Suggestions on Searching for Second Hand Love

See, I’d just purchased my home and was seeking some new (to me) furnishings. In particular, a chest of drawers for the bedroom. My ‘Baltimore Cottage’ was big on charm but short on closet space. A solution was needed, as my post-college flat-pack special was falling apart. Even though it would house my collection of black t-shirts, I wanted something a little more real, perhaps with a bit of history and sturdiness. Dare I say — more adult.

TIP – Identifying your needs before shopping. Knowing what you need out of an item before you go shopping prevents you from bringing an item into your home that doesn’t check all the boxes. Consider committing these needs to a checklist on paper or a checklist app so you can refer to it when assessing a piece of furniture. This discourages additional clutter stress and spending hard earned dollars on unnecessary purchases.

At this time, I was working in Hunt Valley, so along that certain stretch of York Road, there were many antique and consignment shops where I could duck-in on a lunch hour and find my holy grail. But all the English burled wood, high Deco, and brass-and-mahogany pieces left me a little flat — and in sticker shock. I had a budget, but I was wary to spend it all in one place. I certainly would, if something presented itself as the dresser-for-all-seasons. But I wasn’t about to justify eating peanut butter for a few months for something ‘just okay’ and leaving me ‘meh’.

Tip – To prevent putting pressure on yourself when shopping, don’t make a day out of going out to find that one item. You will end up settling for something you don’t really want or spending more on an item you could get for less somewhere else. In this case, if you haven’t found the perfect organizing solution for your need, it’s best to walk away empty-handed!

Goodwill and Salvation Army searches provided unfruitful. Mostly finding ghastly Colonial Revival pieces that still haunt me from the mid-Seventies. Styles aside, just about everything had peeling veneer, worn corners and a myriad of bumper and band stickers. Sure, I was slumming, but, ultimately, I did not want to bring back a piece of the slum to home.

Tip – If you are on a budget, don’t bank on or settle for finding something at a second-hand store. Yes, these places are great for finding functional rehab pieces but not always. Remember you have a specific set of needs that need to be fulfilled. Aesthetic Plus function matter

By random chance, a friend was relocating from his Charles Village apartment and was downsizing, as he was to begin cohabitation with a significant other. While some books and collectibles were what brought me into his basement, I noticed a tall chest of drawers, dust-covered and lurking in a corner. After testing the five drawers and kicking the proverbial tires, I asked about it. He shrugged and said, “It was here when I moved in.” At last, the ‘finders/keepers” rule worked to my advantage. Twenty minutes later, I wrestled it into my Toyota wagon.

Tip – Don’t be afraid to ask. Many times you will find that other people aren’t as attached to their belongings as you might think and are very willing to part with things. If it looks like it is being underutilized feel free to ask a friend about the story behind it and they may be willing to part ways as was the case for me. Other organizing solutions to consider are Neighborhood boards like Nextdoor or community bulletins. They are great ways to freely ask for recommendations; saves time AND money!

I had the benefit of knowing a furniture builder and refinisher. After a quick negotiation on price and timeline, my brand new used dresser went under the sander. An anxious month passed, and I finally had it back. The look was unvarnished, with just a coat of wood oil. I dragged it upstairs, nestled it in a corner and put it to work.

Tip – Structural integrity is most important. Don’t judge furniture by its exterior. There are people that are handier than you who can very easily, with the right tools, refurbish a worn out piece. If you find something for free, consider spending your budget on fixing up something that is still sturdy and functional if it fits your organizational needs. Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle; this goes for many tired household items. You never know where your next proud and favorite household item will come from. Just takes a little time and creativity.

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