Interior design help for everyone.
By SARAH LYON
Published on 03/12/23
I was honoured to be quoted in The Spruce discussing items that designers suggest you should never buy second hand. I've copied and pasted it here.
Whether you're an avid thrift shopper or looking to get more into the secondhand scene, you'll want to keep in mind that not all thrift store finds are created equal. Before you grab everything that looks slightly promising and end up with a full cart, you'll want to ensure that the pieces you're bringing home are items that are safe to use and will bring you joy. Not sure what to avoid altogether? Below, experts weigh in to share the items they'll always leave behind when thrifting.
1. Pillows and Blankets
Not everyone is eager to purchase bed linens such as pillows and blankets at the thrift store, no matter how stylish they may appear. "I know they can be washed and dry cleaned, but there is something about them that I never gravitate towards when I'm shopping secondhand," Imani Keal, of Imani at Home, says. "I used to have similar feelings about couches and fabric chairs, but once I found reputable vintage sellers who took great care of their inventory, I've been more open to sourcing secondhand sofas."
You may be thrilled to spot a fancy coffee maker or vacuum cleaner that's majorly marked down, but by purchasing this piece secondhand, you're taking your chances. "Never buy appliances," Grey Joyner, of Grey Joyner Interiors, says. "You never know if they are damaged or if they contain bacteria that could be passed on with usage." Plus, buying new can come with additional perks like years-long warranties that give you extra peace of mind when using the product. "This protects me as the consumer in case anything happens to the appliance while I am using it, and can save me money in the long run," Madeline Scalzi, of Tulips for the Table, says.
3. Cribs and Car Seats
In the name of your little one's safety, do not purchase a crib at the thrift store. "When it comes to keeping your family safe, cribs should always be purchased from a reputable retailer," Trish Knight, of Knight Varga, advises. "It is important that a crib is assembled correctly and meets current safety standards and know that the manufacturer has not recalled the item." The same goes with car seats, the best rule of thumb is to buy new ones when safety is involved.
4. Upholstered Furniture
You may wish to hold back on upholstered furniture unless you have plans for a DIY in your future, Knight says. "Upholstery can easily be hiding dust mites, bed bugs, and potentially larger critters depending on where the item was being stored prior to selling," she explains. "This would include upholstered bed frames, chairs, sofas, benches, and more. The only exception would be purchasing the item for the frame with the intention of fully reupholstering it prior to bringing it into your home."
5. Leaded Crystal
Certain crystal items may look pretty but aren't good for your health! "Lead crystal glasses and dishware may release lead into the food and beverages they encounter," says Jil McDonald, of Jil Sonia Interiors, says. " Any container you drink from, including ones made of lead crystal, or that has an exterior decorative pattern around the rim, such as a coating or glaze, may also release lead and cadmium from the coating or glaze. I would tend to ask myself what the item is made of and if those materials may cause health concerns."
6. Electrical LightingPurchasing lighting secondhand can come with a range of risks. "It may not pass building codes for your home," McDonald explains. "It is always best practice to ask your certified electrician first if the item will pass local electrical codes to maintain safety. Secondly, some lighting may have obvious frayed wiring and needs to be avoided." Furthermore, you'll need to take lightbulbs into consideration. "Some lighting occasionally may require a lightbulb base that is unavailable," she explains, "If you are not knowledgeable about what bulbs are available for a lighting fixture it's probably easiest to avoid the trouble altogether." If you fall in love with a lamp that needs rewiring, you'll also want to factor that cost into your budget, McDonald adds.
7. Pieces in Need of Repair
Scalzi finds herself tempted by pieces that could use a little bit of TLC but has learned to resist most of such finds. "As someone who is a DIY buff by heart, it can be very tempting to purchase a high-end chair that is missing a leg, or a vintage desk with a broken drawer, but I make myself refrain by weighing the pros and cons of the project," she explains. "What materials will realistically be involved in making this piece usable? Will I need to hire a professional to finish the job? Buy a custom part? Unless it is truly a one-of-a-kind piece I can't live without, most often the cost outweighs the benefit."
8. Items That You Just Don't Love
Lastly, there's no need to scoop up something you see at the thrift store simply because it's inexpensive or happens to be having a moment. McDonald says that a good rule of thumb when shopping secondhand is to only get things that speak to you emotionally to avoid excessive clutter in your home. Even if does speak to you, it's okay to leave it behind, it will certainly speak to someone else.
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Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer of Jil Sonia Interior Designs.