Budget Living: Don’t Turn Up Your Nose at Used Furniture

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A wood dining room table
When FishPapa and I were first married, we lived in a tiny, 250-square foot studio apartment. It was the guest house / pool house for a larger home. The landlords became good friends of ours and we enjoyed that season immensely.(Hi Ribbens Family!)

Needless to say, space was a hot commodity. But, we lived in Santa Barbara so space was an expensive commodity as well.

We were snug and in love and it didn’t matter. In some things we spared no expense, but in our habitat, we were always pretty frugal. So as newlyweds we acquired a bed, a table and chairs, a microwave cart, a dresser and a cedar chest – all new. That’s pretty much all that fit in that space. Sixteen years later we still have all of those pieces.

Since then, we haven’t purchased too much furniture. We were always waiting to finish home improvement projects or to have enough cash to buy really nice stuff. For the longest time, we just made do with cast-offs and folding card chairs for our kitchen. We didn’t really pursue any purchases except the table you see above. FishPapa bought it unfinished for a present for me and stained it the way we wanted.

Over the last few years we’ve adjusted and learned not to turn our noses up at used furniture.

Having six kids helps.

You don’t expect very expensive, fancy furniture to hold up to the abuse of six children, so you just don’t buy it. And, frankly, I don’t really want to. If I can find what I need secondhand, I’ll take it.

But, I desperately wanted chairs that didn’t fold. I was prepared to save my pennies to buy new. But, a trip to Ikea proved that we would have to pay a very pretty penny for just a few, not-so-good quality chairs.

And once again, my hubby and Craigslist came through for me. FishPapa found a restaurant that was upgrading their chairs and had lots to sell. Seventeen, to be exact. And we bought them.

All seventeen of them.

For the price of 4 new chairs, we now have a place for you all to sit! And it just so happens that they match our new table very well. So pleased to have chairs that don’t fold for a great price!

Craigslist is a wealth of great finds. Make sure you check it out before you pay higher prices.

For more frugal tips, visit Crystal’s blog every Friday.

Have you found a great secondhand purchase lately? Share it in the comments!

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  1. Alright I need to check out Craig’s list. Our dining room table and 4 chairs were Donny’s parents. We definitely need more chairs for guests but we have a very small dining room. I thought your table and chairs were great. Love real wood furniture.

  2. I love it. The table is beautiful…very much my taste, and it’s great how well the chairs match! I like the “distressed” look of them…I know that’s just general wear and tear, but I love it.
    We got a dry sink this year for free from one of our friends who’s a handyman. He often gets things from his customers, and this piece he couldn’t find a home for in his own home or I think he would have kept it. It has been such a lovely addition to our living room and perfect for the spot in which it sits. It is a constant reminder to me that if I wait long enough, the exact right thing will come along. It’s just the waiting that gets me.

  3. I was also wondering where you stored 17 chairs, but I see you answered that already. We have lived in 5 different places in our 12 years of marriage. That and 3 kids would keep us from thinking we needed to buy a lot of furniture!

    Also buying used furniture is better for the environment.

  4. I always did love your table and the chairs look great with it!! How cool to have enough for guests too! That is always our problem (besides no room)–is even if we did, we don’t have enough chairs. Very cool–

    By the way, we ate your apples and oatmeal yesterday–soooo yummy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. mr. right and i (yes we are newly-weds) live in a gorgeous 2000 sq ft home we’re renting from his parents at a discounted price. and we furnished the entire place for $360. we had most everything given to us, but we picked up a couple of pieces at the salvation army and a yard sale.

  6. We haven’t bought very many pieces of furniture, new or used. Of course, we’re still technically newlyweds and look pitiful enough to get lots of offers for used furniture that folks, mostly family, are getting rid of. We now have a houseful of furniture so we aren’t taking any more strays unless the item is much better than what we already have. Like the Queen Anne table with chairs that was recently sent our way.

    It has been a blessing, though. We have a beautiful bed, t.v. armoire, antique desk that were all given. I think the only thing we’ve purchased brand new is a metal bakers rack. My husband bought our dresser brand new before we were married. It’s really nice and when we go to purchase a new bedroom set, it would be easy to find something very similar.

    Your chairs look great with the table!

  7. Great deal, Amy!

    Zimms, I think he just looked under furniture. The table he bought at an unfinished furniture store. I think it was about $500. it is really hard wood. There’s one leaf in the middle.

  8. Most of our stuff is hand-me-downs too! We have folding chairs at our table too! Could you tell me what he looked under to find that? I look on Craiglist almost everyday trying to find a table big enough and in our price range, with chairs. Most don’t have chairs or they look like they won’t hold up. Restaurant chairs would certainly hold up to 6 kids (that is what we have too!).

    My husband actually came to your blog and drooled over that table and chairs. He loved it!

  9. I’m thinking hard, but I can’t come up with even one piece of furniture that we’ve bought new. We generally sit and wait till one of my family members is ready to get rid of some things. We’re first in line!

    Our biggest purchase was a huge entertainment center. Retail about $1,500 but I stole mine at an auction for $400. It pays to WAIT when you want something… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. We have a huge rental house, way bigger than we need, but we got it sight unseen. Anyway, there are 11 chairs at the table, 7 for us, 4 for guests. (It’s a big room.) Then we have 6 chairs in the school room, another huge room.

    Someday when I get my house cleaned, I’ll take pictures and give y’all a tour. Around 2012.

  11. Wow, that’s an odd comment to follow… ๐Ÿ™‚ Though I wish you success too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So, hmm, where do you store 17 chairs? Or do you have them out all the time?

    That’s an awesome deal y’all got! And I don’t blame you a bit for wanting to move on from the folding chairs!

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