 different couples sleep on it every week for 50 weeks out of the year? That is over 400 different people sleeping on the mattress over the course of 1 year.


                                          Just playing devils advocate because within 1 week your mattress isn't "new" anymore. You can find amazing deals on like new "used" mattresses on CL or in your local newspaper that are a fraction of the cost of a brand new mattress.  Mattresses are alot like cars, as soon as you bring them home, they loose 30% of their value.


                                          As to the bedbugs, with 400 people sleeping on the mattress in one year, one of them could easily bring in bb's without your consent or knowledge.

                                            • Buying New furniture vs used
                                              New Member

                                              When I say buyjing a used mattress, Yikes
                                              I was thinking more of buying used  from someone you dont know or know who else has owned it  I would not buy a used mattress for myself or for a guest room unless it was my sisters or someone I know pretty well. I would not expect guest to sleep on something I would not sleep on myself
                                              You can find good new mattress's on C  list as well.In retro, I would hope that the property owner would have good judgement on such items.

                                                • Buying New furniture vs used
                                                  New Member

                                                  There are bedbug and allergen blocking encasements for mattresses for these reasons.  (Not to mention they help with the much more common occurrence of staining.)


                                                  We have lots of people stay with us that we don't know.  Upscale guests can bring them along, too, unknowingly.  Basically I agree with Sophie - it doesn't matter where you get your mattress, it's going to be very used by lots of people you don't know in a very short amount of time.

                                          • Re: Buying New furniture vs used
                                            swiss-house Contributor

                                            The biggest difference (besides budget) is how much time you want / have to invest.


                                            If you have the time, and a strong back and a trailer to bring things home on, CraigsList is the best thing to come along since the invention of sliced bread.  But you have to make calls, visit other people's houses, get discouraged over stuff that isn't nearly as nice as described, and lastly, you have to find a way to get it out of their house, to your rental, and moved in to the right room. 


                                            Weigh that against the value of shopping in a clean store, picking out nice, color-coordinated, strong furniture, and having SOMEONE ELSE handle moving it to and into your rental house.  It's more of a value than you might have allowed for in your figuring of the "cost".


                                            And finally, look at the compromise in the middle - Ikea or similar mass-market U-assemble furniture.  It's far more sturdy than you might think, and is usually designed with simple, easy to clean lines (less dusting, places for spilled soda to accumulate) and often has easy to clean / replace slipcovers.  Their beds are super easy to assemble and the mattresses are high quality (thick foam is actually more comfortable than many spring mattresses and is less bed-bug inviting).


                                            For us, we started by moving our still-usable-but-older stuff out of our basement media room.  We picked up a sofa-bed and a rear-projection TV from Craigslist.  We built two Ikea beds and got a pair for twins from Salvation Army (with certified bed-bug free mattresses and box springs).   That got us going for our first month.  Thank goodness for Surefit slip covers - < http://www.surefit.net/ > - they turned a dog of a sofa into something that looks brand new.


                                            Then we got really lucky - We discovered foreclosure sales.  With other vacation rental homes in the area, it is inevitable that some are going to be foreclosed on.  About once a month we find a listing on CL or in the local garage sales listings of the newspaper - "Whole House for Sale - everything to the bare walls!"  The owner just wants to get whatever they can out of what's left of the house, and since they often don't live nearby it's not like they want to keep the prime pieces of furniture for themselves - they just want it out of the house before the bank takes it.


                                            We completely redid our rental home by buying nearly everything in someone else's foreclosed rental house.  In fact, we upgraded a number of things in our own house: Brand new Washer and Dryer for $300, Ethan Allen bedroom set for $450, Another solid wood bedroom set for $500 - both with mattresses and everything.  Big screen TVs and DVD palyers for $300 together.  We have a 6X8 trailer and made trips back and forth for a whole day.  Thank goodness we have a college age son and my wife and I grew up on farms - we did a lot of lifting and twisting that day!


                                            For many people, just buying new is really the best way to go - The hassle of tracking down good used furniture and then getting it home and moved inside is just not worth it unless you have the time, equipment, and a strong back.


                                            Building your own from kits like Ikea can save you a good bit of money and results in easy to maintain furniture, but you still need to transport those heavy packs home and spend the time assembling it.


                                            But if you're lucky, you can find a foreclosure like we did.  And if time allows, you may even be able to hire a "2 guys and a van" kind of moving service to get it home. 


                                            BTW - bedbugs? Yes, I'm kinda worried about what might be in a used piece of furniture.  But since 90% of our guests come from urban areas, I'm more concerned about what a guest will bring with them than what might be in something that has been in a local family's home for 10 years.


                                            Tom C.



                                            Pocono Swiss House

                                            Promote Your Page Too

                                            • Re: Buying New furniture vs used

                                              re: the Bedbug issue - we've used a local furniture/rug cleaning service for several years.  They claim their treatment prevents Bedbugs, but to my knowledge it doesn't destroy them.  We've been pretty lucky, purchasing the mattresses a few years ago from a furniture store basement sale, and the couch from someone we knew who was updating. 


