Welcome back! As you know, we recently had our hardwood floors installed at The Shack. So, while we were waiting for that to get done, I was out shopping for furniture. You probably remember that I have a beautiful wool Karastan rug in warm reds, golds, olive greens and a touch of blue. I bought it on clearance, and knew it would look gorgeous on our new hardwood floors! Plus, I already had a red sofa, that I moved from our other house. So I’ve been on the lookout for chairs, side tables, and other furnishings to coordinate with these items, but my budget is not terribly ample. I need to shop smart and use my experience to do some affordable decorating.
I grew up visiting auctions and estate sales with my wonderful mother. I loved going ‘junking’ with her to garage sales in the small town where we lived. My Mom would watch the newspaper ads for yard sales, choosing only those in the nicest neighborhoods. Then we’d get up very early on those mornings to be amongst the first people visiting those sales, and as a result we’d hopefully snag the best stuff. These early experiences gave me a terrific education, which led to great confidence in this area as an adult. My real-life forays into the world of second-hand furniture led me into the further study of antiques and vintage furniture. So much so, that I worked in the antiques business while still attending college earning my Interior Design degree.
Thankfully, as an adult, I live in a suburban area with some awesome estate sales! I manage to make it to really great-quality Estate sales pretty often…maybe once or twice a month. I’m very discriminating, just like my Mom taught me all those years ago, and I only attend sales in the nicest homes. I also try to preview the sales online, before making the trip. These days, instead of watching the local newspaper for Garage Sale and Auction ads, I subscribe to EstateSales.Net, which lists the location, dates, and times of sales in my area. It’s really an awesome site, since they send out emails alerting me to upcoming sales in my area, with a link to Google Maps and even photos of items included in the sale.
Here’s a link to the EstateSales.Net website.
There are a few tricks to being successful at shopping these sales. One of the more obvious ones is to know exactly what you’re looking for. Now that sounds stupid, but really…have your measurements and floor plans with you at all times. This way you know what sized items you need and you won’t waste your money on unnecessary stuff. Make a list, so you don’t forget items you might overlook at the sale. You might also want to keep swatches of your existing fabrics and paint colors with you, to be sure you’re purchasing something that will look good in your space (unless you’re planning to reupholster or repaint the objects, of course). Also, don’t expect that you’ll find something every time you visit a sale, but DO be ready to purchase the item immediately if you happen to find that perfect item. Someone else will surely ‘steal’ it out from under you the minute you walk away. The thrill of the hunt is so much fun!
Some people worry about buying upholstered items secondhand. I’ve already mentioned that I choose only the sales at higher end homes, but I also closely inspect each item. What am I looking for? First, the items should be a quality manufacture (a name brand furniture maker, or earmarks of quality furniture construction). Second, I DO keep an eye out for signs of insect infestation. Watch out for rusty colored streaks under the cushions (a sign of bedbugs—ewww), and run away if you see anything like that! Don’t be afraid to take a sniff, either. Sometimes furniture that’s been in a smoker’s home can hold onto lingering odors for quite some time, even though they might look great on the surface. And you don’t want to bring that terrible smell home with you! I will warn you though, if you’re at a sale, and DO see something you think you like, be sure to look it over ‘with a fine toothed comb’…even under the cushions and on the bottom. You can always tell if a piece has been barely used and kept in a clean home. Those are the items you want.
So the point of this whole thing, is to tell you that I’ve recently purchased some really beautiful estate pieces for The Shack, and I’ve saved a ton of money by doing so. The first is this terrific blue wingback chair and ottoman by Sherrill furniture.
The wonderful thing is that both of these chairs are already upholstered in colors and fabrics that will work well with the rug I’m using in The Shack. Later, I may decide to reupholster the wing chair, but for now, both of these pieces look just awesome in the main living area and are also quite comfy! I estimate I’ve saved well over a thousand dollars, maybe even two thousand, by purchasing these two chairs second-hand, rather than retail. Buying affordable furniture items like these for The Shack means I have more to spend more on the much needed renovations, while I’m still able to enjoy a beautiful vacation home. My Mom did well, teaching me the value of a dollar all those years ago, and it’s still paying off!
Now, I think I’ll curl up in my ‘new’ chair with a cup of tea and read a book by the fire…you should think about joining me sometime!
Until then, make sure to like Robinson Interiors on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, and DO stay tuned for future updates on The Shack!