Articles · Upcycling

How Much is Not Enough?

I thought I’d write a piece on price points for upcycled furniture. So many people are now painting and selling second hand items, either to make some pocket money, or in my case, to make a living. But how much should we charge customers for our products?

Untitled design (5)

In recent years the number of people ‘doing up’ old furniture has sky rocketed and so, if I’m honest, the market has become over saturated. It’s not as special or niche as it once was and there are lots of positive and negative effects as a result:

The Good

  • Chalk Paint brands are thriving – they sell to stockists, amateur painters and occasional painters who just want to do up their own furniture once in a while.
  • Stockists are in turn selling more paint
  • Less furniture is being thrown out, which is also fantastic for the environment
  • Second hand/charity furniture shops benefit
  • Upcycling can save people a lot of money compared to buying new

Upcycled Girl's Bedroom Set in Vintro Amethyst at Shelles Chic

The Not So Good

  • Painted furniture has become more commonplace and less unique
  • The competition is stronger – for everyone
  • Casual painters or people who have access to free second hand furniture are underpricing their work, thereby doing themselves and more experienced painters a disservice
  • Underpricing painted furniture cheapens the concept and the work involved for all painters, everywhere

Here’s what I mean by the last point:

Jane has been painting for years and has bought a chest of drawers for £30. She paints  with expertise, using high quality products and prices it to sell at £95. Kate has just started painting as a hobby and acquires a similar chest of drawers. Because she hasn’t had to pay for it, she paints it and prices it to sell at £40. Kate just wants to sell her piece quickly, but hasn’t taken into account the actual value of the item, the paint, brushes and other products she has used, or the time it has taken her to do it. The outcome? Kate has not only undersold her time and effort, but she’s also lowering the price points for every other painter out there.

Meanwhile, Jane’s chest of drawers is proving harder to sell, despite the fact it’s a lovely, piece of furniture that has been painted with years of skill and would cost considerably more if it were brand new.

Regardless of what someone’s perception of second hand furniture is, it is still a business and a livelihood for many people out there. They have bought/acquired something, transported it, stored it, cleaned it, painted it, possibly used stencils/mouldings, photographed it and marketed it. They have invariably spent money on the item in terms of fuel, storage space, cleaning products, paint, brushes and finishing products. They may have rent and electricity bills. They may have paid to advertise their wares.

Drawers in Mini

So, if you’re a painter, please think carefully before selling something on which you’ve spent time, effort and passion, for peanuts.

If you’re not a painter, I hope this is a useful insight into the process and pricing of upcycled furniture and why it should never be sold for peanuts.


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