If you follow Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Facebook or Instagram, you might see us sharing stellar finds from high end furniture brands like Bernhardt, Bassett, or Herman Miller. But how can you spot those great treasures in stores without a helpful caption? With the right tips and tricks, you can learn how to easily spot high quality and well crafted pieces that last for generations!
Look for the Label
If you thrift for clothes, you know to check the label for recognizable, quality brands. You can often do the same for furniture, if you know where to look!
High end furniture will often have a brand mark or label hidden out of view. Inside drawers or cabinet doors is a great place to check. Don’t be afraid to get on your hands and knees to check underneath a piece! You might look funny, but it’s worth scoring a deal on a valuable antique.
Spot Solid Wood Construction
A seasoned shopper will check a clothing label for fabric content, knowing that quality natural fibers last longer than certain cheap synthetics. Furniture is no different!
Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley Playhouse Program Manager and pro woodworker Gus Cancro knows what to look for when it comes to wood furniture. “I look for something sturdy and well-constructed, preferably solid wood,” Gus says.
Solid wood furniture is more durable and will last much longer than particle board. An easy way to test furniture is to give it a little push! Solid wood furniture is heavy, so if the piece feels lighter than it looks, it’s probably particle board or MDF.
Joints are another key way to spot quality wood furniture, and drawers are the perfect place to check! Dovetail joints like the one shown here are secure, durable, and a sign of good craftsmanship. Take some time to learn what strong joints look like, and you’ll just need to pull out a drawer to spot quality woodwork!
Don’t be Scared of Repair
It’s disappointing when you spot a beautiful vintage dresser at a great price, only to find chips or scratches with a closer look. But it just takes a little know-how to identify a quality piece underneath minor imperfections.
“I look for furniture pieces with ‘good bones’ without getting too hung up on small, superficial blemishes that can easily be repaired or hidden,” says Gus. “I try to steer clear of damaged veneer, which can be hard to fix, unless you choose to paint over it.”
If you want to learn more about repairing and refinishing wood furniture, check out ReStore’s ReClaim Clinic YouTube playlist! Gus guides you through every step of the process, from selecting the perfect piece to putting on the finishing touches.
Check out some of our favorite DIY furniture blogs for additional resources and inspiration!
Stop by your local ReStore in Oakland, Concord, or San Jose to test drive these tips and see what you find! Or, if you want the best deals of the week sent straight to you, sign up for our weekly Treasure Hunters emails. Every dollar spent on a sweet find at ReStore goes towards building homes, communities, and hope in our Bay Area backyard!