When my husband and I were furnishing our apartment, we wanted to make it easy and buy everything from one store at once, using GSS promo codes.
But it turns out buying everything new costs a pretty penny, even with discounts. And after buying our Castlery dining table set, sofa and bed, we realized that our house was just a shoe cabinet and cabinet far from looking like a Castlery showroom.
Even though we wanted our furniture to look cohesive, committing too hard to a single theme by going all-out matchy-matchy would likely end up with something boring and impersonal.
We were also eager to fill our home with personal trinkets and decor, but we didn’t have enough surfaces to display them, let alone where to find them. Sure, there’s Taobao, but my Mandarin illiteracy and long shipping times put me off using it.
That’s when browsing through the owner’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, I realized I could give Carousell a try. Many of them, such as The OHKUR House and The Broke BTO, have embellished their homes in a unique way by purchasing coffee tables, rugs and more from the platform.
In fact, the owners behind The Broke BTO only spent $2,184 on furniture and decorating costs — and it’s not like their home had a minimalist aesthetic.
But I know what you’re thinking: “Eeee, the pre-loved is dirty!” Or “Ehhh, so hard to deal with.” Or even: “Uh, second-hand stuff could be cursed, you know.”
I had my doubts too, but videos and TikToks like this convinced me to at least do a search to see what’s available:
A solid oak sideboard, a discounted Scanteak TV console, a vintage porcelain lamp, a rattan shoe cabinet and several books later, I began to see Carousell as a treasure trove of homewares, rather only as a dump for unwanted items. (And so far, despite the presence of old things, my house doesn’t feel haunted.)
Not everything on Carousell is second-hand either – some sellers even offer new, custom furniture.
But because Carousell is such a big platform, finding your dream item can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Here are some things I wish I had known when I started shopping for home goods on Carousell.
1. Filter by “recent”
By default, Carousell shows you ads by “best match”. To avoid seeing the same things over and over again, click on “more filters” and sort by “recent”. This way, you’ll be able to browse new listings – hopefully before your competitors do.
2. Use general search terms
You might have an ideal item in mind – say, a vintage rattan dining chair – but not all sellers are so specific in their descriptions, so you’ll have a better chance of broadening your search terms. For example, you can try searching for “vintage dining chair” or “rattan chair”. You can even take it a step further and simply enter “dining chair” or “rattan” – after all, there is a wide range of what constitutes something so vintage, and the dining chair of your dreams. could be buried in a list for a collection of rattan homewares.
3. Use the photo search feature on the Carousell app
I was years old today when I discovered that the Carousell app had a photo search feature (FYI, this feature doesn’t work on a desktop browser, hence my boomer manually typing in things like “Ikea Ekedalen extendable table” in the search bar for months).
If there’s an item you like, but can’t afford to buy brand new, just save a picture of it on your phone and upload the image via the search bar. Either you will find something similar or you will see a listing for the exact item, but at a reduced price.
4. Use the “next” function on the app
These days, Carousell is much more than just a platform for getting rid of random objects. Many sellers use it as an e-commerce site. You will find pages of bespoke furniture, porcelain tableware, lamps, etc., there is a page for that.
Following responsible sellers or sellers whose style you like will increase the likelihood of you hitting the jackpot twice – who knows, maybe the seller who sold you a mid-century modern coffee table will create a listing for a console TV in the same style a few weeks from now.
5. It doesn’t hurt to be kiasu
Fastest fingers first! When you find something that really scores – affordable, in good condition, in trend – then bid ASAP and don’t underestimate. Chances are the seller has other offers, so make yourself the most attractive buyer possible.
Here’s what happened to me: after weeks of searching for a sideboard, I finally found one that looked perfect: it was lightly used, solid wood and had been shipped here from the UK meaning it looked different from all the other mass-produced sideboards from local franchises and Ikea.
When I messaged the seller asking if it was available, he said yes, but had a few other offers and was wondering when I would be free to pick it up.
Although I was inclined to bargain a bit (it was, after all, Carousell), I checked the price of the item against its price in the UK store it was bought from, and I saw that the seller had already lowered the price. price over $200, excluding shipping and sales tax.
I loved this buffet so much I didn’t care if the salesperson was evaluating other offerings or just saying that to create a sense of urgency. I closed the deal, told him I would host my own Lalamove, and got it early the next morning.
In other words, if you’re average on the item, negotiate. But if you like the item and would regret being ghosted by the seller, treat Carousell like an auction. The highest bidder wins!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask about item condition
That being said, “little used” or “very good” are subjective. They also do not indicate the usability of the item. If the description is lacking, here are some questions you should ask:
- What are the dimensions of this item?
- How easily do the drawers open and close? Should I oil any of them?
- What type of plug does this item use?
- When was the last time this item was cleaned?
- What is the stability of this item?
Just this week I came across a vintage pink ceramic lamp on Carousell. It was adorable and I wanted it right away. But alas, it had a type A/B two-prong plug.
When I asked the seller what kind of adapter I would need, and if it could cause voltage issues since the lamp is presumably quite old, he assured me that it would work with a standard power strip adapter, and even offered to give me a spare adapter. three-prong plug.
So if you have a little doubt about an item, do not hesitate to ask for more details. Most sellers are very accommodating, but while the casual seller may be annoyed with all the questions, it’s better to be ghosted than to bring home something with chips, which could potentially start a fire or fall on a child.
7. Be prepared to give your items some TLC
Every once in a while, you’ll come across an item that’s either heavily discounted or free, but looks a little worse off. Maybe the paint is chipped, the surface is scratched, or it has a pretty heavy wine stain.[[nid:525922]]
If you’re up for a new project, treat it like a new DIY – and if you need some inspiration, check out how The Broke BTO restored their beautiful rattan shelving unit!
Finally, searching for items on Carousell can be quite tedious. Browsing dozens of new listings a day, corresponding with sellers and comparing prices can take hours. We’re guessing you don’t have time for that (and really, who does?).
Plan a certain number of sailing hours and stick to it. Don’t let the app become the equivalent of a slot machine. Your shopping list can contain 10 items, but focus on one thing at a time and don’t dwell on the items you miss – there will always be another, and anyway your tastes may change with the time and you’ll be grateful I bought something else after all.
This article first appeared in Wonderwall.sg.