Help me figure out how to furnish my apartment in Boston/Cambridge.
July 11, 2012 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out how to furnish my apartment in Boston/Cambridge.

Hi. I'm moving to Boston, with pretty much no furniture and a limited budget.

I have no interest in filling up my apartment with Ikea stuff, and so I think I'm going the secondhand route. I've sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist before, but have never bought furniture there -- any tips? Any surefire ways to avoid bed bugs?

Also, any recommendations for secondhand furniture shops in the area?

posted by EtTuHealy to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by victory_laser at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My question from last week may be helpful to you, though it's not Boston-specific.
posted by pdq at 5:51 AM on July 11, 2012

I've had very bad experience with Craigslist in the Boston area in the last couple of years. Items are frequently overpriced and in terrible condition, plus there is a bed bug epidemic in the area so be wary of that. Just saying that if you go Craigslist route be ready to inspect and haggle. I personally am done with it - it's a bummer to drive 20 minutes to find out that a picture of a chair did not do justice to the awful stains all over it. Try Freecycle since at least the stuff is free.

Check out True Value Hardware for cheapo furniture, as well as a Marshalls & T.J.Max. There a few second hand furniture stores in Allston along Harvard Street, but it's also the bed bug epicenter. Sorry if I'm not much help, but maybe you'll be prepared for the expensive insanity that is Cambridge/Boston proper.
posted by Shusha at 6:01 AM on July 11, 2012

I'd recommend not buying a mattress or any upholstered furniture second-hand.

You can go to the Sears Outlet and get great mattresses, dirt cheap. They had a full Queen set for $191!

Also, many high end furniture stores and department stores have good sales on clearance furniture. (not great, but good quality and good value)

I've been able to get nice occasional chairs at Marshall's and their Case Goods have an ecclectic feel to them. Target is another source. Order on line and have items delivered to your door. Or, check out the end of season stuff

Check any second-hand wooden items for evidence of bed bugs.

This can be an adventure!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:06 AM on July 11, 2012

Welcome! Bostonian here.

Re. bedbugs: Don't get a bed, sofa, etc. used. There really isn't any way around that. (That said, the couch I'm currently sitting on was found in my friend's old apartment when he moved in. It's served a number of us well over the years... but if I had been there and seen it at the time, I would have been anxious about it.) Anything else should probably be okay off of Craigslist or Freecycle (which reminds me about that box of kitchen stuff I've been meaning to post up there for months... whoops).

The good news is that people might be pretty keen to unload quickly items in the coming weeks, since Boston's main rental cycle (September–August) is nearing its end. The thing with getting big stuff off of Craigslist and Freecycle is that you'll often need your own wheels (not sure if you'll have them). It also tends to be a bit first-come, first-served kind of thing, so the Zip Car route might not work as well, depending on the individual situation.

Alternatively, keep an eye out around Allston Christmas (late August/early September—and not actually limited to Allston). Tons of free stuff left outside, lots of it in decent condition. YMMV.

Good luck!
posted by divisjm at 6:15 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a mess of "vintage" furniture stores in Cambridge and Somerville that cater to the hipster/college crowd and have some really interesting stuff most of the time.

Metamorphosis in Porter Square
Eddie's, also Porter
Sunshine Lucy's, Davis Square

Eddie's and Sunshine Lucy's are owned by the same guy. All three stores specialize in taking older furniture and renovating it with new finishes, new upholstery, stuff like that. I've bought from all three of them and had good experiences with all of them.

Some other places we haven't tried but exist in the area:
Toni and Ana's, Powderhouse Circle in Somerville
Abodeon in Porter sells some very high end mid-century European furniture (lots of Danish teak and stuff like that)

There are a few others in the area that I'm blanking on right now. These stores do tend to turn over stock quite quickly so it's worth going to check them out every couple of weeks.

You may also be interested in the SoWa Open Market which has a "flea market" type thing in the building next to it where there are some recurring furniture resellers. There's also a new flea market in Davis Square on Sundays - we went once and it was small, but I hope that it will be building up as it gains momentum.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:17 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you need a mattress I'd suggest Sleep A Rama in Cambridge. Very nice sales guy, no used car salesman pitch, prices are very plainly shown and very reasonable.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:18 AM on July 11, 2012

Sunday morning road trip, in season: Todd's Farm. Always a prettty good selection of old/vintage/antique furniture, some crummy, some fantastic.
posted by Miko at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2012

I've gotten some really high-quality and cheap secondhand goods (solid wood bookshelves, chairs, a sofa, kitchen stuff) from the MIT Furniture Exchange, which gets its supply from professors' estates and visiting scholars who are here only for a year or two. They're open limited hours (more in the beginning of the school year) and you need to have or go with someone who has an ID from MIT, Harvard, Suffolk, or BU, but if you can do that they're definitely worth checking out.
posted by nonane at 7:10 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Eddie's/Sunshine Lucy's.

Really cool quirky stuff. Not cheap, but good. Got an awesome chair and some custom made bookshelves from them. Very happy with them. Definitely haggle.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 7:54 AM on July 11, 2012

Here's another idea, if you can make a trip about an hour north. Re-Enhabit is a cool vintage shop in Portsmouth, NH that has a changing selection of retro furniture for good prices. If you just pop in, you might not find something because the inventory isn't huge; but if you follow them on Facebook, they post new pieces frequently so you can see them when they come in, and it's likely they'd hold something for you for a short while.
posted by Miko at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: ALL BEST ANSWERS! These are amazing -- thanks so much! I feel a lot more confident that I can do this now.
posted by EtTuHealy at 12:05 PM on July 11, 2012

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