As a designer, I don’t mind spending money on our home. In fact, I’d rather spend money on furniture, decor, and renovations than on clothing or cosmetics, but that’s just my personal preference. Creating a home Emmett and I love makes me really happy and brings me joy! All of that to say, while I don’t mind splurging on a beautiful light fixture, a vintage rug, or high-end building materials, I do appreciate a good deal and definitely shop around… especially when it comes to furniture. Last week on Instagram, I shared Emmett and myself cruising around in a classic car (a ’69 Mustang for you car people) while my SUV was in the shop, and I captioned, “They don’t make them like they used to.” I think the same holds true with furniture. If you’re looking for heirloom quality or designer furniture, it often comes with a hefty price tag- much like a classic car. Luckily, there are plenty of ways and resources to work within your budget when sourcing this type of furniture. Nothing is out of reach and you can snag some great deals! Click through to read about 5 ways to score quality, high-end furniture on a budget! I’m breaking down my top sources and how I navigate each.
#1 : ESTATE SALES
I’m kind of an estate sale fanatic at this point. I probably go to one per month! I’ve always loved estate sales, but this year especially- they’ve been a fun and creative “break” for me. I’m often asked how I find these local estate sales, and how I determine which ones are worthy of my time. I’d recommend researching LOCAL estate sale companies- as if you were going to sell your own home and the contents within it. You can find out a lot about how a company operates, the premier (or higher end) companies, as well as how busy or how many sales they host per month. Once you identify the top estate sale companies in your area, follow them on social media, subscribe to emails, and make sure you’re “in the know” for upcoming sales.
My favorite local estate sale company (here in Salt Lake City), is great about sending email notifications and posting upcoming sales on social media. They usually begin by sending dates. A week or two later, they’ll share 7-10 photos inside the home, and then I spend time analyzing those photos. What am I looking for? Interesting furniture, decor, high-end finishes, just an overall sense of the home and the items that fill it. Often times the company will post brief descriptions with the overview images, which influences my decision to go to a sale. They’ll share the square footage of the home, the address, as well as featured collections or certain furniture callouts (Persian rugs, Delft pottery, custom upholstery, etc). Estate sales are an amazing way to score high-end pieces… you just have to identify which sales are worth your time. I think a big part of that is figuring out which company hosts the best sales in your area.
#2 : FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE
This is probably the most popular, mainstream resource for scoring quality, vintage, or high-end furniture. You know I love Facebook Marketplace (and even have a blog series devoted to it), but given its popularity- that also means it’s a more competitive market. I’ve noticed I have to spend more time digging lately, a bit more money, and more time & energy, in general. It actually reminds me of the housing market right now… inventory is being snatched up so quickly and if you really want something, you have to be willing to pay more or be extra quick to make an offer. Don’t worry though- I shared my 7 best tips for scoring the FBMP item you really want. I go into great depth and have had success despite the competitive market! It’s a wonderful resource that I still enjoy spending time on, and I do think it pays off. My dining set is proof, and one reason why I’ll never give FBMP up. Haha! You never know what you’ll find.
#3 : AUCTIONS
Auctions are a newly discovered resource for me. I used to be intimidated by them, but after testing my luck at a couple online auctions (like Everything But The House) and gaining confidence, I decided I could try an in-person auction. We receive flyers in our mailbox almost weekly for auctions (still not quite sure how we ended up on that mailing list), and Emmett was the one who suggested we check it out sometime. Again, this is another instance where you should get to know your local auction houses and their reputation (some specialize in furniture, some specialize in farm equipment, etc). It’s an amazing way to find cool things on a budget, but you do have to understand how it works and know what you’re doing. Before you show up, preview the inventory and mark the items that interest you. Figure out what you want to buy, research the going price for the furniture you’re interested in, set a budget (how much you’re willing to spend), and figure out transportation. Before bidding begins, familiarize yourself with the terms, regulations, bidding process, and rules. Know your payment options and stick to your number. I’m not sure if my strategy is correct, but I never bid first or seem too interested- even if I’m really excited!
#4 : THRIFT SHOPS & ANTIQUE STORES
I will say, traditional thrift or consignment shops are often less expensive than traditional antique stores. You’re likely to find a better deal at a THRIFT store, but if you don’t feel like digging or spending the time to frequent the store to see what is new- an ANTIQUE store might be a better fit. Even if the price is a little higher, you’re usually saving time… and it’s more of a niche selection, whereas thrift stores contain anything and everything (clothing, furniture, shoes, books, toys, whatever). I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between the two- they’re both valuable resources, but offer different experiences and selections. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think “luck” is involved with thrift shopping. An experienced thrifter knows the best stores, where to go, when vendors restock, and shows up often to scour the store. It takes a trained eye and a lot of time, but the reward (and thrill of the hunt) is always worth it! I think the best thing you can do to become a good thrift or antique shopper is to simply get out there and go… it’s all about experience and hours spent in the trenches.
#5 : ONLINE RESOURCES
Online resources such as Etsy, eBay, and Chairish offer collectors or individuals a platform to sell their possessions. I’ve purchased from all three websites and have had wonderful experiences with them all! The upside to online resources? You can shop from the comforts of your couch, save items to wishlists, take time to ponder the pieces you’re deciding on, and compare prices. It also gives you a vast database to shop from, given many of these resources are nationwide or worldwide. Instead of limiting yourself to your local area, you’ve expanded your search range (by a lot), which means more options and more variety. The biggest downside to purchasing online is the shipping cost. Shipping large or heavy furniture is always costly. However, you can mitigate a lot of that by arranging your own freight. I typically use Greyhound when purchasing from Etsy and pickup my furniture at the local station. It’s usually a fraction of the price of white glove delivery- I’m talking MAJOR savings.
Do you use any of these resources? If so, which one is your go-to or favorite? Do you have any other tricks for scoring high-end or designer furniture on a budget? If you’re interested in another home renovating or decorating post that involves creating more room in the budget or scoring designer items for less, be sure to check out 10 ways to save money on major home buys. That’s another post that has been really helpful and popular lately… I’m spilling more secret tips in that one!