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Painting Tips and Tricks: How to Find Good Furniture Part 1

Furniture-Painting-Tips-Tricks how to find good furniture

This is the first real lesson in the my little Painting Tips & Tricks series. You can find out a little more about this in yesterday’s introduction.

Well let’s jump right into these painting lessons! Before you can start painting furniture, you have to have something to paint! If you’re lucky, you’ve probably already got something laying around your home that can be painted, but if you’re in this business like me, then you’ve already painted everything in your apartment and have to go in search for more.

This part can actually be the most time consuming of the entire process, even more so than waiting for your paint to dry. Especially if you have something specific in mind.

Some places to start looking:

Craigslist: this is something you’ll have to check pretty often to find what you’re looking for and be the first person to it. Because painting furniture is so popular, the good stuff goes fast. And never commit to buying anything until you’ve seen it in person, pictures can be extremely deceiving. Personally, I don’t use Craiglist much because I get bored looking through all the listings. But if you’re not wanting to spend a bunch of mullah on gas to drive around and search for furniture, this is a pretty good place to start. You can also get an idea of how much furniture is selling for.

Facebook Swapshops: Again, furniture goes fast on swapshops, so you’ll have to check back pretty frequently. I’m convinced that people only post the good things between the hours of 8:00-4:00 when I’m at work, because I never see anything good. But I have friends who have a lot of luck here, so I know that there’s potential.

Estate Sales: There are two kinds of estate sales. 1) Those ran by an estate sale company and 2) those ran by a family. Typically, estate sales ran by a family are much more affordable and are more like a garage sale than anything. An estate sale is better than a garage sale  because they’re usually selling everything in the home, so there is a lot of furniture up for grabs – not just outgrown baby clothes.

Estate sales ran by a company usually have higher prices because they know the true value of everything and they’ve inflated the prices to account for the percent of sales they take. Also, the companies do a pretty good job of marketing their estate sales, so there will inevitably be more people trying to get the same furniture you want.

Garage Sales: During the summer, garage sales can be a lot of fun. Especially neighborhood wide garage sales. Some people research garage sales early and then map out a plan, but I usually just start driving and follow the sale signs. I think it’s so much more fun to not know where you’re going to end up or the treasures you’ll find. But if you’re looking for something specific, mapping it out might be a better plan for you so you don’t waste a lot of time. My advice here is not to judge a book by it’s cover. Sometimes the least promising looking garage sales have the perfect piece of furniture hidden in the corner. Find garage sales on Craiglist or by googling “Garage sale in [your city].”

Friends and Family: Don’t be shy about what you’re looking for. Put something on Facebook to let your friends and family know what you’re in search of. You’ll find what you’re looking for much faster with multiple eyes looking out for you. Plus, someone might be trying to get rid of exactly what you’re looking for and will sell it to you for a great price, or even better, give it to you for free! I get a lot of furniture from my friends and family who refer me to their friends and family that have stuff for sale. Just remember to thank them!

The Side of the Road: This sounds really sketchy, but I follow this amazing blogger (Redoux Interiors) who goes dumpster diving and finds nearly ALL of her stuff for free. Check out her blog for more tips on this. Also, most neighborhoods have a “large trash pick-up day” twice a year, and people set a bunch of furniture they want to get rid of out for the trash man. If you can beat him there, that stuff is FREE. You don’t even have to ask to take it!

Thrift Stores: This is the last place I would look for furniture to paint. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but thrift stores aren’t as cheap as they used to be. I think they jack up the price on anything that is real wood, especially since the painting craze took over. But I did find a dresser for $4.99 once that I now use as my TV stand, so they’re worth checking into every once in a while. I just wouldn’t spend all your time scouring these places.

Places I wouldn’t normally look for furniture:

Thrift Stores: Is that confusing since I put it on both lists? I just think you can usually find better furniture for better prices at any of the other places I listed above for much easier.

Antique Stores: Again, everything that isn’t already painted is usually overpriced. Antique malls are made up of vendors, so their main goal is to make a profit. They are selling their furniture at profit making prices. If you’re looking to paint your own furniture to save money, you need to look for the places that these vendors get their pieces, because they obviously found them somewhere else cheaper.


Are you on information overload? This is just the beginning. During Part 2 of How to Find Good Furniture, I’ll outline things you need to know while shopping like what kind of wood to look for (the answer is real wood), how much money to spend, negotiating, and what broken pieces are worth your time and what you should leave behind.

Feel free to add any of your tips in the comments or ask me questions to address in a future post! 


jennifer prod

Wednesday 30th of April 2014

haha, i think it'd be super fun to spend a day dumpster diving with you :) when we got dirty we could just get frozen yogurt and switch to garage sales until we both found things to paint :)


Thursday 1st of May 2014

Sounds like a perfect day to me! Especially the fro-yo! :)


Tuesday 29th of April 2014

Good post, Kala! :) xo


Thursday 1st of May 2014

Thanks, Cindy!