The 10 Commandments of Buying and Selling Furniture Online

Before listing your Midcentury Modern dining table for sale or clicking the “buy now” button on that Art Deco credenza, read these 10 tips from online consignment pros.

Photo by David Prince/Prop Styling by: Jeffrey W. Miller

The 5 Commandments for Buying Home Décor Pieces Online

  1. Shop locally. “The closer an item is to you, the faster you will receive it, and the less you’ll pay in shipping,” says Anna Brockway of Chairish. (In fact, you may not have to pay shipping at all if you are near enough to pick up the piece for yourself.)
  2. Measure…then measure again. Before adding an item to your cart, make sure the item will actually fit in the space you have allotted (and that it will fit through the door, hallway, or elevator into your home or building). Ramon Cacho of AptDeco recommends measuring the space and marking it off with painter’s tape to make sure nearby doors can swing open without hitting and there’s enough room to walk past.
  3. Patience, Grasshopper. Write a list of exactly what you are looking for and check back on multiple sites a few times a week for newly listed items until you find one that checks most (if not all) of those boxes. (Chairish lists an average of 1,000 new products each week!)
  4. Avoid cash transactions. Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance warns that purchases made with cash do not offer buyer protection and could even “be a setup for thievery.” So opt for payment through secure systems like Paypal or Square.
  5. Do your research. Check out the site’s return policy and individual sellers’ reviews before making a purchase to protect yourself from unexpected fees or headaches.

The 5 Commandments for Selling Home Décor Pieces Online

  1. Sell at informed prices. Do not price your piece based on what you spent on it. Look for comparable listings on multiple sites, check what the item sells for new, and ultimately determine a price that will motivate buyers. Ramon Cacho at AptDeco recommends listing used furniture at 20 to 50 percent of the original retail price.
  2. Make it easy to find. Ki Nassauer, founder of Junk Bonanza, says to include the item’s manufacturer, age, and any other pertinent info you know about the item within each listing. Buyers may be searching by those key terms, so make it as easy as possible for them to unearth.
  3. List qualities buyers can’t see. “Tell them if the piece comes from a non-smoking home, if you have pets, and if there are any tears or broken parts,” says Ryan Finlay of If you are upfront about flaws, you will lessen the amount of back-and-forth with an interested customer and hopefully eliminate a fallen-through sale.
  4. Safety first. Local potential buyers may want to see the item in person before committing. If that’s the case, try to meet in a public place like a lawn that is visible from the street and ask a friend to come along. “Better yet,” says Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance, “drive the item to a mall parking lot or other high traffic area to show it there instead of at your home.”
  5. “A picture is worth 1,000 words”, says Anna Brockway of Chairish. Your written description can be helpful, but nothing will sell the piece more than a series of detailed photographs.

Plus: 3 Tricks to Taking the Ideal Product Photo to Post

  1. Just like with your Instagram photos, it’s best to shoot in natural light without shadows (which could be confused as damage).
  2. Provide scale with a quarter or soup can alongside the item in at least one image.
  3. Shoot an overall photo of the piece from directly in front (any other angle could skew the view) with as neutral a background as possible. Then take a close-up shot showing the texture of the piece as well as any branding that could make it more desirable. A few extra shots from every side and inside drawers (if there are any) will help seal the deal.

The Experts

  • Anna Brockway, Co-Founder and President of Chairish
  • Ramon Cacho, head of marketing at AptDeco
  • Ryan Finlay, creator of
  • Kate Holmes, author of Too Good to Be Threw
  • Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance
  • Ki Nassauer, founder of Junk Bonanza vintage market and former editor of Flea Market Style magazine