There’s nothing like stumbling upon a great vintage find, bringing it home, and knowing that you’re adding to a wonderfully mysterious story. Sounds weird when talking about a rattan stool or a worn-in sofa, but when buying vintage, you’re actually continuing the layered journey of a thing that has touched another—or many other—lives before you. If that’s not intriguing enough, vintage furniture is usually more affordable than brand new pieces, and, hello 2019, it’s way more environmentally friendly. We don’t know about you, but we love a good story and a great piece of furniture to match, so we asked vintage aficionado and The Zoe Report’s senior fashion editor, Aemilia Madden, to give us her best tips and tricks for scoring the best decor. After all, she did essentially furnish her entire Lower East Side alcove-studio apartment with unique finds from her favorite vintage stores. Check out her go-to list of vintage furniture stores, along with her must-know tips and tricks, below!
1. OMG, please measure your space
Always. Start. Here. If you’re feeling especially snazzy, Aemilia suggests utilizing a computer program like Floor Planner that can help sort different furniture arrangement options.
2. Follow your fave vintage shops on Instagram
This is a great—not to mention beyond easy—way to stay connected and see what your favorite stores are up to and to even buy pieces straight from their feed.
3. Schedule in shopping time
I can hear my budget app yelling at me from here. Since we’re all Moira Rose and are just “positively bedeviled with meetings, et cetera,” Aemilia recommends actually penciling in shopping time so you can focus on the hunt. You don’t have to tell me twice.
4. Consistency is key
When decorating a space, it’s vital to have a solid grasp on what vibe you’re going for. With so much stuff out there it’s easy to forget what we really wanted in the first place. “It’s good to have a few key items in mind and shop knowing that 90 percent of the time you won’t find what you’re looking for, but if you keep searching, eventually it will pop up,” says Aemilia .
5. Know your price—well, kind of
For most of us, bargaining is Scary with a capital S. Aemilia suggests walking into these situations confidently and with a maximum price in mind that you’re willing to spend. But she quickly warns, “Be nice—you don’t want to offend the seller with anything too low.”
6. Chase the story
Says Aemilia: “This sounds a little cliche, so forgive me, but pieces have to speak to me in some way. I was just in Turkey and was rug shopping and just couldn’t really find anything that I liked. As I was walking out the door of a shop, I saw this old kilim that had the name of the woman who made it and the year it was created (1954) woven into it. I instantly knew it was the one, and it’s now sitting on my bedroom floor.” She continues, “Each piece I buy has a story behind it, which makes all of them different and special to me.”
7. Beware of impulse buying
Especially when it comes to larger pieces. If you’re in a year-to-year lease agreement (i.e., you move around a lot), Aemilia notes that, “It’s been difficult moving into new apartments because [bigger pieces] don’t fit in every space and can be tricky to arrange.”
8. Go with your gut
“If your home is full of pieces that make you happy, you’ll want to hang out there and enjoy the space,” Aemilia says. Sounds simple enough, but remember that it’s easy to get stuck in a trend-filled vortex. Odds are, if it’s not love at first sight, it’s probs not for you.