6 Decor Trends That Are Even Better When Sourced Secondhand
Plus, buying tips from three resale experts.
As with clothing and accessories, the interiors resale space is a treasure trove of discovery. We know trends are cyclical, and everything old becomes new again at one point or another. But we also know newness doesn’t have to be literal. Instead, a freshly acquired piece of furniture or a decor accent—which could be something that’s been in existence for years, perhaps decades—can just as easily satiate that something-new craving. Even better, it often comes with a more affordable price tag (save for esteemed brands and fine art) while being a more sustainable way to consume. Plus, in most cases, you can scout better-made items if they come from decades past—the saying “They don’t make things like they used to” exists for a reason.
Whether you’re routinely on the hunt for vintage finds and antiques, in the throes of pandemic-related redecorating, or steadfastly a secondhand shopper, keep reading to discover six decor drifts trending in the resale space right now, per three interiors experts at 1stdibs, Chairish, and The RealReal. If you’re not a regular resale shopper, fret not. We tapped the pros for their shopping tips, from budgeting and space planning to repairs and refurbishing.
Trend: Vintage Furniture
According to statistics provided by The RealReal, vintage for the home is in demand, with tables and seating up 64 percent and 21 percent year over year, respectively.
Anthony Barzilay Freund, the editorial director and director of fine art at 1stDibs, attributes the recent turn toward vintage in part to the world’s current quarantine reality. “As we continue to be anchored to our homes, we’re compelled more than ever to surround ourselves with objects that have endured, that have an interesting backstory, that are highly personal, and that feel at once familiar and fresh to the eye. Vintage furniture and decorative objects hit all those notes.”
More than of-the-moment, Barzilay Freund says the time-tested quality of vintage pieces connotes value and durability, two qualities that are attractive to people tired of what he considers disposable design: cheaply made or soon-to-be discarded contemporary furniture. Creations (most specifically, sofas and chairs) by the Paris-based interior design firm and furniture maker Maison Jansen are prime examples, seeing a 156 percent spike in gross merchandise volume (GMV) on 1stDibs in the last year.
Another reason for the vintage furniture surge, according to Barzilay Freund, is the immediacy it provides in contrast to pandemic-related manufacturing and delivery delays. “I’ve purchased several chairs on the site in the last few months that I’ve had shipped, reupholstered, and delivered to my house faster and less expensively than the few backordered pieces I’ve bought from well-known national brands.”
The 1stDibs expert points out the “green” benefits of shopping vintage furniture, too. “You’re not only giving new life to great or underappreciated examples of historic design (many of which feel as fresh and stylish as if they’d been designed today), you’re saving them from [going to the] landfill,” he tells Coveteur.
Trend: Turned-Up Tabletop Decor
At-home dining has become more significant than ever, and as such, tabletop decor is proving ultra-popular in the resale market at present. The RealReal reports an increased demand for dinnerware, flatware, and stemware, while Anna Brockway, the president and co-founder of Chairish, notes an interest in elegant accents. “We’re seeing an uptick in sales in bold table linens, beautiful china, eclectic tureens, tabletop topiaries, unique colorful glassware, and statement pieces.”
Barzilay Freund notes a surge in interest in antique and vintage tea sets at 1stDibs, with GMV up 134 percent year over year. “People are still not frequenting restaurants, and they are cooking a great deal and want those home meals to feel special,” he explains. “Setting a beautiful table—that not only has visual interest but feels celebratory—has become a priority, even if it’s just for yourself and your family.” Similarly, sterling silver serveware has grown in popularity for 1stDibs, with a 38 percent year-over-year increase.
Trend: Everything Home Office
Like with at-home dining, work-from-home life has spurred an interest in office accouterment, according to Brockway. “Whether it’s campaign or hand-painted secretary desks, mid-century modern office chairs, or desk accessories and even chic wastebaskets, design lovers are looking for great ways to up their work-at-home game with fabulous vintage finds.”
Trend: Luxe Lighting
As most design buffs know, lighting can transform a space, and according to Barzilay Freund, it’s one of the buzziest categories on 1stDibs. “Sales continue to be robust there,” he tells Coveteur. Among the increasingly popular offerings are chandeliers and pendants by J.T. Kalmar—a famed Austrian workshop known for its quality craftsmanship and innovative design since the first decades of the 20th century, with a GMV increase of 43 percent year over year.
