7 Things for Your New Home That You Should Always Buy Secondhand

published Apr 1, 2021
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Buying a home is expensive enough. Still, after you move in, the costs can continue to pile up. You may realize that your existing furniture doesn’t fit — or, in a big house, that you simply need more of it. Plus, now you have a yard to maintain, a sidewalk to shovel, and a garage to organize. All of this costs money.

Instead of buying everything you need for your new home brand new, consider scoping out thrift shops, garage sales, and online marketplaces first. You might be surprised at what you can find — and how little it costs. In addition to saving money, you’ll feel good knowing you helped keep perfectly good materials and items out of a landfill.

Ahead, real estate agents and home stagers offer up their expert advice on what to buy secondhand when you move into your new home.


Brand new storage items — shelving units, totes, closet organizers — always seem to cost an arm and a leg. But you can find some serious steals when you hunt around for secondhand storage, says Christina Mendez, a real estate agent in southern California.

“As a new homeowner, you’re going to need to make room for storage — seasonal decor, kids items, and more,” she says. “Find used storage cubes for the office or, better yet, you can also find used garage racks. This is a must.”

Dining tables

Kitchen and dining tables, and pretty much all big-ticket furniture items, are abundant at thrift shops. Most of the time, they’re incredibly sturdy and well-made. Even if it’s not exactly your style, you can always refinish it, add a pretty tablecloth, or use it until you’ve lived in the home for a while and better understand your needs in the new space.

“Kitchen tables are not difficult to find and, the best part is, it will come to you already assembled,” Mendez says.


Hate those builder-grade bulbs above the bathroom mirror? Can’t stand the outdated ceiling fan in the bedroom? Before you sprint to Home Depot, look for some secondhand light fixtures instead, says Killy Scheer, an Austin-based home stager and founder of Scheer & Co. Unique used options can add personality to your new space.

“Often, shades can be replaced if they feel dated,” she says, explaining that swapping out lampshades and simple fixtures are easy updates.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn


Yes, you can even find secondhand rugs, as long as you know what to look for. Rugs can be dingy, dirty, stained (and possibly even worn through in places), so you really want to inspect every inch of a secondhand rug. But with a good vacuuming, a spray of carpet cleaner, or even a hosing down in the yard (depending on the material), you’ll have an affordable, potentially one-of-a-kind rug adorning your floor. 

Plus, when you can see rugs in real life, you know exactly what you’re getting, which isn’t always the case when you buy a rug online, Scheer says.

Cabinet hardware

One of the cheapest, easiest ways to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom is to swap out the cabinet door handles and drawer pulls. Good news: You can often find these at secondhand stores like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and from local organizations that recycle building and home materials, Scheer says.

Lawn and garden tools

If you’re moving from an apartment to a house or townhome, chances are you probably need to buy a lawnmower, a rake, snow shovels, tree and shrub pruners, and other essential lawn and garden tools. Hit up an estate sale, a garage sale, or Craigslist, and you’ll save yourself a lot of money, says Deb Tomaro, a real estate agent in central Indiana.

“I spent about $5 for my starter set of garden tools,” she says, recalling her first-time home purchase. “I went to an estate sale and bought a shovel, pitchfork, and step ladder. They were a little rusty, but a little steel wool goes a long way.”


You can find like-new headboards all over Facebook Marketplace, says Betsy Ronel, a real estate agent in New York. Plus, you can make a headboard out of just about anything if you’re willing to go the DIY route, like old window shutters and doors, for example.

“Headboards are a statement in a bedroom and can have as much personality as you want, even if the rest of the room is pretty tame,” Ronel says. “They range from free to over $100 for something more ornate. They can be sanded, stained, or repainted.”