Non-Consumer Photo Essay — An Afternoon Thrifting For Furniture

by Katy on March 3, 2014 · 23 comments

There’s not much that can put me in a guaranteed happy mood like a productive day of thrifting. Add to that, an afternoon spent with my mother and I’m in nirvana.

How happy?

As happy as my under-sink bag holder with recently added googly-eyes!

Wow, that’s happy!

happy bags

When I thrift, I keep an eye out for things my family needs, but I also scour the shops for drastically underpriced items that I can resell for the ol’ college fund. I keep in mind what’s on trend at the moment, like midcentury furnishings.

Check out this midcentury stereo console! Unfortunately, it was priced at $90, which is waaaaay too much for the likes of me.

closed midcentury console

Even though it was pristine. Ooh, ahh . . . .

open console

This midcentury Bassett brand dresser was priced at $65, (although everything that day was 50%-off, so it was actually $32.50!) I wavered for at least a good half an hour on this one and finally left it at the shop. Why? Because the the top surface was a laminate, and I have lost my reselling confidence over being unable to sell my drop-leaf table that I was sure would be an easy sale. (It’s been on my front porch once December, and puts me in a decidedly unhappy mood.)

Update: I just now sold the midcentury table! It was only for $5 more than I paid for it, but I had given up all hope. Yay!

I’ve actually been keeping an eye out for this kind of wide-rather-than-tall dresser for our bedroom, and probably should have bought this as a placeholder, but I couldn’t get over the laminate top. (The rest was solid wood and the drawers had lovely dovetailing, so the quality was otherwise excellent.)

My Instagram followers were in favor of the purchase.

midcentury bargain

I might have loaded up the back of the minivan with the dresser if it weren’t for these vintage Lane lacquer and brass nightstands. So glam, so Halston-y, almost a Tony Montana “Say hello to my little friend” vibe. And priced at $15 apiece, I was unable to resist. I did a quick internet search and saw that someone was selling this exact same set on eBay for $750! So yes, I bought them.

I now have them up on Craigslist, so we’ll see what happens. (Knowing my recent luck, I may be owning these for awhile.)

lane nightstands

The one purchase I made this day for me was this perfect vintage velvet love seat which set me back a whopping $30! I’ve been keeping an eye out for years for a small couch for our downstairs bedroom/TV room. It had only been comfortably seating three people, (which was a never ending problem for a family of four.)

Here’s what I love about this love seat:

  • The gold velvet with chocolate brown piping looks great with the rest of my velvet furnishings.
  • Sitting on a love seat with a teenage boy makes them accidentally snuggle with their mother.
  • The slim lines are both pleasing to the eye, and help the piece not take up too much space.
  • It was $30, people! (And my mother paid for it.)

The addition of this purchase completed the shop-until-your-minivan-is-full afternoon, and is still filling me with happiness. (And before you ask, I spent a couple of hours shampooing the love seat with my Bissell rug shampooer; and yes, I thoroughly inspected it for bedbugs.)


I love this love seat so much, I might even put a pair of googly-eyes on it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lacy Cooper March 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

I have such a hard time finding pieces in Portland. I have been looking just for my house and office for MONTHS and find things waayyy over priced or just not out there. I frequent goodwill and craigslist daily though everything is so picked over or double the actual worth. What is your secret?!?


Katy March 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

The Goodwills overcharge for furniture, and often only have a small space for for it anyway. The Goodwill outlets have huge furniture sections, and the Salvation Army store on 82nd both price things affordably.


Hannah March 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Just curious, where were you when you found these pieces. I’ve been looking for furniture for my apartment, and I live it Portland. I totally understand if you don’t want to give up your secrets, though. 🙂


Rachel March 3, 2014 at 11:50 am

I have the exact same Bassett dresser!!! We use it as a buffet in our dining room, haha. The laminate top is the only part I don’t like about it as well, just because ours has a little chip in it that I don’t really know how to fix. But otherwise I freaking love that dresser 🙂


Katy March 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I wish I’d bought it, but I simply didn’t have space.


patti March 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

You have such a good eye! I think you ought to play up on the “American Hustler” aspect of those lacquer and brass nightstands, especially since the Oscars were just held.


