Designer's secret: Where to find high-end, designer furniture at fraction of cost

By Andrea Slaydon

HOUSTON - Would you put hotel furniture in your home? What about if you could buy it at a super-discounted rate?

Hotels are full of high-end, designer furniture, and when they remodel, you can buy the furniture for your own home. There are only a few places around the country that offer this type of service and one of those places is in Houston.

Southwest Surplus, off Interstate 45 in North Houston, has a warehouse full of everything from armchairs and sofas to end tables and lamps, all brought in from high-end hotels around the country.

"This place is a plethora of fun, really," said Andrea Files, with Southwest Surplus. "We liquidate four- and five-star hotels, we bring it into our own warehouse and then we sell it to the public. It's really great pricing."

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with it," customer Bob Brown said of the furniture. "It will be much, much less expensive than if you went and bought it off a retail floor someplace."

Because hotels get constant traffic, the furniture is built strong to last through years of wear and tear.

"Furniture that is made for a hotel is never going to wear out: the abuse that it takes in a hotel, the things that go on in a hotel guest room... " Brown said.

"Maybe there is a few dings here and scratches here, but it's completely easy to overlook, because it's such a high-end piece of furniture," Files said.

During a visit to Southwest Surplus, KPRC Channel 2 News found a high-end wicker and wooden sofa from a wine country resort in Napa, California. The sofa goes for $3,000 in the retail world, but it's selling at Southwest Surplus for $300.

Sofas start at $99 and side tables go for $50. Accent chairs are always in stock and also start at $99.

"They pretty much go out as soon as they come in," Files said.

You can even stock up your kitchen.

"Our dining sets start at $199 and that includes the chairs," she added.

There is a huge wall of artwork and mirrors of all different sizes that start at just $20.

"If you can look beyond the picture itself, the frames are gorgeous," Files said. "They are gold, they have texture to them and some are contemporary or modern."

Southwest Surplus is also a popular stop for designers and people who reupholster furniture. Johnny Diaz runs Diaz Furniture and Upholstery and is always repurposing items from the store.

"If a customer buys furniture here and they don't like the fabric, they call me and I do the upholstery work," Diaz said. "If the frame is made out of good wood, like oak or poplar, it's good."

Another thing to consider: Most high-end hotels have their furniture custom made, adding to the unique discovery you could find.

"It's something you would not normally see in a regular furniture store," Files said. "There are so many pieces here you can put together to make an entire room out of."

Not all the furniture items are used. Most hotels have what they call "attic stock," extra merchandise stored away in case a replacement is ever needed. It's possible to find furniture that's never been used. They also have luxury blankets that are often new, out of the box.

It's interesting to look at the list of hotels that work with Southwest Surplus, because it gives an idea of the style or type of furniture some may find. For example, the Sheraton Steam Boat Resort in Steamboat Spring, Colorado, or the Hilton Hill Country Hotel in San Antonio.

Here is a more comprehensive list of hotels that have recently worked with Southwest Surplus:

Austin, Texas:

  • Capital Place Hotel Austin
  • Lakeway Resort
  • Renaissance

Dallas:

  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • The Fairmont Dallas
  • Hilton Anatole Hotel
  • Intercontinental Hotel
  • Marriott City Center

Galveston:

  • Harbor House at Pier 21
  • Moody Convention Center
  • The Hotel Galvez
  • The Treemont House
  • Hilton Galveston Island Resort

Houston

  • DoubleTree Galleria
  • Hotel ZaZa (The Warwick Hotel)
  • Houstonian
  • Hyatt Regency Downtown
  • Intercontinental Hotel
  • Omni Inn On The Park
  • Renaissance Houston Hotel
  • Royal Sonesta
  • St. Regis Hotel
  • Westin Inn at the Ball Park

Laredo, Texas:

  • La Posada Hotel and Suites

San Antonio:

  • Hilton Hill Country
  • Hilton Palacio Del Rio
  • Marriott River Center
  • St. Anthony Wyndham

Phoenix:

  • Arizona Biltmore
  • The Phoenician

Desert Springs, California:

  • JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort
  • La Quinta Resort

Long Beach, California:

  • The Westin

Marina Del Rey, California:

  • Marriott

Steamboat Springs, Colorado:

  • Sheraton Steamboat Resort

Marco Island, Florida:

  • Hilton Beach Resort

Naples, Florida:

  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Waldorf Astoria

Atlanta:

  • Westin Peachtree Plaza
  • Doubletree Buckhead

Chicago:

  • O'Hare Marriott

New Orleans:

  • La Meridien
  • Queen & Crescent
  • Sheraton

Beltsville, Maryland:

  • Sheraton College Park North

Hunt Valley, Maryland:

  • Wyndham Grand

Reno, Nevada:

  • Harrahs Hotel & Casino

Tulsa, Oklahoma:

  • DoubleTree Downtown

Hilton Head, South Carolina:

  • Holiday Inn

Charleston, West Virginia

  • Marriott

San Juan, Puerto Rico:

  • Intercontinental Resort & Casino

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