It was both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time, which I feel like big decisions should be.
Hubby and I have had a futon that was graciously passed on to us by his parents acting as our couch. It served us well, but a week or so ago I had a stomach bug and spent an entire Saturday on it, at which point I realized that it really just wasn't that comfortable. This spurred me to order a memory foam mattress pad and a new microsuede cover for it from overstock.com. (I haven't put them on yet, so I can't vouch for their quality yet....another post, maybe!) However, it also spurred me to begin in earnest my search for furniture to add to what we have to really make our apartment feel like a home.
This wasn't the first time we had given furniture a shot. We've checked out one first-hand furniture store together (and I've been to another alone), and we decided we were not fans of the atmosphere in them. The sellers tend to be too pushy, not giving us enough time "alone" with the furniture to really examine it and make a decision. Plus, it's so tough to know what is really good quality and what isn't. We have a set budget to spend on furniture and decor for the apartment (which is a definite boon to the shopping process, by the way), which seemed to shrink in the face of some of the high-end, first-hand furniture options, yet we were unimpressed by the quality it seemed we could buy for less.
So for those reasons, among others, we turned to exploring second-hand options around town. The non-profit I work for runs a thrift store, which we've explored (and donated to!) a few times, as does Habitat for Humanity (the Re-Store). The ReStore in particular, though, just kind of depresses me. I think it's great for actual building supplies, but maybe not the best for furniture. But a google search (are you noticing a theme in how I discover things I do?) yielded a few furniture CONSIGNMENT shops in Huntsville!
Now, I LOVE consignment shops when it comes to clothes. There are two within walking distance of my Louisville home, and when I am there I can never resist taking a spin through both. I tend to wear name brand clothes, but only because I have bought them at a consignment shop! So imagine my excitement at the thought of consigned FURNITURE. We've found that these shops fit the bill exactly for us: good quality furniture that is often in a bit better shape than thrift store furniture at less-than-retail prices. Cha-ching.
We together have been to each of the two we found at least once, and with me working half days throughout June, I had decided that I was going to devote some afternoons to checking them frequently, as items come in and out often. So Tuesday, my first half day, I optimistically headed out to Whitesburg Dr., thinking, "Maybe I will walk in and there will just be the perfect couch."
It was a very nice couch, and I talked to the clerk a bit, but then left and went across the street to Goodwill. While there, I realized that I would be sad if I came back in awhile and "my" couch was gone. So I went back and put it on hold.
Tuesday night, I did some research online to try to do a sanity check about the couch. I found this really helpful article about buying a sofa from Good Housekeeping. I also, of course, found drastically differing opinions on various forums about the particular brand of couch I was pondering. (Some people raved about it, while others denounced it. It happens.) I measured my space, tried to remember the exact color from the crummy cell phone picture I snuck in the store, and literally laid awake thinking about the couch.
Yesterday I called ahead to try to bargain. The clerk was very polite but very firm on the price, not even willing to give me a deal if I paid cash, which most places will. (The couch had already been marked down once for being on the floor for 30+ days, as is the custom with consignment.) However, she did give me some more info about the couch that further solidified my interest in it. Hardwood frame, high-density foam cushions, 6 years old with another predicted 15-20 years of life. I tried not to be too excited on the phone, but I did let her know I was still interested in keeping it on hold.
I also was able to speak with the director of our thrift store about furniture in general. Did you know that some furniture stores charge upwards of $200 PLUS a percentage of the item for delivery? It was good to have some perspective on that.
I went in later that day armed with my measuring tape and list of specs to check for. The clerk did come over to me, but definitely gave me my space to examine the couch, which pleased me. After bouncing around a bit, lifting the legs, feeling underneath, and looking closely at the back (which is the first thing one sees when entering our home), I was sold but nervous. However, I bravely proceeded to hand over my credit card and schedule a delivery time! As I said before, it is great when making a big purchase to know your budget. It is a nice feeling to know that, while something is a large expense, you have been saving and planning for it.
So that was that. I think it's important with decisions to know you have done your research. Even though this all conspired within two days, I felt like I had read, seen, and talked about it enough that I was convinced this was a good choice and not frivolous or a passing whim. And I rested much easier last night.
More on the delivery process and maybe some pictures yet to come! Stay tuned.