Finding Your Second-hand Style
By Rebecca McAloon
For years I have been treasure hunting for my clients, finding and buying great second-hand pieces to add dynamic elements to my design projects. But there are so many great treasures to be had out there, and by keeping a few simple questions in mind, you too can find fantastic second-hand pieces to give your space unique and amazing style.
1. "Why buy or find second-hand?"
Well as the saying goes, one person's 'unused items' is another person's treasure! And just because someone decides to get rid of something does not mean it's worn out or junk. Often just the opposite is true. People are cleaning out, out growing, changing their style, or getting rid of items they didn't need and therefore never-used. It's a great opportunity to find good bargains, and also lower your impact...reduce, re-use, recycle!
2. "Where do I shop for fantastic second-hand finds?"
Oh, the list goes on and on, but here are some of my favorites:
Thrift stores, consignment shops, charitable donation centers, yard sales, eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, antique stores and expos, and Etsy.
3. "What should I look for and keep in mind while shopping second-hand?"
-Take a GOOD look for any damage such as chips, scratches, and broken pieces. And if the item is on-line be sure check the photos thoroughly, and ask for more photos if need be.
-The size, scale and/or style matters, and needs to be right for you. A bargain is a bargain, but only if it works.
-Decide if the price is truly a good price. This can be determined by parameters such as; how much wear the piece has, what it costs new, whether it's available new or is one-of-a-kind, how much you really want it, and if it needs updating or repairs how much will that cost you.
4. "How do you mix second-hand items with new pieces or things you already have?"
The answer is simple, mix slowly! These should not be impulse purchases, so only buy it if you really love it. That will speak to it being true to your aesthetic. If you're wanting something specific (like a mid-century chair or vintage dining room chandelier) take your time sourcing until you find just what you're looking for, don't settle. And if you're just out shopping and find some great 'finds', really think about how they will fit in your life and/or space. A few treasures can go a long way. If you over do it, things will feel cluttered and you won't see the true beauty of your found treasure!
5. "Is there an easy way to pass on some of the things I don't need anymore...and maybe get a few new pieces in return?"
Yes! Get a few friends together and have a Swap Party. Invite a small group of friends to 'swap' over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. You might love that lamp your friend is getting rid of and she might be giddy over those fun candlesticks you never use, it's perfect! The only rule I suggest is that you keep it specific so that the swaps are consistent, such as "home accessories", "clothing", "small furniture items", "shoes and handbags"...
Adding some second-hand style to your life can be fun, easy and cost-effective. Just keep in mind what you truly like or what you need. Use these questions to help guide whether something is right for you. And remember whether found by searching, casually shopping, being given, or by swapping, there are amazing, stylish second-hand treasures out there just waiting to be found (by you)!