                                              We have the furniture cleaned pre-season and then again mid-season, and yet again at the end of the season.  It probably is overkill, but, as was pointed out, one should probably be more concerned with what guests bring in than what might be in there already.


                                              We also have a contract with an exterminator, who gives the house a good going over twice in the spring, and monthly (on the exterior) during the summer months, and again, once at the end of the season.  All told, it's about $200/yr, and a good investment to ensure that there aren't insect/rodent problems encountered by guests (or owners!) during the season....


                                              We bought most of our furniture at local consignment stores and did a pretty thorough scrubbing before bringing the items into the house, so we're not concerned about them...


                                              IKEA:  Most of our kitchen stuff came from there, as did a few small tables, and some decorative items, such as colored grass, feathers, and a couple of mirrors.  It's amazing what a little imagination can produce!


                                              Jim Van

                                              Avondale Properties


                                              • Buying New furniture vs used
                                                New Member

                                                We own a rental property overseas, so for us it made sense to plan ahead with EVERYTHING!!!!!!  Renovation works went way over time (and budget!), so we needed to be organized and ready to 'move in' immediately the apartment was ready!


                                                We drew up plans for each room, decided how to furnish them right down to the last cushion, and set to work.  We used a mixture of inherited furniture, all of which we re-upholstered (e-Bay is fantastic for brand name fabrics at a fraction of the retail price), some new pieces from Restoration Hardware that were in their 50% off sales, and added some of our own stuff that we had been collecting over the years.  I made all the bedspreads, bedskirts, throws and pillows myself with 'cheaper' fabric and trims sourced from e-Bay again, in order to save money, and we decided which of our pictures would also be appropriate.  We even went so far as designing, and having fabricated, our curtain rods ahead of time.


                                                All of this was packed and shipped by a reputable company, and we figured out that we actually saved considerable money doing it this way, rather than spending endless hours trying to find suitable furnishings overseas.


                                                Finally, we found out where the nearest Ikea abroad was, visited that country's website, and made a long shopping list of all that we would also need at that end. We hired a car, and spent the better part of a day shopping there!  European Ikeas have the most comfortable mattresses in the world..........!!!  Mixed with our own personal items, too, their stuff was perfect.


                                                All we had to do was meet our shipment at our apartment, and within two days, the transformation was complete!


                                                Military maneuvers could not have been planned any better, but it took a LOT of work up-front to achieve the final result!!!!! For anyone planning an overseas rental, this might be the route to go...........


                                                Deborah         HomeAway 365199


                                                  • Re: Buying New furniture vs used
                                                    Active Contributor

                                                    We are lucky in that most of my homes have 2 or 3 car garages. We use these garages to store furniture which i buy.During our off season I spend my weekends going to tag sales. The second day of the tag sale is usually 50% off the original price.  I am able to stock pile beautiful upscale furniture at really really cheap prices and have them available when I need especially in a pinch. I store sofas, tables, chairs etc. I buy all light beachy types of furniture that blends well together and looks amazing. When I buy a new home, I can furnish an entire 7 bedroom home for under $3000. That is every room in the house, pots, pans, dishes, utensils, everything. Tags sales and garage sales can be found in the classified section of your local newspaper. I usually go to many over the course of the fall and winter in order to accumulate an entire homes worth. If I buy all this at one tag sale, I would need to shop the first day of the sale and I would be paying top dollar. By going the second day, or if no second day, at the end of the first day I get the best price. My last purchase was two Ralph Lauren sofas, three months old, original price each wa $2500 each and I paid $100 each. But you do need a van or truck to haul everything. We just made two trips with my mini van. Already used these at one of my homes. Each year we look fresh and new to our returning tenants.

                                                      • Re: Buying New furniture vs used
                                                        thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                        I'm totally in agreement with you Marilyn.


                                                        I purchase gently used upscale furniture on craigslist, at yard sales, and at local warehouse style stores that carry overstock or irregulars of national brands.  I also shop at consignment stores from time to time for unique vintage pieces. 


                                                        I too store my purchases over the course of the year (Cape and Islands rental season) but I use a garage bay at my year 'round home.  .


                                                        I rent a van or truck if the purchase doesn't fit into my own vehicle and I find that the savings on, for example, a gently used leather sectional (seating for 10!) and the cost of the rental truck is far below the price of a new, lesser quality piece. 


                                                        Before the rental season begins, we load a rental truck, drive to our rental home, and move it all in.  We do have the advantage of living only 3 hours away.  This isn't an annual event, we generally have a few small pieces from year-to-year since we established our home 15 years ago.  Our last big decorating project was refurbishing our great room and dining room two years ago. 


                                                        Our bedding is always new and of very good quality.  This is so very important for the comfort of your guests and, in my opinion, is not a purchase where  you can go discount or cut corners.  . 


