Keep these tips in mind next time you go thrifting.
There's something thrilling about finding hidden gems while thrifting, but if you're not careful, you could bring home something that should have stayed at the store. It's no secret that secondhand shopping has risen in popularity over the recent years with homeowners now wanting to revamp antique furniture and decor, but not every item you find is a DIY project waiting to happen. "I think the best items to thrift are smaller items," says Andi Morse, an interior designer in Atlanta, Georgia. "Things like books, frames, holiday decor, and even dishware are unique items that give your home personality and make it feel like you."
If you're needing some vintage shopping tips, Morse says carefully observing each piece for nicks and scrapes is a smart way to indicate whether you should purchase the item or not. "Ask yourself some questions: will I be proud to own this in my home? Will I put this on my bookshelf for display? Or will this be an item I give away?"
Meet the Expert
Andi Morse is the owner and founder of Morse Design in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though secondhand shopping can be fun and a smart way to buy some items at a discounted cost, there are a few things you should never throw in your cart. Here are 8 items you should never buy secondhand to keep your home happy and healthy.
Mattresses & Bedding
Morse says a mattress is definitely something she would never buy secondhand. "First, someone else has slept on it and made body indentations that can be uncomfortable for you. Also, bed bugs are things that you never really know about and I would not want to take any chances." The same applies to bedding, regardless of washing it. Mattresses and bedding are always better bought brand new since it's the cleanest and safest. Morse says if you're looking for a good deal on a brand new mattress, keep your eye out for holiday or seasonal sales.
Expecting a little one? It can be tempting to purchase an adorable vintage crib, but this is something you should never buy secondhand for your bundle of joy. Older cribs could have been recalled or be missing crucial hardware pieces, so it's always better to buy anything for a newborn brand new to ensure you're following safety regulations.
Helmets & Hats
Similar to the mattress and bedding, anything worn on the head should never be bought used. Don't even think about trying them on! Helmets and hats can be carriers for lice or other bacteria that's better left never picking up.
Home appliances are essential parts of everyday living that can be costly when bought brand new, but Morse says it's a much better investment than going with a secondhand option. "You don't know what shape they are actually in, how hard they were used and if there is even a warranty left on them."
Luckily, she has a few pointers for saving money if you need to buy appliances. "Black Friday is the best time to shop for appliances. Typically, Black Friday extends for several weeks in today's world and lasts longer than one day. Do your investigating ahead of time and know what you want so you can be on the frontline to purchase when they do go on sale." Other times of the year Morse says you can find sales on appliances (and maybe even bedding and mattresses) are long holiday weekends in the spring and summer. "Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day are also a good time to take advantage of lower pricing."
We love nonstick cookware for it's ease in cleaning stickier meals, but older pieces with this feature aren't the safest and shouldn't be bought secondhand. Vintage nonstick pots and pans were typically made with toxic materials that could be more hazardous if the cookware item is scratched or nicked. Instead, treat yourself to inexpensive newer pieces that are up-to-date with the current health standards.
It goes without saying that you should never buy damaged furniture secondhand, but some of these items can be hard to spot at first, like a broken leg. If you do see a damaged item that you feel you can spruce up and restore to its former glory, Morse recommends really thinking this through before you purchase the item. "You can be the best DIY expert and not realize that the piece will cost a lot more money [to fix], making it not really a deal after all." With that in mind, furniture pieces with missing cushions, wobbly parts, or other questionable attributes might be better to pass on.
Unlike damage furniture, buying secondhand upholstered pieces isn't as frowned upon, but Morse recommends looking over each piece with a careful eye to determine if this item will be a good investment. "Many times a good cleaning can do the trick, but be prepared to put a bit more money in it if needed to make it to your liking. For upholstered furniture I would want to check that it's in really good shape other than possibly needing to recover it or restuff the cushions."
Lamps are 50/50 when it comes to buying secondhand. Sure, there are endless adorable DIY projects you can do with vintage lamps, but there are some safety precautions to keep in mind first. "If you are buying lamps secondhand, I would take them to an expert electrician or lamp shop that can check them out to make sure the wiring and other parts are good. You don't want to plug them in and start a fire." Though some vintage lamps can have hazardous wiring, this can be fixed most of the time with professional rewiring before showing off your vintage find.
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