It's another installment of Frugal Fridays! Today I am going to be discussing a topic that I am very passionate about and that being Vintage vs Flat pack Furniture. By Flat pack, I mean the cheap plastic / mdf stuff you buy in boxes at Walmart / Target / Ikea and assemble yourself.
When I first moved to the U.S. my apartment was predominantly flat pack because I honestly didn't know any better.
Now, my house is filled with Mid Century Modern Amazing that is worth more than flat pack, is better quality than flat pack and I paid less than flat pack.
I'll show a few photos of some of my furniture in my current (tiny) North Carolina house.
I'm sorry for the shabby photo quality- I had taken these on my phone. Obviously my China Cabinet now houses all of my Fiestaware.
Also, the Dining Room chairs had been reupholstered by the previous owner, and the covering on the table was a fitted table cloth (which also belonged to the previous owner) and is there to protect the beautiful wood underneath.
I also have a bedroom set (Bed, Nightstands, Vanity Table and Dresser) in the same collection which is Drexel Counterpoint by John Van Koert from 1957. The wood is solid mahogany and cherry and photos simply cannot do it justice. I love this stuff.
It will look SO much better in my new, beautiful house in St. Louis (obviously I'll provide photos once it's in there!) but for now, this shabby little house is what I have to work with!
So, next question, how much did I pay for all of this? Which includes:
-4 Dining Chairs
$800. Some of the items I bought from one seller (an elderly lady moving into a home) and other items I picked up by chance at a Brick a Brack / Flea Market type store that astonishingly were from the same collection.
After I started collecting Drexel Counterpoint, I realized how much it was worth (a lot- a bit of googling will tell you that!) but it's value is unimportant to me as I'm never parting with it anyhow! The quality and usability is the important thing!
Now, let's say we were to go to Walmart and buy similar items but in Flat pack (and modern, and not designer, and inferior quality). How much would that cost us?
-Side Table $168.00
-Coffee Table $279.99
-China Cabinet $612.99
-Dining Table $599.00
-4 Dining Chairs $258.00
-Vanity Table $792.00
-Double Bed $375.00
-Full Dresser $129.00
-2 Nightstands $519.99
GRAND TOTAL: $5623.94
Which means that my Retro Bargain Hunting potentially saved me over $4800! And I didn't have to assemble any of it!
So how do you find these retro bargains!? Try the following!
Craigslist: If you live in the U.S. this website could be your best friend! There are often multitudes of bargains to be had. Just find your local area and type in 'vintage' or 'retro' or 'mid century' and you'll get a tonne of search results! Obviously not everything on Craigslist is a bargain but there are often a lot of Estate Sales or people who need to get rid of stuff quick and are willing to take bottom dollar. Just make sure that you use discretion when purchasing off Craigslist. If you are going to a seller's house, take your husband / significant other / friend / family member with you. Unfortunately this is 2012 and you don't know who's out there!
Flea Markets: I am a HUGE fan of Flea Markets! It often takes a lot of sifting through junk to get to the quality items but more often than not there are bargains to be had. Not all flea markets are equal though- some are better than others. Just start searching what Flea Markets are happening in your local area and decide which one you like best!
Antique Malls: Sometimes these places can be outrageously expensive because the dealers know the value of the merchandise. However, that's not to say you can't pick up a bargain from time to time! Also, you can usually haggle the price down (which you can also do at Flea Markets).
Classifieds: Where I live in NC there is a 'yardsales' online classified ad service which also allows listing of various furniture / other items up for sale. In St. Louis, there are free newspapers which have classifieds of everything from cars to furniture to jewelry. As with Craigslist though, use discretion if you're going to anybody's house!
Charity Shops: Such as Goodwill or Salvation Army- they often have amazing furniture bargains! Some of the stuff is junk, but you just have to educate yourself as to what is quality and what is worth your hard earned cash!
After all is said and done, don't just buy furniture that is 'good enough for now'. If you start buying cheap (under $100) plastic furniture, it's probably going to break or look shabby in a year or two and you'll have to replace it. You're better off buying quality from the beginning- something that you can keep forever! Obviously I learned this the hard way myself!
Remember, quality doesn't necessarily mean costly! Just check out the places I suggested above and you'll never know what you may find!