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What You Need to Know Before Taking That Couch Off the Street

Your bedbug-free apartment will thank you.
Maybe not the best idea to bring this sofa into your apartment.
Maybe not the best idea to bring this sofa into your apartment.KayVee.INC/Flickr

Nathan Hescock owns a used furniture store on the corner of 32nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan. He also teaches an evening ballroom dance class at the United Nations; when the weather is nice, he’ll leave work and walk there, a half hour through Murray Hill and over to the headquarters on the East River. Along the way, he scans the sidewalk for discarded furniture. Once, he picked up a chandelier. Getting it though the security scanners at the UN, he says, was a struggle. But it was worth it.

“I’m a huge advocate of picking up found furniture,” says Hescock. The things that people throw away have a sense of history about them. Plus, “there’s the environmental aspect,” he adds. It’s hard to justify always buying new when, if you know what you’re looking for, city streets can become your personal flea market—one that’s delightfully free.