The Dos and Don’ts of Secondhand Furniture

If you are interested in refurbishing your home, but you don’t have a large budget at your fingertips, don’t despair. To have a beautiful home with elegant furniture, you don’t actually have to buy everything new. For many people, the best option is to purchase second-hand furniture, and if you know where to look and how to be cautious, you can walk away with some very good buys.

One of the main things to be careful about is whether or not you are getting rid of your own garbage only to take on someone else’s. For that reason, the first thing you need to do is check out what you are interested in buying very carefully. If you are interested, for example, in buying a second-hand cupboard, make sure to check all of the doors to make sure that they open and close smoothly and that the hinges work properly. Is the wood scratched? Are the shelves properly fitted? Do they have all of their dibbles and screws? And what about the door handles?

Where are you getting your second-hand furniture from? You can always find offers on various email lists, in the classified sections of local newspapers, or from ads placed on notice-boards in stores, churches, or bus stops. When you find what you need, the first question to ask is why the seller is getting rid of the item in the first place. Does the ad say that the item is in need of repair? If you are not careful, you could end up spending so much money on getting it repaired that you would have been better off buying a new one in the first place.

One source of good bargains is a moving sale. If a family is immigrating to another country, the furniture that they are selling off is not necessarily in bad condition. The reason that it is being sold is that it’s not worth transporting it abroad rather than because it is defective.

Stores selling reconditioned furniture are also a good option. The furniture that is sold is cheaper than brand new, and because it has been reconditioned, any scratches and defects have been fixed. Many families buy tables, chairs, and even appliances such as refrigerators from such stores.

Once you have bought your secondhand furniture, you may want to brighten up the look of the room further by treating yourself to some new curtains and rugs. These kinds of furnishings are relatively inexpensive even when purchased first hand. The right kind of area rug can make all the difference to a room. For instance, any one of the shaped area rugs that you can buy can put the finishing touches on your living room, no matter what the furniture looks like or where it comes from, and solid area rugs can complement the color scheme in any room.

The secret of buying good secondhand furniture is therefore knowing how to recognize a good purchase and adding tasteful furnishings to it. You might not end up with the designer furniture that you always dreamed of, but if you are smart in your purchases you will still have a beautiful home.

Decorating Small Spaces

Decorating a very small space can be a challenge, especially if it contains architectural details which break up the wall space, such as windows, doors and fireplaces, or if the space is a high-traffic area. The techniques for furnishing small spaces are slightly different, but the basic design principles are the same. The idea in any size room is to create a space that is as comfortable as it is functional.

Scale is the first principle to keep in mind when purchasing furniture for a small space. The deep, overstuffed sofa with rolled arms and floor-brushing skirts that seemed like a comforting place to curl up in the vastness of a showroom may look like a sleeping rhinoceros when you get it home to your tiny living room. 

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Some Origins of Decorating Terms

Art Déco
The phrase Art Déco, more commonly abbreviated to just simply “Déco” originates in France from a journal by architect Le Corbusier, L’Esprit Nouveau, in an article detailing the 1925 Expo, titled 1925 Expo: Arts Déc”. In 1966 an event celebrating the  1925 exhibit titled itself Les Années 25: Art Déco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau, and from then on it became solidified as a style set apart from all others. A fewDéco influenced works of art we are familiar with here  in America are The Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer and the RCA Building.  In Olympia, the Armory located at 515 Eastside St. SE, The Greyhound Station at 107 7th Ave SE, and The Old Thurston County Courthouse at  1110 Capitol Way S are all in the Art Deco style.  Art Deco has made a scene on the fashion and design stage recently, and is expected to be an ongoing trend for the next 5-10 years.
Art Noveau
It is nearly impossible to mention Art Deco without mentioning its progenitor, Art Noveau. Noveau was an art movement usually identified with its interest in the structure of the natural world. Vines, flourishes and flowers all took on an architectural feel and sinuous curving lines and feminine figures dominated architecture in many instances of art from 1890-1900. With the onset of the Age of Industry, with all of the shapes and materials that suited large scale manufacturing, the happiest marriage between Nature and Industry was Art Deco, which later gave way to Modernism.  The Art Noveau movement elevated art to the highest status it has achieved since the Greeks or Sumerians. The popular opinion was that art should encompass all facets of life, from caryatids on mantles to flowering silverware. We see this influence today in the importance that is placed on decorating the home and acquiring stylish utilitarian items. The philosophy of the Art Noveau movement was that art should be a way of life. The name Art Noveau stems from a Parisian gallery, Maison de l’Art Nouveau,  owned by a German art dealer named Siegfried Bing.

Simple Refinishing Tips for Old and Outdated Furniture

Refinishing furniture is easier than it was ten or twenty years ago. Did you know you can recolor leather, vinyl and fabric quite easily? There are special products on the market now that let you paint fabric couches, spray on leather color and even waterproof it for patio use. I will introduce you to some of these technique and special tools and you can see if they would work for some of the old pieces lying around your house. 


 These are outdated in today’s computerized age, but they’re still used by painters for doing measurements of complex geometric patterns.  Projecting a floral pattern onto a dresser can allow you to paint within the lines and create a beautiful custom piece. The image will wrap around curves and nooks and crannys, taking away the guesswork on painting the pattern. Continue reading

An Intro to Flame Retardants in Furniture

It is a terrible thing to die in a house fire and for many years building codes have required fire alarms.  Flame retardants, chemicals which inhibit a fire from starting, have been a component of clothing and furniture for many years.  Many of our customers have expressed an appropriate level of concern about their effect on health.  Here’s a fairly brief introduction to flame retardants, their health effects and what you can do.  Caveat: I am not a scientist so all the facts here are gathered from outside sources.

What Are They and How Do They Work

One of the first fire retardants in popular use was polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).  Odorless, tasteless PCBs easily penetrat latex, polyvinyl chloride, foam and, sadly, skin.  Since the 1930’s it has been known that it accumulates in body fat (and transmitted to infants through breast feeding) and can inhibit and imitate the main sex hormone in females, feed estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells, cause rashes, fatigue, headaches and coughs. The US Congress banned production in 1979.