Why Shopping Furniture Outlets is Awesome (and Scary)

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you know I’m a big fan of finding things at amazing discounts. There’s something about shopping and scoring big that gives me a rush. Since it can be a bit addicted I’m careful to avoid doing it ALL the time, and save my savvy shopping skills for big purchases.

One of the best ways to save on some of the big purchases in your life have been outlined before on the blog, like how to buy a car, but buying furniture is one of the things I love the most.

Our house isn’t meant to be a showplace, however. It’s a place I work, a place we sleep, a place we laugh, a place we eat, and a place where 4 very active kids live. While we have occasional visitors and I’ll share snippets of life here on the blog, the reality is I buy a couch because it’s comfortable enough to sleep on and a dining room table because it’s got enough space for our family and then some.

Several years ago I had an awesome bedroom dedicated to being our office. It had two desks, and our two comfy chairs, storage space and a door. God bless doors when you’re on a conference call and your kids are at home.

Unfortunately, that space got turned back into a bedroom which is for the best for our kids and for when my parents come to visit, but not so happy for me. I made use of one of the desks for awhile, and we tried various solutions without any of them really working well. Working on the couch became a regular thing, and that’s NOT good, well aside from catching up on Real Housewives. (I have a girl crush on Nene after this season.)

When we remodeled the family room  (and bought our couch)  last year we opted to keep it a mostly toy-free zone. Our kids are beyond needing to have tons of toys everywhere, so it’s not a huge sacrifice for them either. Yes, the kids still play in there, but the main function of that room is to relax, watch TV and movies, read, and enjoy the fireplace. I also use it often to fold our laundry since the laundry room is right off the family room since I always thought TV and folding laundry go together like PB&J.

We had this living room space that was kind of odd. It was half library, half work space, and half play space. You can see how that doesn’t add up, right? The grand plan we hatched a few months ago was to buy a GIANT dedicated table for the living room, beef up our storage and turn it into more of an office/game/craft area, and less of a messy, confusing work and play space.

Part of the change meant making room in all four bedrooms for desks. Since we had two desks on hand I moved the largest one into our boys’ room for them to share. I measured carefully and discovered that my plan to add a desk to our daughter’s closet space got super simple. We already had an Ikea desk that would fit nearly perfectly in her closet!

Next we went out and purchased two additional desks, both also from Ikea. For my older daughter, Emma, we chose the Micke desk from Ikea. She wanted drawer space and we wanted something long and a bit lean, so this fit the bill perfectly. At $89 it was cheap enough that I could stomach the pricetag, and months of thrifting had turned up nothing, so this was worth it to finally get her the desk she wants.

For my bedroom I wanted something simple. It’s not a place to be cluttered or have tons of stuff, just a landing spot for laptops, books, or an iPad when I need to work away from the kids when they are home occupying the living spaces downstairs or I am working late while my husband is watching TV. I picked this tabletop and legs. Yes, the legs were pricey, but I love the way it looks!

Now we were left with creating a space in our living room. In the meantime the kids started using their desks and I worked from the desk in our room.

We eyed up our options including building our own desk, window shopping at tons of stores and online, but we couldn’t figure out exactly what we wanted. We came up with several concepts and layouts for the space, but eventually settled on creating a clutter-free workspace. The concept is to create a distraction-free workspace where a large table would act like a work space. Not a catchall, not a place to leave papers and files, and scattered projects. The kids have their own space for those, and we do most of our work digitally, so all I need is a few organization options on the adjacent shelves to make the space work well and a weekly cleanup to purge all the junk they tend to pile up.

In the end settled on this dining room table from Restoration Hardware both because of the details-we love rustic and industrial mixed with some of the more traditional elements of our 1970 colonial home, and because we knew it would stand up to whatever we (and let’s face it the kids) would throw at it or on it. 😉

The only problem? The pricetag. We are used to spending well under $100 on desks, so biting off a $1295 table with shipping and tax was not going to happen. Instead we took our time saving up credit card points to turn into gift cards, and stalked our local(ish) Restoration Hardware Outlet. We had previously purchased our family room couch from the Outlet as well as curtains, so I knew the quality was perfect, and often there were no notable defects.

