Decorating from Smart Garage Sale Purchases

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If you’re decorating your apartment, consider skipping the furniture stores. Garage sales offer some great opportunities to find good furniture at low costs. And while you can find some amazing pieces that just need a little repair work, you can also find furniture, art and other decorative items that are practically new.

What to Look for at Garage Sales
Before you head out to the weekend’s garage sales, you should have a clear idea in your mind of what you’re looking for. This goes beyond deciding between a love seat and a sofa — you want to sure of the style you’re creating in your apartment: going out and buying what appeals in the moment is the fastest way to wind up with an ‘eclectic’ design.

You should also decide just how much work you’re willing to do on your finds. Luann Udell, of Keene, New Hampshire, has decorated her home almost entirely with pieces she’s found at garage sales. She says: “Unless you are already experienced with doing repairs, don’t buy a broken piece intending to fix it. We ended up with an attic full of useless furniture that way! Or give yourself a time limit (30 days) to do the repair. If you still haven’t done it, move it on in your next garage sale.”

Jill Valeri, a long-time garage sale shopper from Ellicott City, Maryland, recommends looking for real wood pieces over all other options: “You can strip it, sand it, paint it and start all over again when you change your colors. Not true with particle board… Be extremely wary of upholstered pieces. They hold odors and allergens.”

Once you’ve found that perfect piece of furniture, it’s time to buy it. At garage sales, there’s a little room to bargain. Not all sellers will go much lower than their posted price, but you can try offering $5 or $10 less than the asking price and see what happens. After all, you can always pay full price later.

How to Find Good Garage Sales
It used to be that if you wanted to find a garage sale, your only hopes were seeing a sign around the neighborhood or hope that maybe a seller had taken out an ad in the local classifieds. But these days, there are quite a few online options for hunting garage sales. Sites like Garage Sale Hunter and Garage Sale Source provide lists of garage sales organized by area. You might also be able to find some great deals through Craigslist and Freecycle.

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