Today my kids were crawling around under my desk and I was thinking about how much I love my used furniture (which both the desk and chair are). I think one of the secrets to buying used furniture and loving it is paying attention to the details.
please ignore the ugly air-conditioner and my uncovered cords...I seriously contemplated not using this picture, but the details of this desk are too pretty to ignore.
Furniture that has feet is always better. Like mr. little people under there?
Even the hinges on this cabinet/buffet-that-I-use-as-an-entertainment-center-and-got-for-fifty-bucks are pretty!
Again, legs. I love the knobs on this one as well.
Three things to look for are shape, details and feet. Cheaply made products usually don't have these three things, and when you spend second-hand prices for furniture that isn't cheaply made, you can achieve the look you want without the expense. Think of it this way: if I bought brand new furniture, I would have lower quality stuff than I currently have and it would have been more expensive! Always keep in mind that you can paint a piece of furniture, so if the shape is pretty and the price is right, go for it. Look past the ugly color it may be. Also, if you buy pieces with character like those little carving details in the legs, knobs or hardware, it doesn't look cheap and secondhand, it looks vintage and stylish. My decorating style is very mis-matched so it may be easier for me to pull off the second-hand look than for someone who wants all of their wood tones to match or needs their nightstands to be the same; but I believe there is a second-hand solution to all design issues.
Currently, I am on the look-out for a kid-sized wooden, handmade table and chairs that I can paint to match my goldenrod kitchen table. I just know it's out there. I will be sure to let you know when I find it :)