The staff at our local RH Outlet is AWESOME. They are always available to answer questions, and informed me I should call in on Tuesdays (when they get shipments) to find out if they had any Flat Iron tables come in since there were none in stock on our last visit. I also left my phone number with them after a recent visit when the associates said they had the PERFECT table in the back (112 inches, zinc finish legs) but no hardware to go with it.

I called back the following Tuesday and they said that the hardware didn’t come on the truck that week (whomp whomp). But one of the sale associates said he could use the hardware from another table and have it ready for us by the end of the day. (WOOHOO!)

112″ is HUGE (10 feet, in case your math is rusty). I folded down the seats in my minivan and did some measuring and by my calculations it would JUST fit. You can probably see where this is going.

I eagerly waited to drive to the outlet (about 35 minutes from us) until they were done, and once my husband was home I drove over to get the table.

It was in PERFECT shape, and I finalized our purchase with tons of gift cards spending about $400 out of pocket. Still a hefty price tag, but this is a piece I know we’ll have forever.

The guys in the back got it all wrapped u pand ready for me to take home, but then they tried to put it in the car. Whomp, whomp. It didn’t fit by a LOT. And silly me I had taken out our bungee cables when I emptied my car out, and the outlet doesn’t provide rope. Oops.

The guys at the RHOutlet however would not give up. They padded the end of the table and used a shrink wrap and lots of it to secure the end of the table to the car. It was like MacGyver meets ninjas or something. I was FREAKED out so I didn’t even bother to take a picture.

Once they were done, I made a plan to drive on a main but less traveled road to our house (once I went 4 miles on a busy highway). It was late at night, FREEZING cold, and the whole time my car was beeping at me for having the liftgate up.

I’m happy to say the table and I survived the trip, but my arm was sore from holding onto the table with one hand while I drove. I drove that way as if I could stop it from falling out with one hand.

It was almost as nerve-wracking as driving our newborns home, only I never worried about them falling out the back.

So while I highly recommend shopping at furniture outlets, you may want to think a bit more before you buy. Or measure better than I do.

Here are some shots of our desk in all its’ glory. Isn’t he handsome?

Desk closeup


What adventurous tales of furniture shopping do you have?


About Kelly

Kelly Whalen is the founder and editor of the Centsible Life blog. She started the blog 6 years ago as her family faced a mountain of debt. The blog became a resource to readers and a hub for everything you need in life for less. Kelly lives in the Philadelphia area with her superhero husband, 4 awesome kids, and one adorable dog. She still believes you can have it all....just not all at once.


  1. lifewithkaishon says

    I didn’t know we had a Restoration Hardware around either. What an awesome adventure : ).

    On another note, I hate when the car beeps at me on a long ride. It drives me batty!

  2. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says

    I had no idea there was an RH outlet in the area. Going to check that out for sure. Great table!

  3. says

    I’m pretty manic about bringing in a very technical diagram of all the measurements of my house space when I go furniture shopping.

    I like that you mention that a couch has to be comfortable enough to sleep on. I’m always pretty sheepish at furniture stores about letting them know that this is one of my criteria and trying to ease it into the conversation that they should be OK with me lying down on couches in the store.

    • says

      Don’t be discouraged by high prices-they often have 30% the whole store type sales, and if you dig you can find stuff that’s been on the floor too long that’s super cheap!

  4. Carrie MkgLemonade says

    I drove 1.5 hours out to the Crate & Barrel outlet in NJ for a table only to discover it didn’t fit! WHOMP WHOMP is right. I’m actually glad it didn’t work out because we ended up with a Restoration Hardware table for only $599 on sale. And I’m SO in love with it. Guess the furniture fairies were looking out for me that day. I’m thrilled to know the RH associates are so helpful, I have a feeling this won’t be the last piece of RH furniture that we own. 😉

    • says

      Oh noes! Sounds like it worked out in the end!

      We have several RH pieces and love them all! My husband has the Buster chair and ottoman. We got it for him as his 30th birthday gift, and I know it will last us forever.

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