T.G.I.F. It’s been a whirlwind of a week! I’m headed home from my organization’s (Rebuilding Together!) annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m having all the feels because I’m so fortunate to spend my days surrounded by a community of talented, amazing and passionate people. What a blessing it is to call them colleagues and friends!
I’m planning to kick off my weekend with my favorite activity – a visit to my local monthly flea market! For all my DC metro folks, if you haven’t been to the Arlington Civitan Flea Market, check it out this weekend. It’s so awesome! I usually have an idea of what I’m looking for days before my shopping trip, and this weekend I’m on the prowl for a desk for my work area…and whatever else I can fit into my car. There’s nothing I enjoy more than hunting for a beautiful piece of furniture! If you’re considering heading out to for a furniture rescue mission this weekend, here are my five tips to help you find your next furniture rehab project:
The acronym MDF stands for Medium Density Wood. MDF is a mixture of wood solids, wax and adhesive bonded together under high temperatures and high pressure to create a wood-like appearance (think most furniture from Ikea). It’s significantly less expensive but much less sturdy than real wood and has a quarter of the life span of a well-constructed piece of wood furniture. Chances are if you come across a piece of MDF furniture at a thrift store or flea market, it’s likely falling apart. While I do own some Ikea furniture and love a good hack, as a general rule of thumb, I stay away from MDF and only purchase real, solid wood.
My seventh grade Catholic school teacher used to say, “Patience is a virtue, offer it up!” As someone who doesn’t naturally exercise patience, this adage is imprinted on my brain. If you’ve never shopped for furniture at a thrift store or flea market, there’s definitely a learning curve. Knowing what to look for takes time but with a little patience, you can train your eye to see potential and beauty in pieces you may have otherwise overlooked.
Take your tools.
I’m terrible at “eye-balling” something – I tend to over/under-estimate the size of a piece of furniture, and I’m really good at convincing myself something will fit if I love it enough. To avoid walking away with furniture that won’t fit into your car or is the wrong dimension for your home (and to feel totally cool and like you know what you’re doing!), always carry a measuring tape.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
If you’re shopping at flea market or on Craigslist, kindly make an offer if the price seems too high. Sellers expect shoppers to haggle and typically account for negotiation when pricing their items. Asking for a lower price than what’s on the tag may seem uncomfortable but the worse the seller can say is no. I find so much satisfaction in getting a great deal when I’m out thrifting that I always make a point to ask for a discount. Sorry, not sorry!
As you probably guessed, I’m a regular at the monthly Arlington Civitan Flea Market and my local Goodwill. Just because you didn’t find that hidden gem the last time you visited a particular flea market or thrift store, doesn’t mean you won’t the next time around. Flea market vendors are constantly switching up their inventory and thrift stores have an influx of donations coming in daily so you never know when you might find that piece that you can’t live without.
Have fun and leave a comment below – I’d love to know about your shopping trip and if these tips worked for you. Happy hunting!