What Sells: Furniture

Selling furniture online can be challenging; many would-be buyers are put off by high shipping costs, and often the items are available locally at deeply discounted prices.

Auctions can be excellent markets for rare antiques and mid-century modern pieces, but less so for IKEA sofas and Pottery Barn dining tables since these items are widely available through retail stores and catalogs. Online local classifieds websites, such as craigslist, usually offer the best markets for selling everyday furniture.

What Sells Top-selling brands include:
Research Resources

Baker Furniture, a Kohler company. Visit the website at http://www.kohlerinteriors.com/baker/1_0_0_baker_home.jsp.

For photographs of designs by Hans Wegner visit the website at http://www.danish-design.com/designers/weg/catalogue/.

For Herman Miller furniture information and details, vist the website at http://www.hermanmiller.com.

For most Heywood Wakefield pieces, visit local vintage dealers or to refer to the book titled Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture: Identification and Value Guide, by Steven and Roger Rouland.

To find a visual portfolio of Paul Mc Cobb pieces, visit the website at http://www.www.architonic.com/webDesMusEn/Paul_McCobb_16285.html.


Condition is very important, particularly for furniture that isn’t considered collectible (e.g., antiques). If the item was frequently used or improperly stored, it will not be as desirable to potential buyers. Ask the owner about an item’s use and whether it has ever been repaired or reupholstered.

Other things to examine:

  • Look at the back and undersides (you may find the maker’s name hidden here; if so, be sure to include a photo in your listing)
  • Open doors and remove all drawers so that you can look at every side
  • Gently press seat cushions to test stuffing and springs
  • Insert and remove leaves from tables
  • Test all other moving parts

In your listing, describe and take photos of all damage, including:

  • Scuffs, scratches and gouges
  • Faded, worn or ripped upholstery
  • Chipped, cracked or broken glass in cabinet doors
  • Missing handles and door pulls
  • Rusted or broken hinges
  • Warped, cracked or split wood
  • Uneven or wobbly legs
  • Damage from water, alcohol, wax and other substances
Storage and Shipping

Keep furniture in a well-ventilated room, away from children, pets, smoke and cooking odors. Don’t place an item in direct sunlight, heating vents or air conditioners, since light and temperature/humidity changes can cause damage.

Before you accept an item; determine how it will be delivered to the buyer (picked up locally, shipped by freight or another method). Some furniture can be easily disassembled. If you take an item apart, be sure to label the parts clearly so that you can easily reassemble it. Store fasteners and other small parts in Ziplock bags and label the bags with a permanent marker. Be extremely careful when using tape on furniture; blue painter’s tape is easily removable but can damage the finish.

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