Trend: All the Art
Though art can be a steep investment and feel overwhelming to navigate, it’s an interior design aspect that can be more easily changed. The resale market is a great place for both sourcing deals and finding unique or rare pieces. “Adding art to refresh a room is far easier than swapping out big furniture pieces,” Brockway says. “With art, people are less afraid to mix styles, periods, and genres.”
The RealReal also reports a demand for art and decor pieces on the secondary market, sharing that sales have strengthened specifically for sculpture, mixed media, and photographs compared to last year.
Mixed Media Abstract Collage, 1989$1,200Buy
Vintage Sculptural Vessels Vases, Set of 2
The Hand of Miles Davis, New York, 1986
Pottery Bud Vase
Reaching, Mixed Media Collage with Fabric, 1983$1,850Buy
Wood Butcher Block Stool$495Buy
Trend: Upholstered Seating
It’s likely you’ve not spent quite as much time on your couch or in a beloved armchair as you have in 2020. For a spruced-up seating look, Brockway says upholstery is widely trending. “From English roll-arm sofas to modular seating, benches, and accent chairs, a never-out-of-style trend is patterned and textured upholstery,” she tells Coveteur. “Chairish shoppers especially love bold upholstery choices like mohair, animal prints, and kilim.”
Shopping Tip: Set a Budget and Do Your Research
Secondhand shopping is great for saving a few bucks, but it can be costly if you often give in to impulse or famous labels. “The one thing I always recommend is to buy items in the best possible condition that fits within your price range,” Nick Dinerstein, a home and art authentication expert at The RealReal, suggests. He says a common mistake people make when shopping for decor secondhand is buying something for the name brand or because it’s by a well-known artist. The result is often more money spent than intended or going beyond budget constraints. “It’s very easy to get caught up in the moment, especially at an auction! When it comes to the condition of an item, it can greatly affect the value it holds.”
Brockway echoes this sentiment and recommends research tools, like The Chairish Pink Book, to ensure smart spending. “In the vintage world, there’s a lot of guesswork around what an item is worth,” she explains. “The Pink Book shares real-time selling prices for all our items, educating buyers and sellers on accurate pricing.”
Shopping Tip: Make a Decor Plan
We’ve all bought a fun top, festive dress, or pair of shoes without an intended purpose but because we simply loved it. Though you may have found or created an occasion to wear said item, the same doesn’t always apply to decor. To circumvent such a conundrum, Dinerstein says to plan ahead of a secondhand shopping trip. “Since the condition is critical to home items, be sure you have an idea of where you plan to put it or how it is being stored.” The RealReal expert advises asking yourself these types of questions before making a purchase:
- For tableware, do you have a place to put all these dishes?
- For sterling silver, do you have anti-tarnish bags to store the items?
- For art and wall decor, is it ready to hang? Will it be hung in direct sunlight and require UV-resistant plexiglass?
- For designer furniture, is this piece going to be accessible to any pets or children?
Another big obstacle when buying decor, and specifically, secondhand pieces that don’t always include a return policy, is the anxiety around whether or not something will fit and how it will look in your home. For this, Brockway recommends a space-planning tool like Chairish’s View in Your Space app. “The slick augmented-reality technology allows you to virtually see our items in your space before you buy.”
Shopping Tip: Consider Repairs & Refurbishing
Another parallel between secondhand decor and fashion? Repairs. A dress or pair of pants is easy to alter, but a couch or armoire could require significant restoration, which, in turn, affects the item’s value. “When purchasing furniture, look to make sure all of the parts are original, since secondhand items can often be refinished or refurbished, taking away from that ‘original’ look and also potentially impacting resale value,” Dinerstein advises.
Shopping Tip: Buy from a Reputable Source
Depending on your style, authenticity is a huge factor. Yes, you can shop for items that aesthetically suit your space without concern for resale value. But if you’re investing in items with higher price tags, you want to be sure you’re buying from a reputable source. “As with many industries, there are many counterfeits and unscrupulous dealers out there,” Dinerstein warns. “Be sure to do as much research as possible and look at reviews to ensure you’re buying from a reputable retailer who is sourcing authentic products.”
You’ll also want to consider the return policy. “Chairish offers a 48-hour return policy, meaning that if the item arrives and is different than represented, you can send it back for a full refund,” Brockway says. In-person pickup—which Chairish offers—is a great way to legitimize a potential purchase, too. “This allows you to check out the item before you take it home, as well as save on shipping costs,” Brockway adds. “These types of assurances help to create trust and confidence when shopping online.”
Photos: Laurey Glenn/Courtesy of Chairish
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