Shoppers may buy used model furniture from interior design firms that furnish model homes at annual spring cleaning sales, held by many to get rid of outdated, faded or scratched pieces.
Several interior designers suggested that buying used model furniture might not be as big a bargain as it seems because the furniture is purchased by designers more for appearance than durability.
"Wooden pieces are glued together, not screwed together," said Georganne Derick, president of Merchandising East in Laurel. "The upholstered pieces look great, but the seams may rip out or the fill inside may disintegrate quickly. It might be good for college students or people who only need furniture for a short time."
Kathy Fine, president of Fine Interiors Inc. in Pikesville said it is not uncommon for the best pieces to be snatched up by the builders or their friends and families. "The good stuff is gone fast," she said. "And what's left is no great bargain, but maybe that's because I can get my furniture at wholesale."
Maria Galiani, director of interior design for Models Inc. in Vienna, Va. (which sells used model furniture in its showroom, Model Home Furniture and Design), said her store's best deals are the custom window treatments and bedding. "We'll sell a $600 twin set -- dust ruffle, comforter, pillows and shams -- for $150 to $200," she said, adding that accessories are also a good buy.
A sofa at Model Home Furniture and Design can range from $200 to $1,100; upholstered chairs from $200 to $700; and end tables and cocktail tables from $100 to $600 each.
Jim Kretzing, director of operations at Builders' Design & Leasing in Gaithersburg, said a faded sofa at his store might cost $300 and a $2,500 dining room table and chairs with scratches $500 to $750.
Where to buy model furniture
Consumers may purchase furniture used in model homes at these businesses:
Model Home Furniture and Design: 8500 B Tyco Road, Vienna, Va. 22182.
Open Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.) and by appointment during the week.
Model Home Interiors: 10120 Bacon Drive, Beltsville, Md. 20705.
Open Fridays only (noon to 4 p.m.) -- allows only 40 people in at a time.
Builders' Design & Leasing: 7601 Lindbergh Drive, Gaithersburg, Md. 20879.
Open Monday through Saturday (9: 30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Sunday (noon to 5 pm).