When you’re buying used furniture to repair or paint, you learn quickly what sells in your area and what doesn’t. If you’re new to buying and selling furniture, these tips will help you hunt down the best furniture pieces to turn a profit.
Tip 1: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
Don’t pay attention to paint/stain color or hardware. Dings and scratches can easily be sanded out or filled. Drawers that are tight or stick are also usually easy fixes. Loose or missing veneer is also not a deal breaker and can usually be fixed easily.
Tip 2: DO pay attention to the “bones”
Does it have a nice shape? Pretty curves or details? Look at all 4 sides of the piece. Any major splits or cracks? Broken legs? Open every drawer or cabinet door and check for damage and assess whether or not you can fix any damage you find. Look for solid wood pieces. We never pick up cheap pieces that have generic cardboard-like backs or drawer bottoms that are stapled together.
This piece had broken hardware, needed minor drawer repairs, and had large gouges in the top. But overall it was sturdy, in great shape and the repairs were uncomplicated.
Tip 3: Dovetail Drawers
Pull one of the drawers out and look at how it’s put together. Dovetail drawers are a sign of good, solid construction. If you have no clue what else to look for when assessing a piece of furniture, this is an easy one that will help steer you in the right direction.
Even if a piece doesn’t have dovetail joints, we still consider purchasing it if it’s solid wood, this is just an easy way to assess the construction of the piece.
This is an example of dovetail joints.
Tip 4: Versatile pieces are the easiest to sell
Dressers and small tables are my favorite finds. Why? Because they’re so versatile! Small dressers can be used as an actual dresser, in a large foyer or entryway, as a dining room buffet, etc. Small side tables can be used in many different ways and in virtually any room. The more versatile the piece, the larger your market will be and the faster it will sell.
On the flip side, there are pieces that aren’t going to have a large market. Let’s look at a vanity for example. No matter how gorgeous it may be, the market for a vanity will be much less than for a dresser. Not everyone has room for a large, mostly decorative piece of furniture like a vanity, and it doesn’t work in many rooms outside of a feminine bedroom. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try selling a vanity, we’ve actually sold several. It just means the number of people interested in purchasing a vanity will probably be lower and it may be a longer turnover while you’re waiting for the right buyer. Just something to keep in mind.
This piece could work in many different rooms. (See the full makeover for the piece pictured above here).
Tip 5: Keep It Neutral And Cohesive
When you’re painting furniture to sell, it’s good practice to keep things neutral for the most part. This goes in line with the previous tip. You’re going to have a larger market if you paint a dresser white or a pretty gray color, rather than if you paint it bright purple. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative or use color or that you have to paint everything white. It just means that a neutral colored dresser will appeal to more people and work in a lot of different homes. Someone will eventually come by and love your purple dresser, it’s just going to take longer for that one person to come along.
In addition to this, if you’re selling in a booth or market space, you’re going to sell more if everything in your space is cohesive. Figure out what the style is for your space and stick with it. Do you do a lot of shabby chic? If so, all your pieces and color choices should compliment that look. You wouldn’t want to put a very modern piece of furniture right in the middle of all that shabby chic. It would look out of place and it’s not going to appeal to your market. You want someone who has a heart for shabby chic to stop at your booth and browse because she loves the overall feel of your space. If you have a hodge podge of styles and colors it’s going to look more like a garage sale and you’re not going to grab the attention of as many customers. Again, this doesn’t mean everything has to be exactly the same color and same style. It should just look like it all comes from somewhere in the same family tree and all vibe together.
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