Pointers on buying used, unfinished furniture
Why do people buy second-hand or unfinished furniture? Perhaps it is a matter of budget. Or maybe it is the spirit of adventure that spurs them on. Whatever the motivation, here are a few pointers that might be helpful:Auctions and estate sales are good places to scout for treasures. Dont rule out garage sales, though; they can be source of gainful surprises, too. And continue the treasure hunts through consignment shops, flea markets and newspaper ads.When shopping for tables or chairs, check for sturdiness. If the piece was made well initially, it should still be in pretty good condition even if a bit rough around the edges. Be sure the legs are attached strongly enough to the seat or table top so that it doesnt wobble when firmly pressed. If there are cross braces on the legs, the strength will be greater.If the furniture has drawers, pull a drawer out and look at the construction. Are the corners dovetailed? Are there dust boards or some type of panels between one row of drawers and the one below it? If the answer is yes to both questions, its a good bet the furniture is well made.New but unfinished furniture has great possibilities as well. It used to be this type of furniture was only available in low-quality pine, but lately theyve upgraded their act. Even high-quality museum reproductions are available in unfinished, raw wood.In searching for the best quality for the available dollars, the type of wood the piece is made of will help determine its value. Lower priced pieces are usually made of clear, soft white pine. There is very little graining in this wood so staining it will not add to its beauty. Painting or lacquering it might be the better choice, making the color present the design statement instead of the wood.Medium quality pieces will be made of a knotty pine, which is tougher and harder than white pine. The characteristic knots in the wood add a rustic look to the finished piece. Staining or color washing this wood has its design advantage.Higher quality furniture will be made of maple, birth or aspen wood. All three are quite strong woods and have interesting graining which should be allowed to show through when applying the finishing paint or stain.Finally, luxury pieces (were talking bigger bucks here) are made of cherry and oak solids. This furniture looks great however it is finished.So with a spirit of daring and adventure, go out and find that perfect piece someone else once treasured or that unfinished splendor and make a design statement that is uniquely yours.Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color, available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon.com.
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