I try to write posts covering frequently emailed questions… to save you time in emailing, and me time having to respond! This is what we can a win-win sitch!
This is by far the most frequently asked question… we get asked this several times a week:
Truth be told, I wish someone would answer this question for ME! And this is why I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this post.
So here’s the thing… IT DEPENDS on so many things!
- what is furniture going for in your geographic location?
- how much did you spend (if any) on the original piece?
- how much did you spend on supplies?
- how many hours did you put into it?
- how much do you love it?
- is it marketable?
Complicated, right? Let’s start with the first item:
1) What is furniture going for in your area?
Be active on craigslist so you have an idea of what people are selling things for. Do rolltop desks go for $35? or $350? Are people posting their $350 rolltop desks over and over because nobody is buying it? You can find out a lot just by being familiar with what’s being sold and for how much.
2) How much did you spend on the original piece?
Did you buy it at a garage sale for $50? Did you pull it out of a dumpster of off a burnpile? Did you inherit it from your granny?
3) How much did you spend on supplies?
Did you buy stripper, wood putty, sandpaper, primer, paint, glaze and poly just for this one piece of furniture? All these things figure in. Bottom line? You’re trying to make a profit, right?
4) How many hours did you put into fixing it up?
This question is really asking: HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR TIME TO YOU? I personally enjoy working on furniture, and don’t bother keeping track. But I know people that have spreadsheets that log their hours, and actually give themselves and hourly amount of money and then add everything up at the end. I do however give this some consideration when pricing a piece. If I spent tons of time doing tedious painting, I want to feel like my efforts are valued by someone else… so I may put a higher price on it.
5) How much do you love it?
If you finish an end table, and absolutely LOVE IT and have the perfect place for it in your home… consider keeping it! Especially if the piece has sentimental value (like if it was passed down to you, or if there’s a special memory attached. Let’s say for example you fixed up an end table all pretty-like. End tables aren’t going to go for much, because nobody is going to pay $150 for something to put their coffee on while they’re reading the paper. If you feel like you could probably get $50 out of it, but you know you’ll regret selling it for $50…. KEEP IT! Ain’t nothin’ worse than seller’s remorse! hehe!
6) Is it marketable?
Is this a piece that people are looking for and buying? Is it solid wood or laminate? Is it structurally stable? Is it neutral enough that it could go with anyone’s design preference? (At the same time, don’t let this dictate how you decide to fix up your piece… do some pieces that are FUN and YOU! Otherwise fixing up furniture will start to feel like a job and not a hobby that pays) Here’s the thing… people are selling their china cabinets, not looking for china cabinets to buy. One of my favorite pieces of furniture took the longest to sell… because, A) it was a china cabinet, and B) it was BRIGHT ORANGE! But it was gorgeous. And I knew once the right person saw it, they would just hafta HAVE IT! And they did! But it took several months, and I was ok with that. Because I had a BLAST doing this piece!
Those are the best answers I can give you… was that helpful at all? I hope so! I too wish there was a magical formula!
As far as WHERE we sell furniture, we primarily use craigslist. If you’re interested, we wrote a post on How (and how NOT) to post an ad on craigslist.
We’re also fortunate enough to have a boat-load of awesome loyal readers that happen to love our style and effort, and often purchase an item before we even have time to post in on craigslist… and that is AWESOME. Start a blog or facebook page, and build up a clientele that knows your work is quality, and loves your taste. Word of mouth is stellar!
Did I miss anything? Do you have any specific questions? Let’s start a forum in the comment section!
P.S… you may also be interested in these posts we wrote once upon a time:
Robert Pisarcik says
I have an artistic and uniquely rustic and truly a one of a kind natural live edge wood design with custom made tempered bronze tinted glass tabletop.
This is a ponderosa pine base which has a natural burn pattern from a forest fire circa 1910 and natural blue gray lichen attached to the entire table. Hand crafted custom made designed iron welded table base. Also has rounded trough inlayed area which can also be used for your own unique decorative design.
Provenance is from sellers property in Otero County near the mountain village of Cloudcroft, New Mexico with photos as it was found and the removal process.
7 Feet in Length, 33 inches in width, 34 inches in height and a 45-inch distinctive extended natural root system.
You have to see to appreciate. I have done craigslist but this table is for individuals’ in a higher income bracket. How would you propose I best market this item.
Bethany Sy says
I have no idea where you would sell something like that, but I would love to see a picture!!
Barry Flash says
People will totally pay $150 for an end table if it is finely made. Totally depends on your workmanship and clientele.
I see this post is 3 years old, but I wanted to thank you for your input! I am selling this set that I just finished, and pricing it is so hard!! I may be on the high end but this IS the Bay Area so we’ll see :).
I have a shop and rent out about 25 spaces. The real wood dressers, beds, and buffets are the best sellers. Price also depends on the quality of the furniture and the quality of the paint job. You can sell a lot of painted dressers for 125-150, but I have one girl that sells hers for 350-495.00. But her finish is beautiful, and her furniture is top quality, but hers sits a little longer. At the end of the month, they each sell about 4000.00.
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Great article! I’ve only recently decided to give furniture painting a try, and your tips were really useful. LOVE that orange dresser!
Judi in the UK
I love coming to your blog…. I see such creative ideas… I think I’m creative as in I love to paint and draw and make stuff… Now if I could find the fruniture to play with that would be awesome…
LOVE The Orange piece….
Laura HH says
I am going to add what is the quality of the furniture. There are lots of particle board pieces you can fix up but they are still poor quality. I look for pieces that are hard-wood and well built.
Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos says
Laura… I’m TOTALLY adding that to the list (when I get home)… at the mall with the babes! 🙂
Broke Ass Home says
My hint on selling furniture on Craigslist is to include pictures of the befores so people can SEE the work that went into it 🙂
Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos says
VERY good point!