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Buying & selling

Buying Used Furniture: Advantages of Second Hand

Buying second hand, I have mastered it by now. Clothes, furniture, home decor, you name it – I have it. I didn’t grow up in abundance but had everything I needed and some to spare, and that was thanks to my parent’s (my mom’s really) creativity and inventiveness when it comes to repurposing things. I believe to have brought it to the next level as I only shop in “real” stores if I don’t find what I am looking for in the second hand shop.

I view second hand shopping as a treasure hunt. You can never go with the expectation of finding the item you are looking for as this may lead to disappointment. One has to approach it with an open mind and that alone opens the world of possibilities.

Cabinet with flowers

Besides keeping the budget in check, there are countless advantages to second hand shopping. Here are just a few of them…

Environmental benefits

Let’s start with the obvious; items that would further pollute our planet by decomposing in landfill sites get a new lease of life. They may end up there eventually, but at least for a little while longer they are being used and enjoyed.

One of a kind

orange bowl

Our DNA makes us unique on the inside, so why not extend that to our environment? Dressing in vintage clothes, decorating with hand-me-down-furniture and accessories and co-ordinating them with new ones will allow us to stand out.

Better quality

This is particularly the case for furniture. Masters of craft is the title that the people who had built these pieces have truly earned. The saying of “putting blood, sweat and tears into a project” is theirs to own. It may be considered trendy at the moment to incorporate “antique” furniture in modern homes, but these pieces come sturdier than any newly-manufactured ones. This is largely due to the overall quality of materials used, as well as the level of craftsmanship that the artisans put into assembling them rather than being put together on an assembly line en masse.

Fuel your creativity

Instead of serving a purely utilitarian purpose of storing our belongings, furniture fulfils aesthetic objectives as well. One of the easiest ways to update a piece of furniture is to replace the existing hardware. You would be surprised how far a small change like adding a new pull or a knob can go.

Painting the piece would not only change its overall feel and character, but would also help hide any imperfections that often accompany older furniture. Besides masking the flaws, paint can also be used to enhance elements that may otherwise go unnoticed. This is particularly the case with pieces that have a lot of ornate elements. With so many paint choices available today, even two identical dressers would look vastly different if each one of them was to be reinterpreted in a different colour and with a different set of pulls.

Also, try to find alternative uses to the items you see. Like these bowls or flower garlands that I made from rope and some scrap fabric I found all bunched up in a corner of a thrift store.

Rose garlands

In the same sense, your grandma’s string of pearls or a vintage brooch will elevate the H&M outfit you got yesterday to a whole new level.

Keeping history alive

Inheriting second hand items means inheriting stories and memories and weaving your life into them. A glass mark on a piece of furniture may be a sign of celebration, that silk scarf may have made its way to you from a designer’s studio in Paris, the set of vintage dishes made someone’s wedding reception really special…now is your turn to enrich them with a touch of your memories and hopefully they get passed on to a whole new generation.


Jelena Pticek

Jelena Pticek

Writer and expert

Jelena is a Canadian artist who specialises in upcycling furniture, and the Preloved Upcycling Ambassador. She was recently selected to be Annie Sloan’s Painter in Residence, and is always on the hunt for inspiration for her latest pieces.