A handy guide to second-hand furniture shopping

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Visit a second-hand furniture shop for a range of eclectic items, where you just might find a hidden gem. (Envato Elements pic)

For those who are looking to spruce up their home, buying furniture can be a fun and exciting activity – but it could also burn a hole in your pocket.

If you have the budget to spend on new items, go for it. But, for those who are struggling to make ends meet, second-hand furniture shopping could be the way to go. Who knows, you just might find a diamond in the rough!

Here are some tips on how to get started.

1. Inspect all items thoroughly

There are many pieces of furniture you can buy second-hand, and there are some you can’t – or shouldn’t. Furniture with hard surfaces that can be wiped down are good options, especially if there are no or few crevices.

Carefully inspect all the items you’re interested in. Look out for these “enemies” that could hitch a ride into your home via your potential acquisition:

  • Bed bugs: These largely infect soft furnishings such as cushions, mattresses, sofas, curtains, and carpets.
  • Dust mites: Again, soft furnishings that are heavily laden with dust are a concern. You might need to spend money to get them cleaned.
  • Termites: Check all wooden furniture or little holes, mysterious hollow spots, or even water damage – a prime termite munching ground.
  • Mould: This happens if the item has water damage or was stored in a poorly ventilated, damp area. Mould can pose an immediate danger to your health.

2. Check prices of new furniture first

Survey the prices of brand-new furniture first, so you can compare the price and quality of new items versus preloved.

Importantly, consider the price of the new item compared with a second-hand one. If a new chair costs RM400 and is of top quality, while a preloved item is RM250 but in poor condition, it might just be better to buy the new chair.

3. Choose the right place to shop at

There are many second-hand furniture stores in Malaysia. Look for places that have more variety and – even though this sounds counterintuitive – are more cluttered, as this could imply the proprietors have bought items from many people and/or organisations over the years.

Preloved furniture with minor defects can easily be repaired or touched up. (Envato Elements pic)

If a store is too clean and tidy, there is the high possibility it is too commercial or new.

4. Be open and creative

The thing with second-hand furniture is that most, if not all, items will consist of different designs and vibes. It will generally be hard to match them across the board, so don’t overthink it – if you like that rattan chair but worry it might clash with your coffee table, take the plunge anyway.

Many unique designs and concepts came from unexpected places and experimentation. If you are too set on a consistent look or feel, you might end up wasting more time and money, and it would probably be easier to buy new furniture that matches.

5. Look for potential, not perfection

Most preloved items will have flaws or mild damage from years of use. Remember, you are looking for a good deal, not perfection; think of the potential of the item in the context of your living space.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask for further discounts on items that have defects. If that unique shelf has caught your eye but has chipped wood on one side, it can always be repaired. Which leads to:

6. Find a repairman, or do it yourself

Preloved items that you buy may be in need of repair or touching up. Find a good craftsperson who can help you do this for cheap, or – to further save money – do the work yourself.

There are plenty of useful videos and information online that could help you convert that hidden gem into a diamond for your home!

This article was written by Su-Wei Ho for MyPF. To simplify and grow your personal finances, follow MyPF on Facebook and Instagram.