When updating décor or moving, you’re faced with the often challenging question of what to do with your old furniture. We spoke to Circle Furniture’s Boston location manager Linda Maguire to get some tips about dealing with pieces you already own.
Linda recently completed a downsizing move, so she was freshly well versed on how to approach this conundrum.
If you know you’ll be making big changes, like moving or redecorating many rooms, give yourself plenty of time to plan.
Many of the suggestions here require research and multiple steps to execute. Giving yourself some runway means you won’t be left making hasty decisions or suffering undue stress.
The first objective is to determine what your ultimate outcome is. If, for instance, you’re moving, determine how much space you’ll have and how you’d like to fill it.
Will your current pieces fit nicely into the new space? Do you need more or fewer items? Would you like to start fresh or carry over some of what you already have?
For those redesigning or updating a space, consider if anything you have will or could fit with your new look.
Throughout the process, keep your finished look ideals front of mind.
With your end goal in mind, it’s time to make the first big decision: Are you going to keep it or not? There are options either way. Pieces that you’re going to keep will fall into one of three categories.
Do you have an heirloom piece you know you’ll want to use in the future, or to gift to one of your children when they’re on their own? For pieces that just aren’t going to fit into your new scheme, but that you can’t bear to part with, storage is a good choice.
Before you go looking for storage, make sure you know exactly all the pieces you’ll be storing; this will determine how large of a space you’ll need. Then start the storage unit search.
Make sure to measure your chosen unit before you commit to it: storage unit measurements aren’t always exact, as Linda learned, so make sure the specific unit you’re moving your pieces into will actually fit everything.
Do you have a piece you love that just needs a little face-lift or color change to incorporate well into your new space or look? Reupholstering, painting, or refinishing are options to consider.
There are any number of ways to update an old piece or make it work with new pieces. Find a craftsperson you trust to help you through the process to bring those beloved older items into your updated vision.
This is the perfect time to fix what’s broken, cracked, or marred! You do not want to continue to be thwarted by that drawer that doesn’t close smoothly or a curio cabinet door with a bum hinge in your dream space.
Make it right, now—or don’t. If fixing a piece doesn’t ultimately make financial sense or is going to entail more effort than you want to spend, maybe it’s time that piece goes into the “don't keep” pile.
Some pieces just need to go. If, in the wise words of Marie Kondo, something just doesn’t or won’t “spark joy,” you need to give it the heave ho. Here, you have five choices.
If your piece has value, you can try to sell it. Linda warns, however, that this pursuit is difficult to turn into a rewarding reality. “People just don’t want to pay anything for used furniture,” she says. Even very nice furniture almost certainly won’t get you the price you think, or even know, it’s worth.
Selling can take two forms: sell it yourself or consign it. If you do it yourself, you’ll get all the money, but getting that money takes time and effort. You can sell through an online marketplace or by throwing a yard sale.
If you consign it, you’ll get less, but someone else does the work. There aren’t a lot of places that consign furniture these days, but in Massachusetts and the greater Boston area, Linda recommends Furniture Consignment Gallery and Houndstooth Consignors.
Is your “time to go” furniture still in good working order but not worth the effort to sell? There are plenty of organizations you can donate to including Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and the Salvation Army. Some of these organizations will even pick up your items at no charge.
This is a feel-good option. While donating is a nice act, it can be more rewarding to personally hand over a piece, especially if it’s one you have particularly valued.
Ask around to see if anyone you know, or anyone they know, needs what you’re looking to rehome. Or post your piece online with a service like Facebook marketplace or Craigslist.
There’s always the easy and often highly reliable alternative of just leaving a piece on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign on it. This is typically a better choice if you live in an urban environment. And because “sidewalk gift” can quickly turn to “garbage eyesore,” you will need to change tact if you’re offering isn’t scooped up within a day or two.
When this does work, however, what a joy.
Has your old piece of furniture sparked its last joy, for you or anyone else? It’s time to just throw it out. Depending on where you live, you may be able to leave it out for your garbage person to take, or there may be certain “big item” days when you can leave larger garbage out with your regular trash.
In some areas, you’ll need to get special permission to have a big item picked up. Check your local rubbish service rules and regulations.
There’s always the local dump or private take-it-away services. You can load up your vehicle or borrow your uncle George’s truck, and haul unwanted items to your local trash heap. Or find a service like Got Junk? to do it for you.
Moving and redecorating are stressful. But the end goal is a space you’ll love to live in for years to come.
Keep your vision on the dream space you’re making, knowing that each step of your “what to do with your old furniture” journey is contributing to that ultimate joy.