TikTok trend will help you discover if your charity shop furniture find is worth thousands or pennies

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Some pieces which are being sold for a few pounds in charity shops could actually be worth up to £68k.

People are still struggling with financial pressures in 2023, as the cost of living crisis continues into the new year. There does seem to be some good news on the horizon, as the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has pledged to half inflation this year, after it reached a 30 year high in 2022, and the Bank of England has also predicted that the cost of energy bills will fall within months.

But, these changes have not happened yet so, for the moment at least, people’s money is still being squeezed. This is evident in everyday life as the price of basic groceries has increased by an astonishing 30% and the cost of running a hot bath may rise to £1,023 this year. As a result of all of this, a lot of people still feel like their real time wage is falling.

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To top up their pay packet, some are turning to pre-loved marketplaces such as eBay, Vinted and Depop to sell things they no longer want in an attempt to make more cash for themselves. Some are even visiting their local charity shops in the hope of finding hidden gems that they can buy cheaply and then sell on these sites for more money than they paid.

On popular social media site TikTok the hashtag #furnitureflip has hit over 5.4 billion views as people showcase their secondhand furniture finds and their purchase and sell-on value. If you want to join these successful sellers, you may need some help to determine if things are priceless in the good or the bad way.

Some people are buying and then re-selling secondhand furniture to make more money.Some people are buying and then re-selling secondhand furniture to make more money.
Some people are buying and then re-selling secondhand furniture to make more money. | JackF - stock.adobe.com

Lucy Ward, brand director and vintage enthusiast at pre-owned marketplace Vinterior has spoken to NationalWorld to give her top five furniture flipping tips for those who want to get involved with finding great timeless pieces to make a profit from. She has all the knowledge to be able to spot rugs worth up to £68k and vintage furniture brands up to £1,000. Keep reading to learn more about her top tips.

  • Learn to identify antique rugs

Ward said there are three types of rugs to look out for when you are scouring the shops; Persian, Moroccan, and Turkish.

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Features to spot in a Persian rug include: high pile or flat weave, fringed edges with no evidence of them being sewn on, symmetrical floral patterns, and bold reds, blues, ivory and black colours are a staple.  For Moroccan rugs you need to keep an eye out for purple, pink and orange geometric patterns which are clearly made from natural dyes like berries. Like Persian rugs, they can also be high pile or flat weave. With Turkish rugs the key thing to spot is the ‘Turkish knot’. The rug will be made up of uniquely tied and twisted yarn to create this. Another staple for Turkish rugs also includes bold motifs of animals and flowers. Similarly to Moroccan rugs, these are also created by using natural dyes.

She added: “You can get a great deal on rugs when thrifting, and if you know what to look out for you have the opportunity to make a huge profit. Antique rugs are worth a large amount of money, and if you spot one in a charity shop, you’re likely to cash in. On Vinterior, we can re-sell antique rugs for anywhere between £65 and £68,000.”

Some antique rugs could be worth as much as £68k.Some antique rugs could be worth as much as £68k.
Some antique rugs could be worth as much as £68k. | Pre-owned marketplace Vinterior
  • Look for ‘pin and cove’ joints 

TikTok user @graceful_designs_vt recently shared that something to look out for when furniture thrifting in charity shops are ‘pin and clove’ joints - and Ward said she couldn’t agree more. These types of joints, also widely known as knapp joints, indicate that a piece is well made and from the late 1800s. Ward said: “They’re extremely unusual to see, as the joint type was reportedly only in use for about 30 years, and therefore are worth much more in value owing to their rarity.”

For something that’s a bit more common to find, she also advises trying to look for dovetail joints. Whilst they may not be worth as much as a pin and cove joint, they’re much easier to come across and indicate that a piece was well made in Edwardian times, she said.

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Knapp joints, also known as pin and cove, a pin and scallop or half moon, are a visually unique style of antique joinery. It is made up of two pieces of wood, one with circular holes that link to the other which has circular shapes cut in. A dovetail joint, meanwhile, is made from a set of hand cut interlocking wedges that fit together, joining two pieces of wood without the need for additional dowels, screws, or nails.

A knapp joint. Photo by TikTok/graceful_designs_vt.A knapp joint. Photo by TikTok/graceful_designs_vt.
A knapp joint. Photo by TikTok/graceful_designs_vt. | TikTok/graceful_designs_vt.
  • Look for a desired shape, and re-upholster

You can easily purchase a cheap run-down piece of furniture, such as a sofa or armchair, with a unique shape and re-upholster it to bring it into modern times. Ward said: “You’ll often find mid-century modern or 70s style armchairs in charity shops that need a lot of TLC.”

If you want to do this too, take a look at TikTok user @tastemadehome for inspiration who did just this with an old mid-century armchair, some wood polish, and new fabric.

Often, these pieces are well made but it’s the fabric that becomes dated, according to Ward, so upcycling it by re-upholstering with a more modern fabric, like a white or beige Sherpa, can allow you to sell it on for much more than it was purchased for.

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A re-upholstered chair. Photo by TikTok/tastemadehome.A re-upholstered chair. Photo by TikTok/tastemadehome.
A re-upholstered chair. Photo by TikTok/tastemadehome. | TikTok/tastemadehome.
  • Keep an eye out for vintage brand names 

There are certain brand names to keep an eye out for that will immediately increase the value of a piece, says Ward. On furniture there will occasionally be a printed logo or stamp on the piece to indicate who it was made by.

Ward added: “Great British brands to look out for include G Plan and Ercol. Having either of these names will immediately increase the value of your product as they are brands which are very much in demand, with Ercol even receiving upward of 9900 searches per month. Our sellers have earned anywhere between £300 to £1000 for an Ercol Windsor Chair.”

Lucy Ward, Brand Director and Vintage Enthusiast at pre-owned marketplace Vinterior.Lucy Ward, Brand Director and Vintage Enthusiast at pre-owned marketplace Vinterior.
Lucy Ward, Brand Director and Vintage Enthusiast at pre-owned marketplace Vinterior. | Pre-owned marketplace Vinterior
  • Solid wood pieces

If a piece of furniture is made of solid wood this is a great indication that a piece will stand the test of time. Ward said: “This material presents a timeless style, meaning these pieces are often easy to sell on, but also have the additional benefits of being durable and completely unique. With solid wood furniture, you can almost guarantee that your piece is one-of-a-kind as no piece of solid wood is the same. This is a great unique selling point to help sell-on the product after purchase too.”

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