Furniture shopping in Los Angeles
March 25, 2005 6:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving into a new place and beginning the search for furniture. Anyone have any favorite sources of good deals on good furniture in LA? How close to a gigantic selection of good quality/looking stuff at garage-sale prices can one get in this city?

Various extra stuff: Looking for some antique-ish oriental furniture as well as some modern looking furniture. Also looking for decorative objects (sculpture, vases, pots, indoor trees). Primarily looking for good deals.
posted by sirion to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm sure this is obvious, but to get it out of the way: - Craigslist has been a good friend many a time.
posted by lorrer at 7:31 PM on March 25, 2005

Ikea - just check for quality. I buy from them a lot in Toronto, but reinforce almost everything with wood glue to make it lasts longer.
posted by bright77blue at 7:47 PM on March 25, 2005

Ignoring quality, for cheap or free LA craigslist is good. If you're purchasing stuff, do your homework first, as people seem to like to overcharge a great deal for stuff. But we've scored free and incredibly cheap stuff through there. YMMV.

I'm not a "nice furniture" kind of guy, and neither is my girlfriend, as we're both geeks and dweebs and stuff.

But I do know that if you've got a suitably large car or a pickup or something you can furnish a 2-3 bedroom place with hardgoods in a week simply by driving around LA proper and picking stuff up left on curbsides. Quality and aesthetics vary wildly, of course, but I've picked up a lot of sturdy retro pieces. Like the indestructible 50s desk I'm using.

We also have 3 black laminate MDF bookshelves in great quality that had all the shelves, but none of the little metal tabs to support the shelves, so those cost us about 5 bucks to put into action.

As for softgoods like mattresses and couches and stuff, generally if it's on the curb it's probably funky and out there for a reason and best left alone, but occasionally/rarely you'll see a perfectly good upholstered chair or couch that just needs a brisk vacuuming or a mild steam cleaning or something.

A really good area to patrol is all of the Westside, from Downtown on through the Adams district and upper Crenshaw to Culver City and Marina Del Rey, up to Santa Monica and back through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and/or Heights, and on through to Silverlake. I bet Burbank, Echo Park, Glendale, Eagle Rock, and Pasadena aren't bad places to look either.

Benefits of this tactic if you're into it are numerous. You're recycling, and taking debris off the street, and it's free. There are many pieces I've passed up that would have been fine for refinishing or refurbishing projects for a minimal investment.

Also, there are hundreds of thrift stores in LA. Check out all the Goodwills, Salvation Armys, Out-of-the-Closets (which donates it's proceeds to AIDS research and hospices or something) and more. There's even more indy thrift stores. Prices vary from utterly stupid to complete sale, and it pretty much depends on the whim of whoever is marking stuff for sale that day. (I've seen - in the same store - period bookcases or dressers for 10-50 bucks in fine condition right next to a ratty old mass-produced couch for 150, which is probably more than it was new.)

There are also dozens of regional swapmeets in the area, most notable being the one at the Rose Bowl, which AFAIR is so popular that not only does it have an admission fee, it has a special "dealers only" previewing session in the mornings that costs more to enter. I've heard people swear by it, but it was too pricey and too form/style over function for my tastes.
posted by loquacious at 7:48 PM on March 25, 2005

Freecycle is one place to look.

Big Lots and, to a lesser extent, the 99 Cent Store will have pots, vases and all kinds of decorative objects but the furniture at Big Lots is not that cheap.

Outlet stores are also good. Here is a large list. The Hotel Surplus Outlet and Designers' Bloopers look promising, although I haven't been to either.
posted by euphorb at 10:57 PM on March 25, 2005

Response by poster: Anyone found any particularly nice areas for garagesaling? Any particularly good thrift stores? (Specific ones/areas)

Nice answers so far! Keep it coming! :)
posted by sirion at 11:00 PM on March 25, 2005

Depends on your definition of cheap, but we furnished most of our house at The Barn in Van Nuys. High quality at good prices.
posted by waxpancake at 12:25 AM on March 26, 2005

The only thing i can add to Loquacious' post is the flea market at Melrose and Fairfax, Sundays...Out of the Closet is my favorite "thrift".

Best garagesaling? Hmm...i believe there is a listing of garage sales in the Classified sections of the LA Times and LA Weekly.
posted by schyler523 at 1:21 AM on March 26, 2005

Glendale area has good garage sales. We've found great antiques (some need a minimal amount of work) for very cheap.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:26 AM on March 26, 2005

The Buddha Vibe -- 814 La Brea, Hollywood. 323 462 1431. Primarily teak at crazy insane rock-bottom prices, but I didn't get a chance to ask them if it was the "good"/recycled reclaimed/etc teak or the "bad" endangered teak and somehow I got the feeling I wouldn't like the answer. CITES might have more about teak, but their web search interface makes me want to tear out my hair.
posted by user92371 at 8:08 PM on March 26, 2005

I've personally gotten some good quality items at Out of the Closet, and the "traditional" thrift stores (Goodwill & Salvation Army) sometimes, but you gotta look around (and OotC was the only one to call other locations to see what they have). For "first hand" furniture, I second The Barn in Van Nuys. has a pretty good listing of garage sales. In the San Fernando Valley, just cruise the semi-major east-west streets (Victory, Vanowen, Sherman Way, Saticoy, Roscoe, Parthenia, Nordhoff, Lassen, Devonshire) and watch the telephone polls. Easter Sunday is probably not a great garage sale day.

And when I lived in Studio City (in the cheapest apartment building in a ten block area) the rich neighbors often dumped perfectly good furniture in the alley (I got a couple good chairs - I'm sitting in one of them now. Sometimes I couldn't get my car out to the street for all the discards).
posted by wendell at 8:28 PM on March 26, 2005

Larry St. John was in a NYT article over the summer for their discount seating.
posted by scazza at 10:30 PM on March 27, 2005

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