The Home Essentials You Should Always Buy New (Plus, the Ones to Get Secondhand!)
We're all about shopping vintage and scoring secondhand treasures, but some home items are simply worth buying new.
Furnishing a new space can be overwhelming and expensive, especially if it's your first place all to yourself. Thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and other secondhand options can be great resources for saving money, reducing your environmental impact and finding some one-of-a-kind treasures, but other essentials are simply not worth the search. If you're in the process of moving or furnishing a new space, check out our tips for navigating what to source used and what to buy new.
Let’s start with an obvious one. You shouldn’t buy your bedding used unless it’s from a trusted family member – actually, still don’t. Bedding is full of years of built-up germs and laundry detergent can only do so much. Do yourself a favor and buy your own personal bedding brand new.
BUY IT: Amazon, $86.80
Buy Used: Coffee Tables
Potted Plant on Rustic Tree Trunk Coffee Table
This potted plant creates some height atop a rustic coffee table. Atlanta designer Alice Cramer says coffee table heights should correspond to seating heights, and with lower seating trending, her coffee table heights average 10-14 inches.
If you’re looking to score a coffee table with some built-in charm and save some money all at the same time, you’re in luck. Being that most are made of wood or metal, a used coffee table is a solid buy. Plus, it's one of the easiest items to upcycle with a fresh coat of paint, and you can easily find a variety of beautiful used coffee tables for under $100.
You may be tempted to buy a used vacuum, and, at first glance, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. However, odds are that if someone is selling a vacuum cleaner, there is a reason. It could have weird smells every time it is turned on, work poorly or, worst of all, there could be electrical issues that could cause damage to your home. Plus, buying new means you'll likely have a better chance at a good warranty.
BUY IT: Amazon, $29.99
Buy Used: Knickknacks
Sophisticated Shelf Display
Yes you want the house to sell itself but often times what attracts the buyer is what they see such as special additions that make the space particularly unique. This one of a kind bookshelf with wood ladder is an example of added character that attracts buyers.
Design by Emily Henderson
Looking to give your home a collected, curated feel? Then buying used is just what the design doctor ordered. Not only are knickknacks a sometimes shockingly cheap item when purchased used, they also tend to be a little more unique and ideal for adding personal touches. Is photography your passion? Add vintage cameras to your bookshelves. Mantel looking a little bare? Score inexpensive candlesticks at a local thrift store. Fill those empty spots with one-of-a-kind items you won't find at big-box stores.
We get it, new throw pillows are surprisingly expensive, and it is very tempting to search the internet for used options, but we do not recommend it. There is no telling how many stains (visible and invisible) are on used pillows when you buy online. Even if you think you have a good idea, you never know how something made of fabric will smell when purchased online. It’s an overall bad idea.
BUY IT: Amazon, $39.99
Buy Used: Outdoor Furniture
Dining Al Fresco
A black and white statement rug and neutral upholstery mix with wood accents and hints of gray create the perfect neutral color palette for this inviting outdoor dining area.
Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography
Say no to overpriced outdoor furniture. Unless you are purchasing new items in the offseason, buying new outdoor furniture adds up. The internet is a great place to look for used pieces, but there are plenty of used options that are local to you as well. Keep a keen eye and don’t be afraid to mix and match complimentary items.
You may be asking yourself why this is even on the list, but people buy used mattresses more often than you’d think. If there is anywhere in your entire home you should drop serious money and buy brand new, it’s your mattress. We’ll forgo all the stats about how much of your life you spend in bed and cut to the chase. This queen mattress is just over $500 and you’ll be thanking yourself the moment you go to sleep.
BUY IT: Amazon, $535.50
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Buy Used: Dining Sets
Elegant Midcentury Modern Dining Room
This elegant, Midcentury Modern dining room flawlessly blends textures, patterns and materials to create a perfect execution of the Midcentury style. The clean lines of the modern table, buffet and chairs are softened by the velour fabric that covers the dining chairs, while the roughness of the wicker rope rug and planter adds texture to the space. These elements combine to give this space an elegant, Midcentury Modern look.
A dining set can easily be one of the most expensive furniture purchases you’ll make for your new space. Finding dining chairs for under $200 per chair is an exhausting feat in and of itself, not to mention the sheer cost of the table itself. People are constantly downsizing, upsizing or restyling their dining spaces, so this is a prime example of an item that can and should be purchased used from local antique shops or sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay or Chairish.
Ten years ago, we may have given different advice. However, times have changed and so have TV prices. A TV that would’ve cost you around $2,000, 10 years ago would now cost around $200 new. This coupled with the fact that electronics are finicky and most new TVs come with at least a one-year warranty is good enough reason to buy new.
BUY IT: Amazon, $298
Buy Used: Wall Art
Make Your Walls Your Own
Don't fear hanging pictures and art on the walls of your rental. Holes can easily be patched over or opt for temporary picture hanging strips. "The gallery wall is still having a moment, when done in a unique way" says Emily Henderson. "Display your favorite photos, prints and unique items like personal mementos to give them the eye-catching showcase they deserve."
Rather than going to a big-box store and overpaying for a generic piece of artwork that looks like it was printed on a giant printer (because it likely was), get creative and search the internet and secondhand stores. You can find unique frames at Goodwill to repurpose and replace with printed photos from your travels or new art from independent artist shops or sellers on Etsy. You can also find other types of wall art like old clocks, mirrors, woven wall hangings and more.
Let us begin by clarifying, this is solely against buying used rugs sight (and smell) unseen. Buying vintage rugs can be one of the best used buys you ever make, but buying online where you are unable to see the rug in person is not always a safe bet. Rugs spend their entire lives being stepped on, absorbing stains and smells and everything in-between. When in doubt, buy new.
Buy Used: Planters
Planters are always more expensive than you expect them to be, but there's no reason to pay that sticker price. Almost anything can be a planter, and vessels of all shapes and sizes can be found online or at antique shops. Obviously, watch out for cracks and chips before purchasing, especially online, but garage sales and antique shops are definitely your friend when it comes to finding homes for your plants.
Just like rugs, a vintage leather sofa at a good price may just be too good to pass up, but if you’re going the fabric route, don’t risk it. Besides all the other risk of buying old, worn out furniture, fabric is almost guaranteed to be a hygienic nightmare. There will almost always be stains, pet hair and new smells every time you sit down. We recommend going with this beauty, which is majorly discounted right now, instead.
BUY IT: Amazon, $267.49 (Originally $799)
Buy Used: Baskets
From baskets as planters to hidden storage to catchalls, baskets are useful in so many areas of the home, but buying from big-box stores can quickly add up. Simple, neutral baskets don't change that much from year to year, so instead of paying full price, look for them at thrift stores, estate sales, antique shops and more.