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The Pros and Cons of Buying Second-Hand Homewares


The Pros and Cons of Buying Second-Hand Homewares

As Macklemore stressed, thrift shopping (AKA shopping second-hand goods) can be a great way to pick up bargains.

Whether it’s clothes, furniture or home accessories, you could grab a truly vintage piece that completes your shabby chic home interior.

But there are pitfalls. And if you don’t truly consider them, it could cost you more in the long run. (For more insight and money-saving tips, read our article on How To Create a Shabby Chic Home on a Budget.)

Furniture can be a big investment, but rightly so. There are some items you shouldn’t scrimp on (mattresses, for one) for the sake of your health and long-term finances.

You can still achieve a gorgeous shabby chic interior scheme with a newly-made but distressed-look coffee table or a vintage-inspired console table.

But if you want true vintage you need to take a bit of time to look around and check the details.

So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both. 


Doing shabby chic second hand: The advantages


  1. Sustainability 


Buying homewares second hand prevents them from heading to landfill. It also saves resources – including packaging – and reduces emissions. And if you can pick something up locally, that’s even better. With options like Facebook Marketplace, you could end up with a preloved vintage closet or dressing table from a few streets away. 


  1. Money saving


We pay a premium for newness. With second-hand goods you’re paying considerably under the original retail price because you’re not the first to touch them. If you search in the right places, you can find beautifully shabby chic and truly vintage pieces for a fraction of their original cost – that are still in tip top condition. This is especially true if you scour charity shops, flea markets or car boot sales rather than online sites. Online sellers of all things ‘vintage’ sometimes hike up prices and take advantage of the fact you can’t see or touch the item (see disadvantages). 


  1. Timeless, one-of-a-kind pieces


Uniqueness is almost guaranteed when second-hand shopping. There’s something special and exciting about owning a piece of furniture you know that nobody else has. Plus, if you pick up a real vintage item, you could be getting the creation of a true artisan.


Too shabby: The disadvantages of second-hand homewares 


  1. Quality isn’t guaranteed


Preloved items are likely to have had a lot of use. This means the item might not be comfortable, sturdy or even safe. Second-hand sofas or beds that have lost their support could be detrimental to your health (yes, sofas can cause back problems). But even items like console tables, wardrobes or tables can be problematic if they’re not structurally sound. You could end up wasting money if you have to ultimately throw the item out. 


  1. Not always hygienic


Another risk factor when buying second-hand pieces is that you’re forgoing guaranteed cleanliness. Without knowing how previous owners cared for their items or whether they were cleaned thoroughly, you don’t know what you’re getting. And unfortunately, this is something that’s all the more pertinent in a post-COVID landscape. 


  1. Seller scams


Buying an antique piece is exciting and can certainly add an accent to your home. However, can you be sure that what you’re getting is truly antique?

These days, the word is bandied around with many online sellers referring to any pre-owned item as antique and whacking on a hefty price tag.

To be legitimately antique, an item must be over 100 years old. It can be a bit of a minefield trying to decipher the truth about a piece. If you don’t have the time to research and ask questions, then you might be better off buying new pieces of furniture that give the impression of age.

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