Many people inherit vintage furniture sets from their parents and they don't know how much they are worth in today's market or where to sell them. I am not an appraiser of furniture, and cannot give a fixed amount for a piece, but I can tell you that French Provincial sets are really popular since Restoration Hardware, Aidan Gray, and Wisteria all sell the same looks for hundreds of dollars. French Provincial furniture has become a hot commodity with people who are looking for the same looks for a lot less. Wisteria and Aidan Gray sell french provincial furniture with stunning paint finishes, new linen upholstery, and it really goes to show how these vintage sets can look stunning with a little bit of improvement, modern upholstery and a coat of paint.
For years, as a hobby, I would pick up french provincial bedroom sets and repaint them. It enabled me to try out new finishes and resell them on craigslist. For me, I enjoyed the process of learning new faux finishes, but I was also able to gather some valuable lessons in reselling vintage furniture.
From my experience the three main buyers for French Provincial furniture. There are those who are looking for a set for their children, and the other market is the individual who is looking for additional furniture for their homes, and last but not least, there is the last buyer who turns furniture over for a profit.
The first set of buyers are usually parents of toddlers who have outgrown their baby furniture, and are looking for something beautiful, but within a budget. Often times they are looking for something freshly painted, which looks like new. Sadly, ALL wood furniture is rare, which leads many people to craigslist, ebay and second hand shops which carry vintage quality furniture. New parents enjoy the first time experience of decorating their children's rooms, so often times they want something nice, and not used and abused.
In the past I would pick up french provincial dressers, paint them a cream, distress them, glaze them and resell them for around $280 for the typical french provincial dresser. 9 drawer dressers I would price around $320-$340. These dressers were freshly painted and refinished. If you are selling a simple vintage dresser without the paint finishes, don't be afraid of pricing your furniture a little high, which gives you plenty of room to lower your price. Most new parents want a fresh creamy white set, than any other color. When I experimented with color at one point, I also noticed some of these buyers moved on to other pieces because they wanted white dressers, not colored pieces.
The second buyer are people who are interested in decorating. They are looking for French, Swedish or cottage looking furniture to improve their homes. French furniture has been tremendously popular in all the current magazines. The problem is that most companies are producing contemporary furniture, because french furniture costs more money to reproduce. Since this furniture is not available at an affordable price point, it forces most people to buy it used.
I have noticed that some cities have more french furniture than others. Port cities will have more french furniture than the middle of the United States. The bigger cities have a fair bit of nice looking antiques on their local craigslist, and within thrift stores, but every location will vary. Living in Washington DC, I found I really had to dig around for French Provincial sets, while living in Seattle, more sets would show up monthly.
The third set of buyers are the people who are looking for sets to refinish, and turn over for a profit. These people can range from the average husband or wife who paints to supplement their income to antique shops with a country wide market. These buyers are working with budgets, so they will try to get the lowest price possible.
It is important for both buyers to be fair and deal with each other with the utmost respect. Remember, buying from one another is supporting families not huge box stores with multi-million dollar budgets. Spring and summer are times where these vintage sets would come out, where as the winter times are slower.
In terms of how much to sell your set for....
Looking through craigslist is a great place to see what other people have their sets marked at.
To do a country wide craigslist search, COPY one of the lines into google search:
french provincial set site:craigslist.org
french provincial dresser site:craigslist.org
french provincial site:craigslist.org
This feature works with any site, if you are looking for something particular.
I wrote up an article giving my best tips on reselling items on craigslist:
From my own experience, I normally didn't sell furniture in sets. The reason for this is many people think twice when a person is asking 1K for a used set, compared to 200 dollars for a piece of furniture. From my experience, most of my furniture tends to fly out the door around $180-$280. Beyond the $300 range, people tend to hold back. Again, start out high, and you will have plenty of room to move around.
French Provincial Dining Sets:
If you have a french provincial dining set with a hutch and a table and chairs, consider selling the table and chairs as one set, and the hutch separately. In the past I have refinished hutches and sold them for $380. Depending on the location you can sell them for less or more.
French Provincial tables vary in price. Round french provincial tables are quite popular and very hard to find. I have sold only 2 in the past several years. Many people who have smaller areas to work with love the smaller french tables which work perfectly in a nook, or the house that doesn't have an official dining room.
Vintage dining room tables donated at thrift stores often have the leaves misplaced, so expect this if you shop at second hand stores. If you do have a set which does have the leaves, it is worth quite a bit more, than a table which the leaves are missing. French provincial chairs are also hard to find. Most often, typical french sets have 5 to 6 chairs. It is not uncommon to also buy sets with only 4 chairs.
Most of the time I would find sets without chairs and would sell the individual tables for $180- $380. 10 foot provincial tables are hard to find, and would be listed close to $400 or more depending on the style.
Generally in the past I have sold my french provincial tables for around the $180- $380 mark, China Hutches around $340 mark and a set of french provincial chairs $280 for 6 or so, depending on the look.
Pricing furniture on craigslist is much different than having a retail store which typically asks for much more. French provincial furniture on ebay are often listed by antique stores whom don't mind listing at a certain price point until it is sold. In addition, furniture which is antique, is worth more than furniture which is vintage.
French Provincial Bedroom Furniture
Every set is different. I have seen some sets with 7 pieces, and others with only three pieces. Some provincial bedroom sets were created for children, and others for adult bedrooms. One dead give away that a set was originally marketed towards children is they often include a hutch or desk. Some of the Dixie French provincial furniture often comes with only one nightstand, which I would find frustrating, because most adults like sets of two. Wood dressers were mostly marketed towards adult sets, but white sets were common for adult sets as well.
I specialized in selling dressers which were repainted, and distressed, and the average price I would ask is $280. Larger dressers I would sell for more, and french provincial sets with serpentine fronts (the wavy fronts), I would sell for much more because they were very hard to find.
Nightstands in my experience, I would sell anywhere from $40- $100 each. If you have a set of two, they can be a great find for the decorator, or the parent looking to improve their children's room.
I normally didn't sell the mirrors with the dressers, because it tends to date the dressers even more. I would sell off the mirrors by themselves for $40-$60 dollars each. Many people like the curvy mirrors for their fireplaces than for the dressers.
French Provincial Living Room Sets:
French Provincial upholstered sofas and chairs can be the hardest to sell out of all the sets. Vintage sets often have spectacular frames, but terrible fabrics. These sets are often bought by those people who don't mind putting the work into them to have them slip covered or re-upholstered. A french sofa from Restoration Hardware can easily cost up to 4K, so these vintage sets are really great for the specific buyer who doesn't mind investing in the right fabric for their home. A professional upholsterer can range anywhere from $400 to $2000, so remember that they might be keeping that in mind when looking at a vintage set. The living room coffee tables and end tables fetch around $60- $100 dollars a piece. Marble coffee tables can range from $180- $280. There is a huge market for these pieces because of the style.
Again, my article on reselling items on craigslist includes some practical tips such as blowing up your pictures using photobucket, and how to deal with potential customers.
Including words like "shabby" or "cottage" "cottage furniture", "shabby chic", "painted furniture", "beach", "coastal furniture", "white furniture", all will call attention to those buyers who specifically look for french furniture.