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Six Tips for Salvaging Furniture (& That Arched Mirror!)

Interiors Mar 11, 2019

One man’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Especially when it comes to furniture…

You’ll be unsurprised by my love of salvaging furniture, it comes from a deep addiction to before and afters, aka taking something awful and making it shiny and new again! Honestly, I can think of no better satisfaction than finding a diamond in the rough and making it into something beautiful for the home. I’ve been doing it for a while, and have particularly enjoyed making over things I’ve found for our renovation. I know a lot of you were amazed to hear that THAT arched mirrors was just five dollars at a garage sale. It pays to roll up your sleeved and look! I find that if you do that, you can often discover something amazing that other people miss – it’s all about thinking creatively about what you are looking at. Read on for a few of my tips and tricks.

6 Tips For Salvaging Furniture and Decor For Your House

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone The best places to look for great salvage furniture are places you probably don’t usually go, and require a bit of rummaging! In my experience, the less mainstream the place is, the more likely you are to find something amazing (at a great price). Secondhand stores and antique shops are obvious places, but consider also curb side collection days (DON’T be embarrassed to pull up in your car and nab that chair!), refuse shops attached to local landfills, garage sales and car boot sales. Just wear your oldest clothes and go for it!

Know What You’re Looking For When you go looking, it really pays to have an idea in mind of what you need and the style that you are looking for. I had been pondering the addition of arches to our space for a while, you may remember a discussion about whether they suited our space or not. A few of you suggested using mirrors to get the same effect of arched doorways or windows, and I think it totally worked! By having this idea in my head for a while, it helped me to open my mind up to what I saw when I was looking.

Think Creatively Not to toot my horn or anything, but I have a knack for being able to pick a diamond in the rough (my only other special skill is picking when my friends are pregnant, but we’ll leave that for another day!). People often ask me to go secondhand shopping with them because I find the good stuff… But to be honest there’s no real secret, I just try to look beyond the superficial things (like that ugly frame, or coat of paint) and understand if the bones of the item is good, and I always think creativity about how something can be pulled apart or completed overhauled.

Be Realistic In the past, I have been totally unrealistic about how much work I was willing to put into a salvaged item. I admit that the more difficult projects can lie waiting to be updated for weeks, months or even years! What I’ve learnt is that it’s important to be realistic about how much work you’re willing to put in to make over a piece, and don’t bother if you can’t make time for it in the next month or so, in my experience if you don’t get around to I quickly you rarely will.

Consider Quality Not everything is worth salvaging. There, I said it. It’s really important when you’re looking for second hand furniture that you look closely at the details and see if it’s got water damage or termites or anything else that’s going to make it a point less exercise in the long run. try to avoid anything flimsy or made of light metal, and look for better quality heavy pieces that will stand the test of time.

Know How You’ll Use It Finally, before you go to the trouble of lugging it home, know where it will be used in your space! Consider the size of the item, what room it would work in, and what needs to be done to it to get it to that point.

The Find


This was the mirror that I found at the garage sale, it was actually the last item left there, and they had marked it down late in the afternoon in the hope of getting rid of it! The frame was horrible but I crossed my fingers in the hope that the mirror inside was arched (sometimes they are square or have some sort of straight edges).


I especially love that salvaging furniture and decor increases the life cycle of an item that might otherwise be thrown away, making it such a sustainable way to update your space!

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