Megyn March 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I’m so jealous of your mid century finds! I’m desperate to replace our Ikea furniture with solid wood, mid century pieces (partly because my firefighter hubby showed me a video of how quickly rooms go up with non-solid wood furniture). The problem in Austin is that the owners of the mid century vintage stores check the thrift stores daily, buy up the lower priced pieces and slap on a huge tag. I can almost guarantee they would have bought that dresser than listed it for $400+. Our Goodwill Outlet has a miniscule furniture section, so I’ve been trying Salvation Army, but they are also over-pricing stuff. Savers tends to be the best for furniture prices.


Alexia March 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hey Katy, you do know about the “Sold Listings” option when you’re checking out prices on eBay, right? I generally find those to be a more reliable indicator of what I might expect to get when I sell something. People can list something for whatever price they want, but what people have been willing to pay is what the item is technically “worth”. You can also look at “Completed Listings”, which shows both sold and unsold items and also gives you an idea as to what willingness-to-pay is for an item.


Katy March 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I am a big fan of “Completed Listings,” but sometimes items are rare enough to not have been recently listed.



A. Marie March 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Speaking as someone who’s probably a bit older than most of you (58.5), I must say that the resurgence of this “midcentury” furniture leaves me shaking my head (although it probably has my parents smiling in their graves). I fled from home rebelling against this stuff in 1972, and wouldn’t have it in my house if you paid me. But, again, this probably just confirms my nouveau senior citizen status.


Karen March 3, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Oh boy, do I agree with you! Another 58 year old here, and I couldn’t wait to get away from the furniture of my childhood home. I’m sure that growing up with the sturdy mid-century furniture my parents favored is the reason I veered toward Victorian or 1920s antiques in my adult life.

But to each her own!


Katy March 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

The dresser actually had an unpleasant 70’s vibe which was also why it did not follow me home.



Allison March 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

It seems that “mid-century modern” is on the way out. I see many blogs with Scandinavian influences these days. It might be why you’re finding so many pieces at Goodwill. People are getting rid of them…


Cheapchick March 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

You could make a couple of eyeball pillows, they would go nicely 🙂


Diane March 4, 2014 at 5:14 am

Bedbugs can be down inside the sofa. If I were you, I would puff some DE into the crevices in the seat and arms and along the edges of the seat under the cushions. Also, maybe turn it over, rip off a little of the under fabric and get some DE in there. Better to be safe than sorry like me.


Barbara March 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

I just have to say…I find the whole craze for Mid-Century Modern furniture a hoot. Even the name makes me a little giggly. This is the furniture my parents made do with in the 1950’s…and that we sold for pennies at garage sales in the 1990’s because we all HATED it. As they say…what goes around, comes around.


Linda from mass March 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

I am so obsessed with bedbugs, so I have not purchased any used furniture except from people I know. I would love to get two small accent chairs for my bedroom but so nervous about the pesky bugs.


Diane March 5, 2014 at 4:48 am

Be nervous! I had an invasion several years ago and as a result have stopped thrifting. They are horrible critters. They get into the crevices in wood or upholstered furniture and can remain dormant forever. One of the worst experiences of my life!


Terri W. March 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

I have the very same Tupperware plastic bag holder, purchased at a yard sale for 50 cents or so. Never thought about putting googly eyes on it, but now I must! It IS a happy face!


Melissa March 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

I was born in ’67 so a lot of the mid-century stuff was still around when I was a kid, too. I was looking at some mid-century modern decor on Pinterest the other day and was laughing and thinking, Really?

Then it occurred to me that one day, the 80’s will be back. Aaaaaccckkkk!!!


clothespin April 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I have a vintage stereo cabinet! My friend gave it to me 2 years ago. The stereo stuff inside was long gone so we took the speaker fabric out of the front, fitted a plastic corrigated board to replace it and covered that with fabric to match our living room. With some stand alone shelves (like for dinner plates) inside, it houses the wifi internet, the DVD player, Roku, and DVDs. And, is a great home for a pretty house plant on top.

In fact, nearly everything in our house is used… we did buy a new recliner as we had a baby 1 1/2 years ago and I live in the chair nursing. Most of the furniture was given to us… or we got at a donation center (we were in the Bastrop wildfire so donations were needed and available).

Luckily, with the outpouring of support from all over, I’ve not heard of anyone getting bedbugs from their donated stuff – and it’s been 2 1/2 years since the fire. Though, it is something to ask other fire folks about… I guess most of us got “lucky” that way.

But, that said, I’m very hesitant to buy used furniture now simply because of the dumb bugs.


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