A New Life in Furniture

Over the last few years, many people have found value in buying pre-owned items from clothing to household items to furniture. Some of the most enjoyable moments in buying used is when you find something far better than you would have encountered had you gone to a big box store! It’s like winning the lottery!!

Pre-owned furniture has some definite advantages over buying new including no out gassing in your home, a second life product, no raw materials used in it’s second life, more of your money stays local , less expensive – more value, more variety, higher quality AND one less new item purchased encourages fewer new items made therefore reducing production waste. My rule for purchasing anything is to try to find a used product first before looking at a new one. I have found that I can most often find what I am looking for and often find better than I expected in a new item.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of a local furniture consignment shop. Lisa Gaynor of “Design it With Consignment” has always loved furniture and made a career of it when she opened her first 4000 sq ft shop off S. Lamar six years ago. Her upscale consignment shop features brand names and high quality for 50 – 75% of the original purchase price. Lisa is moving her showroom to Steck and Mopac, expanding to 10,000 s.f. of showroom space. The new showroom will open sometime in February.

I talked with Lisa to find out how she finds quality home furnishings for her shop and she happily shared her secrets. In an upholstered piece of furniture, you should feel only the padding, not the frame, when you press down on the arm. Next, look at the cushion to inspect the zipper. A pocket for the zipper tap is a good sign. A better quality cushion will have the foam inside the cushion wrapped in netting, muslin or olefin.

Case goods are any piece of wood furniture. When looking for quality, run your hand along the back side of a hutch or dresser to feel for solid wood in lieu of particle board. In drawers, look for interlocking joints. Veneers are not always bad, especially if the veneer is a thick layer of a rare wood that has been artfully applied to a solid base. A well done job is tricky, and requires years of training. If a good veneer is done on a solid wood base, that is a good sign and is found on quality table tops, to prevent them from warping or cupping over time.

Lisa has found many simple and crafty ways to take care of and repair furniture. Simply keeping it clean with a microfiber cloth or regular vacuuming will make a big difference. Dust, dog hair and crumbs get caked into the upholstery which damages the fabric and is also not healthy. It is very rare to find a high quality resale shop that will take upholstery furniture which lived with a smoker.

For very delicate upholstery like tapestry or sequined pieces, she uses a panty hose over the vacuum hose! Clever!

Wood furniture is porous and needs to be moisturized. Lisa uses Natchez Solution ; a solution of lemon oil and beeswax. She conditions her wood 2 times a year and applies it with her bare hands because it is good for skin too! Let it sit for 20 minutes and polish off. This will also cut down your future dusting time.

For heat rings or overly waxed furniture, Lisa uses a product by Old Masters called Cleaner and Wax Remover It is very thin, like water and is applied with 4/0 very fine steel wool. Gently scrub the waxy build up in the direction of the wood grain and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. The wood gets a white haze which is unattractive, but you can feel that the wax is gone. Buff off the haze with a soft cloth. The next day, use Howard Restor-A-Finish with a color to match your wood. Apply with 4/0 steel wool, (in the direction of the wood grain) let it soak in. This may take 20 minutes to overnight, depending on the condition of the piece, and remove with soft cloth. 6 months later begin your Natchez treatments 2 times per year.

Lisa also likes to use the Melaleuca laundry products as a superior spot cleaner on upholstery. She recommends using the lowest concentration and strengthen as needed until the spot is removed. Always test on an inconspicuous spot first.

Lisa’s new showroom is located at 3301 Steck Avenue and the phone number is 512-301-9800

Visit her website at www.dwconsignment.com. Lisa was kind enough to share so many of her time honored tricks and secrets, but I am sure she kept some to herself. Visit her lovely show room and you will be amazed at the quality and beauty of her furniture with a new life.