First, just let me say that great design doesn’t have to be expensive!
With a little thought, planning and patience, you can create a home worthy of being in a magazine.
I believe that every person wants to live in a home that reflects who they are and who they want to become. People desire to surround themselves with items that give them comfort, are functional and show their unique style.
I also believe in never paying retail!
I don’t know if it’s because of how I was raised or if it’s something in my DNA, but I have a strong aversion to the words “full price”.
There are so many great sources for curating a very unique and personalized style within a reasonable budget. Why pay thousands of dollars for a sofa when you can get one for a third of the price, am I right?
So where can you go to get a well-designed look at a fraction of the cost?
There are lots of options and the word you need to remember and embrace is “second-hand”.
While many people get a “high” from buying new, I tend to enjoy the thrill of the hunt!
There’s nothing better than finding a fabulous piece of furniture at a price you can’t beat! The beauty in a second-hand piece is found not only in the price point, but also in its style.
The interior of any home should tell “your unique story”.
Therefore, I believe that homes should be eclectic and collected instead of looking like they were “bought as sets”.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When buying furnishings for your home, look for pieces that have good “bones” (a.k.a. shape and functionality). If it’s second-hand, look past the “ugly” if there is any (color, finish, fabric) because all that can be changed.
Never buy anything that is in bad shape. If a piece has veneer that is peeling, wobbly legs, cracks, chips, or smells funky…you might want to walk away.
Look for sturdy, well made items that can be updated either by a little refinishing or upholstery work. Always remember, quality is in the details such as dovetail joints, furniture that shows a manufacturer’s stamp/mark, solid wood construction, hand-ties support systems in couchse/chairs, etc.
If all this sounds like a foreign language, just ask. You’ll learn quickly why these details are important.
Some people think having furniture refinished or reupholstered is expensive. Keep in mind that the price you pay for the second-hand piece, along with the materials and labor to refinish it, will be far less than if you bought it new, especially if it’s a collectable.
It’s all perspective.
Plus, if you are the DIY type, you can do the updating on your own and save that extra cost. If you aren’t into DIY or you realize that the job will require a more skilled hand, know that your investment will be worth it in the end because you’ll end up with a beautifully collected home that will last for years!
The most important point is to buy what you love!
HOW TO FIND YOUR STYLE
I always recommend to clients to look through magazines, catalogs and websites to get an idea of what they like. You can also use Pinterest or Houzz to gather ideas as they are filled with great photos.
Create a folder or notebook with examples of furniture, art, accessories and styles to help you furnish your home. If you have a friend to bounce ideas off of, they can be very helpful in your research.
You can also touch base with a designer, if you care to have an expert eye and opinion. With a paid consultation, a designer will review your ideas and goals, and help you set a realistic budget. You can then take that information and use it as a guide in your search.
Think “design coach”…a role I’ve filled numerous times.
When it comes to color, people tend to decorate their homes similar to how they dress. If you love wearing bright bold colors, you’ll most likely love surrounding yourself with the same in art and furnishings.
If you prefer neutrals, with pops of color, the same thing goes. Look at what you wear and compare that to inspiration rooms you see. Are there similarities or are they polar opposite? Most likely, you’ll find similarities.
'Follow your heart. Your home should be chapters of who you are.' Kate Keesee #salvagediorClick To Tweet
SECOND HAND RESOURCES:
Below, I’ve listed various sources for you to consider when shopping for your home. They all have their unique traits. If you do your homework and have your budget in hand, the process will be much easier.
Never be afraid to ask questions of a seller or vendor. Worse case, Google your questions to get the best answer.
Check out Ebay‘s Home & Garden, Home Décor and Yard, Garden & Outdoor Living sections for ideas. Know your brands and what you’re looking for. Do your due diligence to understand what each vendor offers and the details each piece holds. If it needs to be refinished, factor that piece into your decision. Remember, buy what you love.
Etsy is filled with creative entrepreneurs who either make, upcycle or source their offerings. Click on Home and Living to find furniture and accessories for your home. Some vendors take existing furniture and upcycle it; other vendors build new pieces.
Craigslist provides “local classifieds” with items for sale, along with events such as garage and estate sales. Look up the city you’re interested in to start your search. I tend to select items for sale by owner to avoid scrolling past vendors with “new furniture”. I also only inquire about posts that include photos. If the seller doesn’t take time to post pictures, it’s not worth my time to hunt them down.
Letgo is a free app that allows the sellers to keep 100% of the sale. There are no shipping costs, because interactions are in-person. You can easily sell what you don’t need and find great deals nearby on what you do while searching photos in their database either on your desktop or your mobile device.
Offer Up is similar to letgo. It also allows you to find items locally and in surrounding areas. You can chat instantly with the seller, which makes the buying process efficient and you don’t have to giving away any personal information.
If you choose to sell, you simply post your item for sale with just a picture from your Smartphone. This is a free app to use; sellers keep 100% of sale; and there’s no shipping because interactions are in-person. As a buyer, you can also see reviews of “the sellers” which helps build confidence in your purchases.
6. EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE
EBTH is the Premier Estate Sale Marketplace which hosts over 400 auctions every month. You can sign up and get timely notifications, bids and more with the EBTH app. This site has some fabulous offerings but you’ll want to pay attention to where the sale is located. The downside to EBTH is when you find something you’d love to bid on and you are far from the city where the auction is located, the shipping can be extremely expensive on large items. I wanted to bid on some chests until I found out the shipping would be more than the cost of the furniture. Do your homework when it comes to shipping so you can make the right decision. To bid or not to bid…that is the question.
7. 1st DIBS
1st Dibs is a premier online luxury marketplace. The offerings on this site are high end and they attract a certain type of buyer. If these prices are out of your budget, 1st Dibs will offer you a great resource to see styles of furniture, accessories and beautiful art to help you pull together your dream room. Use it like Pinterest or Houzz to gather ideas.
8. FLEA MARKETS
Did you know that America has approximately 5000 flea markets, swap meets, open-air, farmers, antique and collectible markets and special events, with an estimate of over one million vendors and one hundred million annual shoppers?
It’s true! And boy do I love going to them! You just never know what they will have.
Some markets are large and have regular vendors in air-conditioned buildings, such as Canton Trade Days in Texas. To get the best deals, stick to the outdoor vendors whose displays might not be as fancy.
Also, search the web or your local newspaper for markets in your area.
Bring cash and be prepared to negotiate. The vendors expect you to offer a lower price, but first you must ask.
9. ESTATE SALES
Who doesn’t love a great estate sale? For me, estate sales allow me to let my Gladys Kravitz out to do what she does best… walk in confidently and snoop without judgment.
When you come across an estate sale, consider going to it a couple times if you like what they have. The first time you go, you can scope out the items and see what they are offering. If you choose to buy at the beginning of the sale, you’ll typically pay close to the asking price.
You can always ask if their prices are firm but they won’t typically go down until the last day/hours of the sale, where you can get items 50% off or more. The challenge with waiting until prices go down is that you run the risk of your treasure being purchased by someone else.
Estate sales are typically run by an estate sale company which works for the family. They take a commission off each sale and their ultimate goal is to make as much profit as they can. Some companies will allow checks and credit cards; but cash is always best.
To find and estate sale or auction near you click here. You can also learn about estate sales and how they work on this same link.
10. GARAGE SALES
Garage sales tend to be much more relaxed and are the least organized. It’s best to bring cash with you and always ask if their price is firm. Many times, the seller wants to purge their “junk” and is open to negotiations, especially if you “bundle” items together.
11. THRIFT STORES
I find myself frequently going to thrift store such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army and other local thrift stores. People donate to these stores when they want to clean out their stuff and have no desire to host their own garage sale. When you buy from these stores, you are helping the community. A prime example is Goodwill who always asks if I want to round up my purchase to the next dollar. The money raised goes to their job training program and I feel that’s a worthy cause.
I want to introduce you to my friend Kate Keesee of Salvage Dior… a woman who’s extremly talented and very thrifty! Her entire home is thrifted and if you don’t believe, connect with her on IG and see for yourself!
Check out what she shares about her kitchen. “When a 300 hundred dollar kitchen makeover makes your heart sing. Countless trips to @ocgoodwill till I got it just right.”
12. CONSIGNMENT STORES
Consignment stores are retail locations that consign furniture and accessories for a fee (paid by the seller). The split can be 50/50 or 40/60 depending on the store. The price on a piece of furniture is lowered the longer it sits on the floor.
Store owners are selective with what they bring in as they want the best quality and style possible to turn a profit. You will typically pay more in a consignment store, compared to a garage sale because the items have been hand selected by the store owner and it’s a “for profit” business.
Auctions are super fun to attend. The energy that flows in these can be contagious!
If you’re new to auctions, I’d recommend getting their early to look at all there is on the floor. Sit toward the back when the auction begins and watch the regulars who sit up front; you can learn a lot as a spectator. Prior to going to the auction, take time to educate yourself on how to bid and purchase an item.
Designers, store owners and dealers use auctions to find items for their projects and stores. As a buyer, you’ll typically pay a percentage on top of the winning bid price, which is a fee that goes to the auction house. When you sign up for the auction house email list, you’ll be notified of upcoming sales that you can preview in person or online. If you find items you’re interested in but you can’t make the auction, contact the auction house to set up a silent bid. They are happy to help you!
14. SALE SITES
Sale sites are popping up on Facebook like crazy. You can find some great deals within these “online marketplaces”. Some sellers will negotiate on price if you ask. Never be afraid to ask!
If buy from a seller, do take precautions when picking up the piece. Always take a friend with you if going to a home you don’t know, or meet in a public place. Take precautions always!
TRASH TO TREASURE
As you acquire your treasures, you can decide if they need a little TLC/updating or if they are fine “as is”. If you need help refinishing a piece, get recommendations. There are a lot of great people who’d love to help you transform a piece!
Over time, your home will take on a unique vibe and it’s one that will tell your story.
I love a “collected” home because it has so much personality.
Whether you buy new or decorate on a budget, enjoy the process! There’s nothing like the feeling when you score a great deal on something that you both want and need. Decorating becomes FUN! Watch out! Decorating can become a little addictive.
- What’s one piece that you collected second-hand? What did you love about it and did it require any refinishing?
Take a picture and share it with our Facebook page Stylish Home Ideas. I’d love to see it!
- What’s one piece you’d love to find but haven’t quite yet? Maybe we’ll know a direction to point you in.
Cheers to you and your home!