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How to Shop for Vintage Home Furnishings

Some good advice from the experts at Chairish and Kate Spade on finding unique vintage pieces.

Erica Riveraby Erica Rivera

Vintage isn’t an easy look to pull off. While vintage pieces can add color, quirkiness and a cool retro vibe to most living spaces, it’s a thin line between stylish and hokey. Deborah Lloyd, president and chief creative officer of the Kate Spade New York home décor collection, is making the chore of shopping for vintage items easier with a curated sale on Chairish, an online marketplace for furniture, décor and art. Before you embark on your buying spree from over 100 of the hand-picked treasures, check out this advice from Lloyd and Chairish co-founder Anna Brockway on shopping for vintage home furnishings.

Crave: What differentiates “vintage” furnishings from used, old, or junk furnishings?

Deborah Lloyd: Well, I always say, one woman’s trash is another’s treasure.

When homeowners go to a vintage sale, should they go with a list of things they need or is the point to discover things they didn’t know they wanted?

DL: For me, it is about discovery and inspiration.

How much vintage furniture or decor is too much in one room? Is there a ratio or a balance homeowners should aim for?

DL: You have to find the right balance for you.  I love mixing new, contemporary pieces with vintage flea market finds and I try to have a conversation piece in every room.

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In the case of your curated sale with Chairish, what style of decor will the items you’ve selected mesh well with?

DL: It is really a mix of what I love and my personality, from English china tea sets to mid-century modern furniture to Moroccan-inspired décor.  Morocco is one of the most inspirational places I have ever visited. The dusky desert landscapes, the pattern play of candlelit lanterns, rose petals, the sensory overload of the souks and the oasis of calm in the Majorelle Gardens.

How to Shop for Vintage Home Furnishings

How do you know the real value of a piece? What are the best resources to research?

Anna Brockway: It’s a question we were asked so often that it drove us to create the Chairish Pink Book, the first and only go-to resource for vintage furniture and décor. It’s an extensive guide that lets buyers and sellers see what comparable, previously sold items were purchased for. This takes the guesswork out of understanding value and answers, once and for all, the age old question: Am I getting a fair price?

What is one piece of furniture that is a must-have vintage item?

DL: For me, it is what I call my Cookie Monster sofa with this long, turquoise, fluffy fur. It’s my Flexsteel Thunderbird couch–an original 1960s piece–that stands smack-dab in the middle of my living room in my country house in upstate New York. It was my husband Simon who actually picked out the sofa–I would’ve thought it was far too crazy-flashy for me–but in the size and feeling of that room it looks spectacular, like an exclamation point.

Conversely, what is one item of furniture that homeowners should never purchase vintage?

DL: Every piece has a story and is richer than something you buy new. But I would say a mattress!

Here’s a preview of the items you can find (until they’re snatched up!) at Lloyd’s curated Chairish sale:
All photos provided by Kate Spade New York and Chairish.