This post has been a lonnnng time coming! After sharing an Instagram story on Wednesday of my recent Milo Baughman style dining chairs I picked up, questions have rolled in steadily and pushed me to finish this blog post. Consider this your official vintage guide… here are my best tips & tricks for scoring used and vintage furniture. Click through for my
secrets tricks of the trade, and to see my best vintage finds throughout the years!
I’ll admit, I took a thrifting or vintage furniture break last year. Our previous home was stuffed to the brim and we just didn’t need anything else- it was already totally furnished and I loved each and every room as is.
Upon moving into our new home (which is significantly larger), it’s obvious we have a LOT of negative space. Although it feels pretty empty right now, I’m taking my time and am enjoying the thrill of the hunt for beautiful and functional furniture to fill our new house. We’re also on a budget right now. Our house payment is more, we have renovation projects we’re saving for, and that forces me to get creative with spending money to furnish this place. My solution as of now? Taking it slow and shopping for vintage & used items in the meantime.
Ironically, one of my friends (who is a VERY talented designer) lives a couple blocks away. She moved into her home a month before Emmett and I moved into our new place. In fact, I even asked her to walk through our house with me before we submitted our final offer. That’s how much I trust her input. All of this to say… we got to chatting the other day because I was drooling over her newly acquired furniture and decor.
Her place seriously looks like a million bucks and gets better every time I visit… I kept asking, “Where is this from? Where is that from?! Ooohhh, I love that- where’d you get it?”… and her response was the same every single time: it’s all used / secondhand. Then she proceeded to tell me what she paid for everything and my jaw hit the floor. THAT is the moment I got excited and re-energized to start shopping for our new house. Challenge accepted.
My biggest tip for creating a high-end… actually, “high-end” sounds pretentious… sourcing something of QUALITY (it’s true, they don’t always make it like they used to) for a curated look is typically less expensive than you’d think- as long as you have the time and patience to dig. Did you catch those keywords? Time and patience are the bread and butter to scoring good vintage & used furniture. I’ve found that money or your budget doesn’t really matter, but it’s more about the time you have to invest.
MY TOP 5 TIPS
- 01: Take Your Time // Rome wasn’t built in a day and my home isn’t going to be amazing in one month (or even one year)– it’s just not. The right pieces come when you least expect it and it takes TIME to curate a gorgeous home. If I’m searching for something specific, I’ll devote at least an hour every single day for scouring my sources (Craigslist, Marketplace, eBay, Etsy, brick & mortar thrift stores, etc).
- 02: Use Keywords // I think of keywords in 3 main categories: broad keywords (sofa, dining set, nightstand, etc), style keywords (mid century nightstand, hollywood regency etagere, colonial dresser, etc), and material or color keywords (blue sofa, linen bench, brown leather chair, etc). I typically begin with more specific narrow terms, then search the board keywords. You’ll find the best deals in the broad keywords because those sellers typically don’t know what they have, and on the contrary- you’ll find more of what you were looking for in the narrow keywords.
- 03: Search By Brand Name // This works great for gently used furniture! I often search Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, CB2, Crate & Barrel, etc… the brands I’m usually linking on the blog. You can even throw a keyword at the end of the brand to narrow your search even further… for example, “Pottery Barn White Sofa”.
- 04: Do Your Research // Before making an offer, I always research the listing price, material, and origin. I also try to make sure it’s coming from a clean, smoke-free home, or I have the means to repair, restore, or reupholster the furniture if needed.
- 05: Negotiate // There is always room for negotiation. If I really want a piece that is already spoken for- I’ll offer more money or sweeten the deal in another way. Maybe the seller needs the item picked up immediately? I’ll confirm that I could take it off their hands by end-of-day and pay cash. I also know when something is overpriced and am not afraid to offer less with evidence of why it is worth a lower amount. Never be afraid to negotiate- that’s just how this type of shopping works.
That’s all there is to it. Be persistent, put in the time, and good things will come. I promise! Just buy what you love and what makes you happy… and stick to the budget.
A different friend asked me a valuable question over the weekend, “How do you buy furniture before you’re ready to renovate or design a room?” My answer was easy… I just buy what I like. I don’t plug every single thing that comes into our home into a digital design plan that will eventually come to fruition in a year or two… I just buy what makes me happy in the now and make it work when the time comes to transform a room. Sure, sometimes I’ll need to buy something in real time as we’re working on a project, but more often than not- it happens randomly. Isn’t that the beauty of creating a space you love living in? That’s also what makes a home interesting.
In the end, I’ll always do what makes Emmett and myself happy. Is it a bummer to respond to a hundred messages with, “sorry, that is actually a vintage piece” rather than linking an accessible product? Yeah… I’m not making any money or commission and you guys can’t easily click a link to buy that exact thing, BUT- I think giving you the tools and encouragement to find something amazing and unique for your budget and aesthetic is even better. I also think being authentic to myself and my style is most important. You guys know how I roll- I mix high, low, vintage, basically anything goes. I hope this post helped to offer some valuable insight on sourcing and how I design.
One last fun fact / tip… my aforementioned design pal and I have been swapping furniture. Our husbands think it’s pretty funny and we fuel each other’s vintage shopping habit (maybe not the best thing), but that’s another great way to refresh a home if you have a similar style to a friend. Offer to swap or trade! Remember our old mid century coffee table? It now lives at her house, and I have a beautiful marble bistro table that will eventually adorn our entryway that came from her previous home. Get creative and collaborative with your besties! A friendly furniture swap is always a good idea, in my experience…. especially if your friends have amazing taste!
Lastly, I’m located in Salt Lake City- and most of you are scattered across the globe- so in an effort to roundup some of my favorite vintage finds- Etsy seemed like the easiest resource that is attainable to all. Feel free to shop my finds using the scrolling thumbnails below, and if you’re local and want some of my favorite brick & mortar thrifting spots… just shoot me a message or leave a comment! One of my big goals this year is to do more with less. I think that is also a good way to push creative boundaries- by sticking to a budget or setting limitations.