Updated: Jun 14, 2020
This is so important. Over the years, I have learned the hard way that is it crucial to be very selective on what pieces to take on, and for what cost. If you are someone new to the furniture refinishing game, please be advised that one of the things I hear OFTEN from others (including myself) is that we tend to jump on buying more pieces when we are not yet ready to begin. This causes many of us to go quickly from excited to overwhelmed. I will walk you through some of the tips I've come across, as well as some lessons learned. (If you don't want to end up with you hubby being right, heed this advice...)
1) First and foremost, please keep in mind that there will ALWAYS be something out there to revamp. In other words, don't allow yourself to get too bummed if you miss out on a great piece. There. Will. Always. Be. Something. Else. I know it can feel like a gut punch when Hubby says "Are you kidding me!? You're trying to pick up another piece?" or, often in my case, I miss out on something because I don't have a truck and need to wait for mentioned hubby to get home so I can go without the kiddos to pick up an item that requires the back seats of the SUV to be down. Life will go on. I promise!
2) You want to also look for items that do not need OBVIOUS REPAIRS. Unless it's cosmetic, I try to stay away from anything that needs extra work. Remember- time is money. Plus, the more work a piece needs, the longer you might let it sit before you get to it.
Some repairs you will not know about until you get to Step 2: Cleaning Your Piece, and that's alright. But when looking for items, try to think "less work is better." Again, unless it's some amazing antique piece that has only minimal repairs needed, probably not worth your time.
3) Also, please keep in mind your MARKET. What do THEY buy? Sure, that super cool, vintage telephone bench is available, but will you be able to sell it for an amount that is worth your time and effort, and in a reasonable amount of time? Why buy it for $60, prep it, paint it, upholster the seat, yada, yada, just to have to wait weeks-months to sell and barely for a profit. Now, if you could buy for $20 and you're not hurting for money or space, more power to you. Do something creative! But remember your market. And always consider your reasons for doing this (money, hobby, creative outlet, just for fun). If you are doing this as a business, pay close attention to what sells fast in your area. Typically this consists of dressers, buffets, nightstand sets, and really anything that is versatile, such as a long dresser that can be used also as a buffet or TV stand.
4) Next, as I mentioned above, COST. This is soooo import
ant, especially if you are doing this to make some side income, and especially if this is an actual business. Depending on where you live, you will begin to understand going rates that are reasonable for common items, such as a vintage dresser, nightstand set, bed frame, etc. Typically, unless it's a unique piece that I know will see, or a very sought-after item like a buffet, I typically do not spend more than $100 for a larger sized dresser, about $75 for nightstand set, $100 for a queen size bed frame, and $100-150 for a buffet. And this is for items in very good shape. I ask if the item is structurally sound (not worried about cosmetic blemishes) and if the drawers slide/glide well. The reason for these price limits is because I am going off how much I can sell the item(s) for. It has to make sense. Also, I also try to respectfully negotiate price. If a dresser is listed on Facebook Marketplace for "over one week" for $150, I might write "would you be willing to come down to $80?" The seller will often times come back with a counter offer, will accept the offer, or might decline all together. No harm. I've saved a bunch of money this way. If an item is appropriately prices, or even under priced, I typically don't try to haggle because I want to be fair.
5) The other important factor: SPACE. I can honestly say that I have rushed to buy something, let it sit for a year and then ended up selling it, or even giving away for free. What was the point? All it did was take up precious space in our garage and home, and caused me more stress. Now, as I am actively working on clearing my space out more, I am aware that I need to be more picky on what pieces I take on. I've had many offers for free pieces and I often times have to decline because of space. Unless it is a highly sought after piece or design, my answer needs to be "no." Anything I buy, I have an idea in mind and I'm logging each piece now. That way, I don't have random items hidden in the garage. Also, my workspace is actually manageable, I can move around, and it feels good.
Example of a good buy:
Here is an item that was listed as "Dresser" for $100. The description states "Blonde, Country French Style, Works well with Shabby Chic or Hollywood Regency Decor Antique style hardware 64”L x 41”H x 20”D Pick up only!" It included 8 pictures that gave me a good idea that the piece was in nice shape. Condition was listed as "Used- Good."
I offered the seller $60 as it had been listed for over a week. They said they could come down to $80.
Notice how the "dresser" has doors with a shelf inside? That could absolutely qualify this piece as a buffet. Once refinished, I would describe it as "a versatile piece that can be used as a buffet, dresser, TV/entertainment stand, extra storage/counter space in your kitchen, etc. So many uses!" That right there can up the price you list it for. In my area of Northern California, I would list this piece between $425-575, depending on the work that is done.
Great project and profit!