Buying Furniture On The Cheap In Philadelphia, Amy featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Interior Designers learn from every project. With that experience comes a wealth of knowledge.  Down2earth interior design’s approach incorporates sustainability and green design into our projects, and many like-minded people have become clients over the years.  So when the Philadelphia Inquirer published the  article, “Buying furniture on the cheap in Philadelphia: where to find it, what to look for, and when to just go to IKEA”  they reached out to Amy Cuker, d2e’s owner and lead interior designer, for tips on repurposing old into new and how to leverage IKEA. (Full article on >)

The article highlights many places around Philly to source second-hand furnishings. Secondhand is the ultimate in green design because you are reusing or repurposing something, and those old pieces are often higher quality than those you can find today. Amy shares the following tips in the Inquirer article on how to pick the secondhand items that are right for you:

For DIYers, these [secondhand]  finds present opportunities.

 “If it’s real wood, you can transform it,” said Amy Cuker, interior design director at Down2earth Interior Design. “Reimagine pieces that have an [undesirable] color or wood finish. Picture them with different paint and hardware.”

When you just can’t seem to find the what you are looking for by sourcing from secondhand shops there are other ways to make your interior design goals a reality. Amy suggests:

“Cut costs on items that don’t necessarily require top-notch durability to survive a lifetime, like end tables and consoles,” Amy Cuker told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

And sometimes, a cost savings strategy might just includes a trip to IKEA –  “Choose wisely at Ikea and other discount stores,” in that regard, Amy has the following advice:

Even though it won’t last for decades, Ikea furniture has its place.

“If you have a teenager, and they’re only going to be in your house for five more years, do you need to invest in lifetime furniture?” asks interior designer Amy Cuker. Her favorite Ikea pieces are the bathroom vanities, since many are slimmer than what can be found elsewhere.

Mass-produced, bargain-priced pieces aren’t likely to add much character to a room, but they’ll serve a function and blend easily into the background. Just don’t expect them to hold up much longer than five years (or survive a move).”

And think of the environment impact of buying such disposable pieces. Although it’s a near term bargain for the homeowner, fast furniture is not such a good deal for the planet. 

The Inquirer article goes on to say, “One of the greatest appeals of buying new, whether at Ikea or Raymour & Flanigan or elsewhere, is the ability to pay in installments. But choose wisely.


Look for solid wood in items like tables and desks. For couches, Cuker recommends seeking out “eight-way, hand-tied” suspension, a spring construction that increases comfort and durability. For any upholstered pieces, steer toward those with performance fabrics designed to be water- and stain-resistant. “


“Unfortunately, a lot of modern furniture is imported from manufacturers overseas who copy the styles of those remaining in North Carolina [a hub of modern-day furniture-making], but the pieces lose the constructional integrity,” Cuker said. “If you look for the right materials, though, you can ensure you’re starting with a baseline that’ll last.” Remember that low quality furniture isn’t a good long term investment to the homeowner or the planet.


Thank you to the Philadelphia Inquirer for sharing Amy’s sustainable and eco-friendly interior design expertise, check out the full article now > Here are some ways that our team has incorporated sustainable design in other posts on our blog if you are interested in learning more:

Habitat for Humanity’s Restore as a great place to buy and even donate items. Check out our past blog post on Restore > 

Jillian Bathroom Repurposed Furniture

Check out our decorating consultant Jillian’s wonderful examples of reusing and repurposing from her bathroom hutch (pictured above) to her flea market find pair of brass lights in her living room (below).

Copyright 2019 Rebecca McAlpin

Do any of these tips resonate with you or have you used any in the past to help create your space? Tell us in the comments!  

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