Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 29, 2014

How to Sell Furniture in Preparation for a Move

I mentioned feeling a little overwhelmed by our stuff, but heaps of things never even made it to the lakehouse.  Before we moved, we donated boxes of goodies to a thrift shop.  I sold armfuls of clothes at my favorite Ottawa consignment shop (Bella).  Hubs and I parked ourselves outside on a warm day and held a garage sale ($145 worth sold!).  I also worked like a fiend to sell things on Kijij.

I have this weird fascination with knowing the price people buy and sell things for, so I'm sharing some details.  I'm also sharing because I think you might be surprised by what didn't make the journey with us.

In one fell swoop, I said good-bye to the round Danish teak table, the pair of Danish teak end tables, and the apricot-hued tweed and teak chair.  I listed the lone table on Kijiji because I was up to my eyeballs in tables, and the chair I wanted to sell because I'm inching my way toward a cooler palette.  A woman contacted me right away to buy just the table.  I intentionally placed it in a room full of other things I was selling (we were prepping for the garage sale) and she ended up buying the table and the chair, plus $20 worth of smalls.  The chair never looked as beautiful in photographs as it did in real life, so I knew the key to a purchase would be for someone to actually see it.  Success!  Surprisingly, she emailed that night and asked about our end tables, which I hadn't really thought about selling.  I paid $20 for the pair at an estate sale, so when she offered $400 I happily agreed.  At the time, an identical pair was for sale in Ottawa for $600, so we were both pleased.  
Buying and selling furniture in the classifieds
Tweed & teak chair (bought $400/sold $425); Danish teak side tables (bought $20/sold $400)
Round teak table
Teak table (bought $175/sold $200)
Some things I reluctantly parted with, but I knew they'd have no spot in the lakehouse.  I listed both the vintage bar cart and ornate white frame at the same time, hoping someone would want to strike a deal and buy both.  The bar cart had been $20 but I painted it white.  The ornate frame was salvaged from a thrift store painting (for $19.99), painted white and turned into a card display with foam core, fabric, ribbon and silk-covered buttons that I made.   A gal had been on the hunt for exactly these things and bought both. 

White bar cart
Vintage bar cart (bought $20/sold $30)
White card display
Vintage frame (bought $20/sold $30)
I loved my dipped stool but found I still never used it, even after its pretty makeover.  I sold it, but only after weeks and weeks and weeks.  It was listed for a long time and I really thought no one would buy it.  I just had to be patient though, because one day I received an email from a woman who wanted it that minute and paid my asking price of $15.  It was bare wood when I bought it for $10 at a yard sale, and then I spent an afternoon painting it.

Dipped leg stool
Dipped stool (bought $10/sold $15)
Comically, after owning it for four years, I only recently realized that our kitchen table was Danish teak, made by the manufacturer Frem Rojle.  I had intended to list it on Kijiji for $400.  But when a woman who had wanted to buy the townhouse asked to purchase the table and our dining room hutch, I offered $325 and $175 respectively (what we had paid).  After the deal fell through, she shocked me by still wanting to buy the pieces.  I was happy to see someone else as excited about these pieces of furniture as I has been when I first found them.  We won't have a need for two dining tables, so I only kept one.  The hutch, although so cute, is quite petite and will look oddly proportioned in our larger dining room nook.

Small vintage teak dining hutch
Teak hutch (bought $175/sold $175)
Frem Rojle Teak Kitchen Table
Teak dining table (bought $325/sold $325)
Our first real estate agent had also wanted to purchase a piece of furniture from us and even though we re-listed with another agent, after the townhouse sold she came by to purchase the desk we had built for Hubby.  I hadn't really thought about selling it but I was happy for the opportunity because we'd ultimately like to build a desk for two that perfectly fits our new office (and hides office clutter!).  Completely clueless, we asked $200.

White welded metal desk
DIY desk (made by us/sold $200)
After thinking about it and blogging about it and thinking about it some more, I finally, finally sold the maple armoire.  It wasn't easy.  It was the first piece of furniture I ever bought and I've had it since before I left my childhood home.  I was really sad to see it go, but it's so large that I won't have room for it in the lakehouse.  After saving all of my waitressing money I bought it for $600, only after haggling with a local shop in Thunder Bay for months.  The clear coat had yellowed differently than other pieces in the same line, so my argument was that it might turn off potential customers.  Better to sell the odd piece to me, for a discounted price, I told them, than risk people having doubts about the quality.  Apparently, I made a strong case and the armoire was mine.  It's made in Canada and is actually of excellent quality - a smaller version still retails for $1200.  I asked $300 on Kijiji with NO bites.  I was disappointed.  It's extra deep, so it's perfect for hiding cumbersome kid's toys.  Come on, folks, Canadian made!  When someone offered $200, I accepted it.  The guy who bought it almost fainted bringing it down the stairs with Hubby.  After Hubs and I carried the treadmill down the stairs together (which I also sold on Kijiji, for $300!), anything else seemed like a piece of cake to us.

I also sold the collection of milk glass that sat atop it to someone else for $50, which made me scratch my head after only getting $200 for the maple armoire . . .

