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Furnishings- New, Used, or Custom?

When in the process of remodeling, adding on, or a simple makeover to your home, the final piece is selecting and adding the furniture to complete the space. But do you buy new, used, or something custom? And what do you look for in a custom piece? We answer these questions by looking at the three approaches to selecting and buying furniture.

A custom piece is a good way to make your room stand out


The first and most common option is to buy new furnishings as a local department or home goods store. In this scenario, you must decide what piece looks the best to complete your space, as determined by your budget and urgency to get a piece. Prices will range greatly in this category, but do not always go on price alone. Though this is not a guide to selecting new furniture always remember the adage, “you get what you pay for.” In short, quality items tend to last a lot longer.


The second way is buying used. If you are on a tight budget, and possibly crafty, consider looking at stores like goodwill and salvation army. You may be able to find a lightly used piece that can be patched back together with some love. For the more image conscious person, many people look long and hard through various antique stores, online boutique shops, and vintage shops in order to find a piece that is original. To them, it is worth the extra price and time to stand out from the crowd. Though these pieces are used, they are often not cheap; but they do offer a story and a sense of owner pride.


The third method is to have a piece custom fabricated to your liking, much like tailoring a custom suit. This is inherently more expensive, as the craftsman is spending time both designing and building your piece; this extra time is reflected in the price tag. The benefit to this method is that your piece is an exact reflection of your personal style within your space. If you want to showcase your love of Madagascar tree frogs reflected in their wooded elements, then the builder can work with you to achieve that look.

Though it may seem like custom is the only way to go to stand out for one of a kind pieces, it is not always the best choice. You may be limited by budget, time, or just lack of knowing where to look. If you do have the money, then you just need to leave yourself extra lead time and know the right fabrication company to contact. Start by looking through some social media sites with the keywords “wood and steel” “local custom furnishings” or “local fabricators” for example and see what pops up. If you do get some leads through that, then check out their website, most artists and craftspeople today will have one. From there you can see their style, material palette, and possibly prices. You can most likely set up a visit to see their shop in person, as most would be flattered and excited at the opportunity available.

Not all shops are created alike though. If you do find yourself at a shop for a field trip, ask to see some examples of their past work. If they do not have any examples, you may try and see if they would consider making a small mock up of some part of your idea for a small price. In this way you can evaluate the craftsmanship firsthand without putting a ton of money down. Be sure you are in the right type of shop for your vision however. A shop that specializes in shaker style doors and cabinets will not be the right fit if you need a retro mod 1960’s style airplane wing table. On that note, there are shops that will specialize in retro fitting, restoring, or re-purposing old furniture, thus tying in the used with the custom.


So which is best, new, used, or custom? It all depends on your needs, your budget, and your style. If you feel you are in the dark about what fits your space, consider talking with an interior designer or architect, they can help point you in the right direction.

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2617 W. Huron St. #2 Chicago, IL 60612

p: 312-809-9618

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©2019 Orlynbock Design, LLC