How To Buy And Sell Furniture Like A Pro

I have made a living from flipping furniture for over 10 years. I did it part-time while my kiddos were little and at home.  But as they have gotten older, I have been able to spend more and more time painting, and now, I do it full time and I’m loving it!!! I’m so packed with custom work, that I am literally writing this while the rest of the house is fast asleep.  As with most things, with experience comes wisdom, and I have decided to share a few tips and tricks of how I make a living flipping furniture.

There are 2 parts to my job.  Flipping furniture and custom work.   Flipping furniture is my favorite because I love to hunt for a good deal, fix it up and resell it… but honestly, custom work is what pays the bills.   After years of painting, I make great coin fixing up other people’s pieces for them.   And when customers come to pick up their newly finished pieces, that “gasp, it looks amazing” never gets old!!!

Here are a few of my tips and hints to get you jump-started in the furniture flipping business!!

Desk painted in angora white with crystal drawer pulls
  1. Be Professional and Consistent

Before you do anything, you’ll new a few documents.   At a minimum:

  • Business Cards
  • Blank Quote Sheet
  • Blank Invoice Sheet
  • After Care Instructions

Brand everything in the same colors and fonts.   Browse Pinterest and Etsy for ideas!

Stay professional by always providing detailed quotes and have your clients sign them in agreement.   When you finish the job, provide your clients with a detailed invoice with NO surprises.   Offer them several ways to pay such as cash, cheque or etransfer.   You can even set up a Square account to accept credit card payment.

2. Create a Pricing Formula and Stick to it!

Trust me on this one!   Do your self a favor and come up with a pricing strategy for custom work.   This way, your quotes are consistent and easy to bang out quick.

I have a massive spreadsheet outlining all of my prices, so when a customer walks in and asks me how much it is to paint a 5 drawer dresser, I can give them a ballpark right away.   Of course, I don’t give any concrete quotes until I have a picture and measurements of the piece.. but I can give them an idea of what it’s going to cost.   I like to do a base price, and then count by drawer, shelf, or spindle.   For example:


  • Base Small: $80
  • Base Medium: $100
  • Base Large: $120
  • Drawers: Add $20 each
  • Shelf: Add $20 each
  • Legs: Add $20
  • Inside of Drawers: Add $20/drawer
  • 5 drawer dresser – Base ($80) + 5 Drawers ($100) = Total Cost $180

This is just an example of pricing.   You need to personally decide what your time is worth.   How long does it take you to paint wood furniture?  How much do your materials cost? Will you paint Ikea furniture or stick to hardwood?

Price out absolutely everything you can imagine and be specific.  Armchairs vs. armless….  Dining tables – pedestal base, top, leaf, etc… headboards in every size…desks – do they have a back panel.   Be specific and you’ll take a lot of stress off of yourself.

And NEVER sell yourself short.   Your time is just as valuable as theirs. Don’t forget it 😉

3. Take Pics of Everything and Document

You need to build credibility in this industry and the best way to do that to show people your work.   Whether its a whole dining room or just a small picture frame, take a before & after picture.   Write down what materials you used and the exact finish.

Start a Facebook page or a blog so you can show off all of your fabulous work.   Trust me… a portfolio goes a long way when booking jobs.

And no one says that your pics have to be super fancy!!   A simple Before & After is all you need!

4. Less is More!

I see this all the time… a beautiful french provincial desk refinished in off white with a bit of distressing. Gorgeous right?!?! .. BUT then there’s stenciling on top… and metallic wax on all the edges, and a dark glaze, and a floral transfer, and a little color blending…and and and.. Don’t forget that less is more when flipping furniture!!

Yes, your piece is gorgeous with all those bells and whistles.   I’m an artist too and can totally appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into beautiful artsy pieces, but the fact its, they just don’t sell as fast as the more simple pieces using a diy paint.   Artsy pieces need to be priced higher in order to recoup your time cost which makes it even more difficult to sell.

Don’t stop painting with loads of creativity… go bananas and paint until your heart is content… It feeds the soul.   Just know that you will make more money flipping simple pieces with neutral wood paint colors faster than you will flipping artsy pieces.

5. Choose your colors wisely

If I could give any word of advice to the furniture flippers out there, it’s to choose your furniture and colors wisely.

Anytime I take a large custom job like a bedroom suite or a kitchen set and ask the customer what color and finish they are looking for, I secretly do an eye roll in my head because it’s always white or black.   Or the dreaded “I can’t decide between light grey or dark grey”… I want to shake them and say “Be Bold.. Be Brave… paint your bedroom Navy Blue!!!!”   … But then a customer will ask me to paint their desk or cedar chest a bold red or olive green… so I get my color fix!!! 🙂

But really, even though I roll my eyes, it tells me a lot about my customer.  Generally speaking, customers want the larger pieces done with furniture paint in neutral colors, and the smaller accent pieces in great pops of color.

Don’t paint one single dresser in teal.   Who wants one teal dresser??   Not many people.   Instead, paint the dresser white or grey, and do a pair of nightstands in the teal… get it??!?!?

Paint the table and chairs in black, and the wine rack in red.

Where would you rather see hot pink and yellow?!?!?

I hope that these tips and tricks help you in your successful career flipping furniture.   It’s a great business to be in that ‘s rewarding, creative, and can be very lucrative.   Good luck!!