Milk glass collection (bought ?/sold $50); Maple amoire (bought $600/sold $200)
My sweet little chevron useless table (I'm pretty sure it was my first DIY project for the blog), just doesn't have a spot in the lakehouse so I listed it for $20.  I had paid $8 at a yard sale and then stripped and painted it.  The woman who bought it deployed her Hubby to our house to pick it up, where my Hubby was waiting (I was at work).  The other Hubby said, "I'm here for a . . . dresser?" and my Hubby said, "Uhhhh, I have . . . this table?" and so it was sold.

DIY painted chevron table
Useless table (bought $8/sold $20)
You likely never saw this vintage telephone table that languished in the basement.  It was a superstar piece of furniture in our old apartment, as a perfect spot to drop my purse when I came in the door.  I scooped it from my grandparents' basement and then Hubby and I re-upholstered it.  It even had cute upholstery tacks along the back.  We never used it in the townhouse, though, because there just wasn't the right space for it.  The gal who bought it was so excited to have found it.  Kindred spirits!  I was excited when I first stumbled across it too.

Vintage telephone table
Vintage telephone table (bought $0/sold $20)
Kicking and screaming I parted with my Poang knock-off from Ikea.  It's ugly but SO comfy.  It had a ridiculously specific use: it was my art contemplation chair.  Seriously.  All I used it for was to sit in and reflect after I worked on a painting.  I don't even know where I will have room to paint in the lakehouse, let alone sit and contemplate what I've painted.  $20 for it helped lessen the sting.

Ikea Pello chair (bought $60/sold $20)
I painted my pink and brown squares abstract shortly before Hubs and I moved in together.  My parents had given him a burgundy sofa which we thought we'd be moving with us.  I was trying to make the burgundy more appealing.  It was a difficult task, and it's why my Mom had ditched it and given it to Handy Hubby (then Buildy Boyfriend) in the first place.  When we decided to sell the burgundy sofa and buy a brown sofa instead I kept the painting.  Now I'm working toward a more watery palette so I sold the painting for $40.

Pink squares abstract painting
Abstract painting (made by me/sold $40)
Remember the antique washing tub stand I bought and did NOTHING with?  I admitted defeat.  Sometimes things are a bad purchase.  I don't know why I couldn't admit that sooner.  Happily, I made back my $50.  It sold in minutes on Kijiji.  A frenzied guy immediately emailed me and picked it up minutes later.  I looked this up on Etsy after and found an identical one listed for $140.  Oops.

Vintage washing tub stand
Vintage washtub stand (bought $50/sold $50)
Once I had my own house, my parents started grumbling about the crap I had left in my childhood home after I'd first moved out.  I guess it was more forgivable when Hubs and I lived in an apartment, but once we had a basement and a garage, I got a lot of my stuff back.  On a recent visit they had lugged a typewriter I had bought for hipster purposes (to sit on my desk as an objet d'art).  I listed it for $50 and was immediately contacted by a collector who wanted nothing more than to chat about it and give me some information.  I tentatively asked if he was interested, but he told me he had a quite a few already and wouldn't be interested unless it was $20 or $25.  I don't think he was trying to pull a fast one, I think he was being honest.  He seemed totally surprised when I said, "Sold, for $25!".  I sure as heck wasn't going to haul this back to Thunder Bay.  He was a sweet guy - he even refurbished typewriters from the 1950s and 1960s and brought them to nursing homes where women were apparently thrilled with the chance to type up some letters to family.  I had paid $8 for it at a yard sale, but I'm sure my parents used at least $30 worth of extra fuel hauling it 1500km, lol.

Vintage Typewriter
Antique typewriter (bought $8/sold $25)
To raise a little extra cash to buy things for the lakehouse, I actually took a chance and bought a very beat up Danish teak side table for $7 at a thrift store and tried my hand at refinishing it.  After two afternoons working on it, it looked much better but still not perfect.  I tentatively listed it for $50 and was blown away by the flurry of emails.  A young couple quickly scooped it up, excited for an affordable piece of mid-century modern teak.  I had secretly hoped it wouldn't sell because I'd thought it would be a perfect project: I thought a glossy turquoise painted top (the damage was on the top) would look great with teak legs.  But again, I definitely don't need more tables.  The profit was sweet but I'm sure not cut out to be in the furniture refinishing business.  My hourly wage was, what, $3.75?

Vintage teak side table
Teak table (bought $7/sold $50)
I never in a million years thought I would successfully sell our old dining table because, even though it is solid wood and super sturdy, it's very dated.  I have no idea why I bought it but I've lugged it from city to city, using it as a craft table in the townhouse.  Although it's original, thwarted makeover had given me a headache, I had planned again to paint it.  We listed the townhouse, though, so my plans were stalled.  I definitely met my waterloo with this one.  I was relieved when it sold to a very persistent guy who happily hauled it home for $50.  He was thrilled with the heft of it and Hubs was relieved not to have to drive that heft all the way to Thunder Bay.

