New or Used? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Shop for Your Home

published Jan 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

To buy new or not to buy new? That is the question.

When it comes to decorating your space, both brand-new and pre-owned pieces have their perks. While you’re often able to get the most bang for your buck with older items, new furniture and accessories make it easy to embrace the newest trends.

For many, using old and new pieces is a medium. After all, how cool will an au courant curvy sofa look with your Grandma’s old Persian rug?

“A mix of old and new creates a unique space that expresses your personal style,” explains Anna Brockway, co-founder and president of Chairish. “Without mixing in vintage pieces, spaces feel sterile, anonymous, and honestly, just boring”

Of course, the question remains: Which pieces should you buy new? To help you find the best pieces for your home, Brockway shares four questions you should ask yourself before checking out:

1. “What am I buying?”

Log onto an antique site like Chairish and you’ll find virtually every type of furniture and accessory: Sofas, coffee tables, flatware, lamps, armoires… shall we go on? While buying used is fair game for just about every category, there are some exceptions.

“Mattresses should always be new!” Brockway says. “Enough said.”

She has a point: The last thing you want is a mattress covered in bed bugs. While many vintage stores sell old (but clean!) bedding, the mere thought of sleeping in someone else’s sheets may make you uneasy. We recommend erring on the side of caution and buying your mattress (and all its accoutrements) new.

2. “What’s the condition?”

It doesn’t matter how well you take care of your home: Nothing lasts forever. Rugs fray. Mirrors chip. The fabric on your favorite armchair will wear.

“Always take some time to inspect your item, whether it’s in person or online,” she recommends. “Anything with a broken frame—I’m talking chairs or tables—is not repairable. Check out the connection, like where the table meets the leg, to see if it’s sturdy.”

If a pre-owned piece is in good condition, go ahead and add it to your cart. But if it’s already worn, torn, or squeaking, and will cost a hefty chunk of change to fix, you may want to consider buying something new.

3. “Can I buy it anywhere else?”

Ah, the thrill of the hunt.

As design enthusiasts, nothing is more satisfying than scouring websites, flea markets, and furniture stores to find the perfect side table or ottoman for your home. That being said, settling on one product can be a little nerve-racking. How do you know it’s the one? What if something better comes along?

When you’re in a vintage store or buying something used online, you don’t have the time for second-guessing. “Pounce on it,” Brockway recommends. “Vintage tends to be one of a kind, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. You have to move on it!”

Considering something new? You have some time. If you’re torn, put it on your Pinterest board and keep looking for a piece that ticks all the boxes. Or, better yet, wait until the piece you love is on sale. A good bargain never hurt anyone, right?

4. “Do I love it?”

At the end of the day, the most important part about decorating your home is filling it with pieces that bring you joy. If you love it, you should buy it.

“Sometimes you kind of just have to go with what you love. If it’s the most awesome chair and the greatest rayon ever from 1968 but needs a little love, just go with it,” Brockway says. “You can always reupholster and refinish.”