Thrifty District: Furnishing Your Humble Abode

Photo courtesy of
‘Fausti Mobili – Lago Point XL a terni’
courtesy of ‘Design Conversation’

So, you need furniture. You don’t have a lot of money, but even so, you’d like something a little nicer than the disposable Swedish particleboard options of Ikea. That can mean only one thing: Consignment!!  You’ll probably have to travel a bit, though. But that’s okay, right? You’re going to need a truck anyway.  Consignment is also good for your carbon footprint; it reduces the need for additional furniture to be recycled, keeps what you buy out of the landfill, and items are generally consigned locally, so even transportation is minimal. It’s an environmental triple-win.

Tom and I needed a dining room table shortly after we got married.   Oh yes, we had hit Ikea, but due to the weird, narrow shape of our dining room, had pretty much struck out. Nothing that we liked would fit.  So we wandered around a bit at a consignment shop, and found what we non-hyperbolically refer to as The Perfect Table. Slightly narrow, with pull-out leaves that nearly double it in length, it fits exactly into our space with room to sit around it, and expands easily for our frequent dinner parties.  Why do I wax poetic with the details of a table that by definition, you can’t buy because we’ve already bought it?  Because it’s an example of the glories of consignment furniture- that table that someone else got rid of, probably because it was too small for their new dining room, was the absolute perfect thing for our needs, and it’s high quality, and probably better than we would have been able to afford brand-new. (We bought chairs to go with it an an open-air antiques market, but that’s another post.)

The thing to remember about consignment is that there’s a bit of a gamble involved. You can find really great stuff, at steeply discounted prices, but typically, the discount gets deeper and deeper the longer the stuff sits around. So if you find just the right table at a consignment shop, but it’s still a little out of your price range, it might be worth it to wait a week or two for the price to drop… as long as you won’t be too heartbroken if someone else comes in and buys it while you were waiting.  

Closest in (that I was able to find; furniture consignment shops don’t seem to be too into web presence) is Connecticut Avenue Collections in Chevy Chase. I haven’t been there myself, but they’ve gotten rave reviews on all the sites I checked for their quality, variety, and overall inventory sense. I suspect I’ll be checking this place out the next time I need furniture. CAC also has gift items like jewelry boxes and estate jewelry, so check it out for those things as well.

Next closest is Upscale Resale in Falls Church. After our friend raved about the living room furniture he picked up there, we hit this place in our table search. As the name implies, clearly a lot of stuff in this store came from the homes of people more well-to-do than we are, and I do have to warn you- money does NOT buy you taste. But for every harvest-gold upholstered chair or pink tufted ottoman, there was a perfectly lovely mahogany side-table, or a Perfect Dining Table, or a near-mint leather couch.  Walk past the stuff that looks like your Aunt Maude would own it and find the perfect thing for your living room.

In Maryland, there’s Kaboodle Home Gallery in Rockville. I haven’t been to this one, either, but their gallery (no doubt the hand-picked best items) looks pretty good. Most of the other consignment shops I was able to research in MoCo are mixed clothing and household goods, but Kaboodle seems to specialize in home furnishings and accessories.

There are more shops in the area waiting to be discovered. Ask around- your friends or coworkers may have a recommendation, and of course leave your suggestions in the comments.

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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One thought on “Thrifty District: Furnishing Your Humble Abode

  1. I’d also suggest the Salvation Army stores; we’ve seen many exceptional pieces at the one off Old Keene Mill in Alexandria. Minor scuffles and scratches – easily marked out with furniture markers or buffed out with some elbow grease – and very moderately priced.

    Selection varies from week to week, though, so don’t mull something too long. We’ve found it best to hit the SA stores that lie in the more ‘upper end’ suburbs for some truly great deals. Best time is right around now, actually, since many folk donate their goods for the tax write-off.