10 DIY Hacks to Know When Buying Secondhand Finds

published Mar 28, 2017
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sheer panels in a large living room
(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

It’s not easy nowadays to find vintage goods in great condition and at a bargain price. Dealers and flea market sellers are savvy to the demand for well-made, one-of-a-kind furniture and home goods. But that’s not to say you can’t score a deal on an almost-good castoff and improve upon it with a little elbow grease. So roll up your sleeves and use these tried-and-true hacks to update just about anything you pick up at a secondhand shop or on Apartment Therapy Marketplace.

Double Duty Hot Tools

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

1. Now is the time to let go of your ban on ironing, temporarily that is. Heat up your iron to remove damaged, glued-on wood veneer from furniture. Tutorial via Decor Adventures.

2. Break out your hair dryer to remove water rings on wood furniture. You’ll want to put the nozzle attachment on your dryer and by turning it on the cool setting to start.

Break into the Pantry

(Image credit: Monique Larroux)

3. Pantry staples like olive oil and vinegar can restore the appearance of vintage, scratched up furniture. See video proof of this combo’s effectiveness.

4. Looking for a way to rid yourself of the old musty smell from vintage upholstered furniture? Use a bottle of odor-eating vodka, a tip from Finding Home Online.

5. Pristine vintage linens can cost you an arm and a leg. If you come across some yellowed ones for cheap, wash them with some baking soda and salt. One Good Thing by Jillee restores gorgeous linens with this simple hack.

6. Sometimes vintage furniture comes with brass hardware caked in paint. Don’t let this faze you. Hartwood Roses uses a crockpot to peel back the years from aged hardware.

Handyman Basics

(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

7. Vintage lamps usually have outdated and faulty wiring but don’t fear. In a few simple steps from 4 The Love of Wood, you can rewire a lamp using a basic kit.

8. Have an almost perfect set of vintage glasses? Fix a chip in a wine glass using fine-grain sandpaper.

Retune Devices

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

9. Retro electronics used to come wrapped in bulky cabinets and credenzas—and they are a dime a dozen in secondhand shops. See how to hack an old stereo cabinet into a modern digital music server.

10. Old luggage has it’s charm. Convert a vintage suitcase into a portable stereo with a little assistance from Manmade DIY.