Interior Designers Swear By These Sources For Vintage Pieces

Keyword: Patina.

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Design by Stefani Stein. Photo: Jenna Peffley
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Vintage home decor stores are nothing new, but they’ve become a lifeline for those shaking up their homes throughout quarantine. As many poured much of their cooped-up energy into reorganizing every room, down to the junk drawers and crannies, the natural follow-up became redecorating, whether it was a small switch-up or full-on renovation. This world-wide attention to home design quickly led to sold-out merchandise and delayed production for many retailers, thus, sparking a renewed interest in vintage decor and furniture.

Rather than wait on a delayed shipment to arrive months down the road, the trend, instead, is sourcing vintage pieces already in existence. What’s more, these well-loved items bring so much character to a space, be it a vessel, coffee table, dresser, or lamp. And what better way to home in on unique vintage finds than shopping the spots interior designers buy from for their swoon-worthy projects? “Incorporating vintage pieces is a cornerstone to our designs. We believe in collecting furniture as one would art,” says Gabriela Gargano, a principal designer of the NYC-based design firm, Grisoro Studio. “Beautiful, well-made pieces can truly last many generations. Aesthetically, we love the heritage, depth, and patina that these furnishings add to space.”

Design by GRISORO Studio. Photo: Kirsten Francis

Vintage pieces are also great for creating dimension, adding warmth, and breaking up design tones to avoid an overly curated or matchy-matchy look. “I’m a big fan of incorporating vintage pieces into a kitchen space,” says LA-based interior designer Stefani Stein, who’s all about the mix. “Vintage lighting is always a great idea as well — just be sure to have it rewired, so it isn’t a fire hazard.” Wallpaper, handmade tile, colored cabinetry, rich wooden paneling, pendants, sconces, and cafe curtains are other elements Stein says play well with vintage pieces, all of which create depth and uniqueness in a space.

Vintage elements bring a sense of comfort to spaces, too — a mood many crave regularly, but even more so during a global pandemic. “I’m not too rigid about my approach,” LA-based designer Jake Arnold tells TZR of his approach to vintage sourcing. Among his go-tos: Curved couches and sectionals, mid-century accent chairs and dining tables, and textured upholstery. “The clients we work with generally want a comfortable, lived-in, unadorned home, and I like to source vintage pieces to provide some patina and character. Overall, I believe in buying what you like. Period.”

If you’re in the market for vintage home decor and furnishings, keep reading for five spots interior designers source from and shop the edit. Trust, many more treasures are to be found — it’s all about the hunt.

Vintage Home Decor Stores: 1stDibs

Design by GRISORO Studio. Photo: Kirsten Francis

1stDibs, of course,” Arnold says about one of his favorite vintage sources. The online retailer is beloved in the design world, with a vast assortment of rare finds and collectible antiques, all authenticated by the retailer.

“1stDibs is our go-to for vintage and antique furnishings,” says Kyle McVey, another principal designer at Grisoro Studio. “Their network of licensed global sellers is second to none and equally met by their excellent client service and buyer protection.”

Vintage Home Decor Stores: Chairish

Chairish is another online retailer with a vast assortment of furniture, decor, and lighting, with plenty being vintage. The site also lists pre-owned pieces at lower prices, as certain antiques and rare collectibles come with high-price tags. Stein says, “If you know what you’re looking for and what to get creative with, there are tons of great pieces on Chairish. The possibilities are endless.”

Vintage Home Decor Stores: LiveAuctioneers

If you’re the type to bid on your treasures, Gargano tells TZR, “LiveAuctioneers is fantastic for online auctions.” The site carries an assortment of antiques and luxury goods, from art to rugs and furniture. A pro tip from Gargano: “It tends to be more helpful when looking for a specific piece, as the search tools are limited.”

Vintage Home Decor Stores: Etsy

Design by GRISORO Studio. Photo: Kirsten Francis

Etsy is a mecca for handcrafted goods and similarly a treasure trove for vintage home decor. “Etsy is great for both vintage furnishings and accessories, but again, has more limited search tools, so requires a bit of a hunt,” says McVey. In agreement, Stein says the Etsy hunt will most certainly be on when shopping for vintage home pieces. However, the designer says the finds never fail but recommends having specific searches in mind.

Vintage Home Decor Stores: Local Shops & Flea Markets

Whether you’re on a tight budget or not, flea markets and independent stores are some of the best sources for vintage home decor and furnishings, with many deals to be found. “I love sourcing vintage and supporting local shops and dealers here in Los Angeles,” Arnold tells TZR. “My favorite spots are Gallerie Half, Nickey Kehoe, Sumner Shop, and Big Daddy’s Antiques.”

Stein also favors Nickey Kehoe, whose vintage pieces are available on 1stDibs. If you don’t have to have vintage but covet the aesthetic at a more affordable price, the designer recommends shopping Anthropologie’s home section.

Pillow designer Lauren Meichtry uses vintage textiles for many of her designs — highlighting KUFRI, Virginia Kraft, and Greige Textiles among her favorite vendors for materials — and carries vintage artwork in her shop, Elsie Home. “Vintage pieces are true conversation pieces, and what better way to bring your home to life than with a piece of history?” says Meichtry.

“In an industry heavily influenced by social media, where links to items are shared constantly — are our homes all going to look the same? — using vintage pieces provides an opportunity to stand out among the rest, ensuring originality,” Meichtry says. “For that reason, I make an effort to use vintage textiles for my pillows when possible. I love sourcing these vintage finds from flea markets, in particular. The secret is to connect with the seller at the flea market and begin a relationship where they show you items they know you like and hold on to them before they put them on display for everyone else walking by.”

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