Basement Craft Room
Solid wood table (bought $100/sold $50)
I had success selling smaller things on Kijiji too, like this breadbox I thrifted and never did anything with.  I bought it for $4.99 and sold for $10 (including delivery, but our meeting spot was right in front of work so it worked for the buyer and myself).  The buyer had found a set of matching canisters curbside in the Glebe.
Vintage metal bread box
Vintage breadbox (bought $4.99/sold $10)
Our new kitchen is fairly petite, so some of our bulkier, infrequently used kitchen items got the boot, like this ice cream machine.  My Mom never used it and passed it to us.  We used it a few times but realized that when we want ice cream, we don't want to wait eight hours and labour for it.  Sold for $50!  I included a photo of the original price ($99) - still on the box - plus a link to the identical item selling on Amazon for more. 

Ice cream machine (bought $99/sold $50)
We were really feeling the pinch in the fall, so I parted with three treasured finds: a jadeite egg cup (found for 69 cents at a thrift store), a jadeite mug, and a blue delphite mug (bought for $1 each at a yard sale).  I bargained with a buyer and landed on $40 for all three.  The egg cup alone is priced at $40 at a number of Ottawa antique shops.  I am still a little sad about selling these treasures, but we needed cash and, frankly, I needed these things like a hole in the head.

Jadeite and Blue Delphite
Fire King mugs (bought $2/sold $20)
Jadeite Egg Cup
Jadeite egg cup (bought 69 cents/sold $20)
The Danish teak tray behind the egg cup in the photo above was also sold on Kijiji.  I paid $3 at a thrift store and, after weeks and weeks of no bites, sold it to a woman for $20.  It was cute, but since blogging about them, I've been stumbling across Fab trays left and right. 

Danish teak tray
Danish teak tray (bought $3/sold $20)
To lighten the load, I also sold all of the Anchor Hocking EAPC glassware that I'd been collecting at yard sales for years.  I sold everything in a lot for $20.  I paid a quarter here, a buck there, so I am sure I broke even.  Even if I didn't, it weighed a ton and I'd rather have my Pyrex see the light of day.  A woman gleefully drove 35 km through morning rush hour to pick these up.

Anchor Hocking EAPC Glassware Collection
Anchor Hocking EAPC (bought ?/sold $20)
I also sold the solid wood frames I had used for my cardboard art and the person who bought them was desperate for the "art" I had made for them too.  I was happy with $5 because I had bought the frames for only 50 cents and then painted them. 

DIY art
Wood frames (bought 75 cents/sold $5)
A friend has asked me to share how I'm able to sell so many things, especially for prices I'm happy with.  I think a lot of it is luck and patience but I have experimented a little and come up with a cheat sheet of some tips that might help.  I'll share that soon!

UPDATE: Here's a link to the post I promised, sharing my tips for selling your stuff quickly and for top dollar.


  1. Phew! You've been busy! I think the secret to your success is that you have great vintage stuff! All of the furniture is beautiful! I'm excited to see how you re-stock for the lake house!

    1. Awww thanks!! But I had some duds, like the basement table, and some ubiquitous finds, like my treadmill.

  2. Always had my eye on that Danish teak lounge chair. Sorry to see it go, but I'm sure you've picked up some great stuff for the new place. Can't wait to see more.

    1. The teal velvet chair took its place for now. But I found something huge recently that I can't wait to photograph and share!

  3. Great post. Can't wait to start selling things on Kijiji, never realised it could be so useful! What thrift stores in Ottawa would you recommend?

    1. Happy selling! I'm working on a post about my favorite thrift shops. Should be live in the next week or so! Thanks for reminding me to wrap in up.

  4. Glad you were able to lighten your load and make some extra money in the process. I can't wait to start seeing shots of the lakehouse and see how what you did keep fits in your new place!

    1. Right now it's such a disaster. So many boxes, furniture still wrapped, and I'm still painting! Soon, I hope. Why are we such slow pokes, lol?

  5. Wow, you did so good with selling everything on Kijiji! Your paintings are so great. I'm happy to hear they found really good homes

    1. Thanks! It was fun seeing how excited people were by their new finds.

  6. Nice working on selling your stuff and to make a profit on some of it too makes up for your time and effort in trying to sell it! Great job!!

    1. You're so right! In the end, it does take some time to take pictures, list an item and deal with tire kickers and no-shows. But it does feel good even to recoup money spent on things we no longer need, profit or no.

  7. A cheat sheet would be so cool! I'm terrible at gauging this kind of thing and end up giving stuff away or overpaying. You did amazing!

  8. So after seeing all of the treasures you unloaded (why don't we live closer, grrrrrr!!!!!) I'm feeling really bad about sending you more crap in the mail. Oops. xo

    1. E, I positive the tray you sent me. It's perfect!!

  9. Thanks for sharing the details. I am terrible at selling furniture for some reason so this is very inspiring. Glad you made a little bundle off your extra wares!

    1. It can be a hassle, but also a chance to meet folks with similar taste, which is always interesting!

  10. Thanks Tanya, that was interesting and helpful.

  11. Wow Tanya, thank you so much for the inside scoop! Are you able to post the link to the cheat sheet?

    1. Absolutely! I updated the post with the link (at the bottom) but here it is as well:

      Hope it helps a little!


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