                                                        I think the availability of used quality furniture differs from community to community.  In my area there is a constant supply of used pieces as  people appear to be able to re-decorate even in difficult economic times. 


                                                        I find decorating with used furniture is easy if I have a simple color scheme for my large or anchor pieces in each room.  And I have photos of each room, with details of some furniture, carpets, drapes, etc on my smart phone to assist me in making a quick decision.


                                                        I highly recommend purchasing used high end furniture.  New, lesser quality pieces will quickly show their wear and will need to be replaced more often. 


                                                        Many decorative and accessory items (occasional tables, lighting, wall decor, outdoor furnishings, etc) can be purchased at sale or clearance prices from online retailers.  I favor a handful of  sites including Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Ballard Design,  and Anthropologie, and flash sales sites such as Rue La La and Gilt Groupe.  I shop Macy's for big brand basics at clearance prices.   I think the style and quality of the items these retailers offer are well worth the money spent.    


                                                        My recommendations assume enjoyment of the shopping and decorating experience.  For those that don't enjoy the browsing, or don't have much time to devote, I realize my recommendations could be tantamount to torture.  But, if you are so inclined, there's a great satisfaction in the end result.

                                                          • Re: Buying New furniture vs used

                                                            Like many of you, I, too, have gotten some great deals on quality, used furniture on Craig's list, as well as thrift and consignment stores. Also bought some new pieces from furniture stores like IKEA and the Mill Store in the NE.


                                                            However, beds, mattresses, boxsprings, dressers, and stuffed living room furniture--couches/chairs-- is where I draw the line.  I bought them new because of bed bug risk. Anywhere people sleep might have them and those selling the used furniture might not even be aware of it.


                                                            The "bed-bug free" certification from Salvation Army I'm sure is valid. I wonder what they do to treat furniture so that they can certify that?


                                                            I did buy a couple of small used night tables when I was setting up,  I bagged them up in a black plastic garbage bag which I left in the hot, summer sun for a couple of weeks before bringing them into my VR. The heat will destroy even unhatched eggs as well as all developmental stages of bugs.



                                                              • Re: Buying New furniture vs used
                                                                thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                                It's good to reimind everyone about bed bugs.  I agree that there is a risk in buying used furniture.  I inspect my purchases closely (flash light on hand to peek into crevices) but this may not be sufficient to guard against the critters.(gmajay, can you comment?)  It also takes a certain amount of chutzpah to enter someone's home and inspect their furniture.  So far I have been lucky in my purchases and haven't angered too many people beyond reason. 


                                                                Regarding matresses, I've been advised to be certain new mattresses are delivered in original packaging and are not on a truck that is used to pick up used mattresses.  Some retailers are aware of the bed bug problem and others are not.  There have been reports of people receiving new mattresses with bedbugs. 



                                                                  • Re: Buying New furniture vs used

                                                                    Indeed, thaxterlane! You bring up a couple of important points.


                                                                    1.) No matter how well you inspect, bed bugs are easy to miss! It only takes one egg--a little white speck about one quarter the size of a grain of white rice--brought home with used furniture to start a full-blown infestation. Or one tiny nymph which looks like a piece of microscopic dust hitching a ride in the crack of some beautiful, old antique--and in five or six months you'll have bugs coming out of the woodwork!


                                                                    It's a good idea to carry a hand lens along with a flash light if you are going to do a routine, bed bug check. But even using these tools, it is often very difficult to see anything.  (I was reminded of this lesson myself recently--In spite of routine mattress/box spring/head board checks which I do every time I stay in public lodging, we tangled with a some bed bugs while sleeping in a motel in Idaho a couple of months ago. Even though I am trained and know what to look for and did the check of the mattresses and box springs as I always do, I could see nothing--I would have declared the place bed bug free! However, when I got home about 36 hours later the very, nasty, itchy welts developed on my arms and face--I had nine bites total from about 5 bugs as some of the bites were close together and probably from the same bug--Yuck!)


                                                                    I have angered some one on one occasion because I asked if I could inspect a piece of furniture for bed bugs before I bought it. After I explained that I had had a couple of very bad experiences with bed bugs, the seller took pity onme and sold me the item anyway.


                                                                    2.) And "yes", new mattresses should be delivered in trucks that are just for that purpose--and not by ones that also deliver used mattresses.


                                                                    In fact I have read that in the 20s and 30s your chances of getting a bed bug infested mattress or box spring even though it was brand new, were real for this reason--the same trucks were employed for both used and new mattresses. While I haven't heard that infested mattress delivery trucks have re-emerged as a major problem, there definitely is potetntial for it to happen again. It's possible that this is a bigger problem in some parts of the country than in others. However, it still makes sense for everyone to take precautions.


                                                                    When it comes to bed bugs, awareness and prevention are key.


                                                                    Double arrrgh!!


                                                                    Judith Saum   REHS  


                                                                    A link describing a presentation I gave about bed bugs awhile ago:  http://aphaannualmeeting.blogspot.com/2008/10/strange-bedfellowsliterally_28.html