Stop and think before you throw away old furniture; there's a good chance you can make a few dollars by tidying it up, decorating it and selling it. This could even become a profitable side job: Buying old furniture, giving it new life, and selling it at a profit could provide you with additional income if you do it well.
Remove any handles, knobs or wheels from your furniture and use an electric sander to strip away old paint or varnish. Follow all safety directions when using the sander. If your furniture has any ornate features, you may need to use sandpaper to manually strip it instead. Use a heat torch and a scraper if any paint or varnish is hard to strip.
Safety is paramount when applying heat to old paint or varnish. Wear goggles, open windows, and wear an air mask, as potentially noxious fumes could be given off during this process. In addition, wear protective gloves and keep the heat gun away from flammable surfaces. Be sure to adhere to any other safety instructions supplied with your torch.
Establish what type of person might be interested in buying the piece of furniture you're working on. This will help you decide how to decorate it. If you're working on a contemporary piece, consider painting it a bright color and adding some designs to appeal to younger buyers. If you have an old piece of antique-style furniture that would be more likely to appeal to conservative buyers, keep things simple by applying a base coat and some varnish.
Paint or varnish your furniture as desired and replace any damaged upholstery. Apply paint or varnish in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask if directed to do so by the safety instructions that came with your choice of decorative coating. Buy new handles, locks, knobs or feet if necessary, and make sure your piece is structurally sound by ensuring any screws are properly secured and that all panels are glued into place. If you're trying to achieve a "shabby-chic" look to appeal to younger buyers, paint on your own designs or add prints.
Take a look on classified listing and auction websites to see what pieces similar to yours are selling for. This will help you to work out how to price your item.
Advertise your decorated piece of furniture on auction and classified listings sites. Bear in mind that you'll have to pay a commission if you sell your furniture through an auction service. Alternatively, use the search facility on the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops website to find a consignment store to sell your piece through. Consumer Reports advises that you can expect to split the proceeds of any sale made through a consignment store 50-50 with its owner.
Post links to any online classified listing or auction lot you've set up to your social media accounts and ask your contacts to spread the word. The more views your item gets, the better.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.