If you don't share the moment's obsession with all things midcentury modern, it turns out you can score some great deals on high-quality antiques of a certain style called "brown furniture"—Victorian, Art Deco, and French Provincial. Demand is way down for these styles of furniture, and prices have fallen accordingly. It certainly is easier to pick a few items out of a catalog, but there's something to be said for the history that comes along with an antique or two. Plus, it's a greener choice, and not just in the obvious way.
New furniture, even relatively expensive new furniture, tends to be constructed with a lot of glue. There's glue in fiberboard and chipboard, and glue sticks veneers of increasingly precious high-quality wood to the lower-quality stuff that you can't see. Most effective wood glues are made with some amount of formaldehyde, so new furniture tends to off-gas from the adhesive and newly applied finish.
So buying an antique means not only do you keep something perfectly good from going to the landfill, but you also keep the air in your home cleaner. And that's green all the way around.
The San Francisco Chronicle's got a whole article on the subject, which includes a list of Bay Area consignment stores and auction houses.
image via SF Chronicle accessed at link above