Buying Vintage: 6 things you always should consider buying used

Buying Vintage: 6 things you always should consider buying used

“Everything old is new again” goes the adage.  When you search Instagram and Pinterest, you see countless examples of big box retailers recreating vintage pieces. In many cases they are not as interesting or as high quality as the original. It’s almost impossible to recreate the personality and patina that comes with age. Plus, a great vintage piece will usually hold its value, whereas the value of a new replica declines the moment it leaves the store.

These days, finding great vintage home decor is as easy as it’s ever been. I love a great estate sale and struggle to pass one by, but in the past few years most of my vintage finds have been on-line.  I love local community groups like those on Facebook and Craig’s List, but on line auction sites are a game changer. Sites Everything but the House on line auction are such a fun resource.  For many of these sites, you can even search within your local area, so you can drive to pick up items and avoid paying shipping charges.  

Here are some of my recommendations for items well worth seeking out the original.


Photo credit to mi casa revista

New chandeliers really can’t compare with their vintage counterpart. Especially with crystal, the new does not have the heft and luster of the old.  Plus, in most cases, older pieces are a great value in comparison.  If you find a chandelier where the wiring looks suspicious, it’s worth a trip to a lighting store to be rewired.  Even with that additional cost, I’m my experience, it’s still been a great value. 

chandelier 2
For sale on Ebay.

A beautiful chandelier is like a piece of statement jewelry for your home.  Even if crystal is not your style, there are some fabulous vintage light fixtures out there that can be a unique centerpiece in your home.


Loved the vintage rug in this bedroom by Sarah Sherman.

A vintage rug can set the stage for the entire room.  With a bit of patience, it’s not that hard to find.  In most cases, new rugs are not made with as high quality wool or as soft a texture as older rugs. Plus, many new rugs are machine made.  They both shed and wear quickly. 

rugs 2
Photo credit Katie Hodges Design.

I find even the worn spots of vintage rugs very charming.  I’ve found large antique hand-knotted oriental rugs in wonderful condition for a fraction of what a rug that size would cost new, at say, Pottery Barn.  Also, it’s entirely possible that an antique rug could appreciate over time, whereas modern rugs have practically no resale value.


SF Girl is a blog and shop where she sells found pieces, particularly art.

Invest in original art and old portraits.   Estate sales both on-line and local are a great way to find these treasures which are infinitely more interesting than big box store reproductions or trendy quotes on canvas.

art 2
Photo credit from Lulu & Georgia

Sometimes when I see a piece at an estate sale, especially a sale that is very cluttered, I have to stand back and try to think of the piece outside of that setting. Maybe it needs a different frame or just refinishing the current one. Maybe it just needs to be center stage with a white wall behind.


Mid Century Absinthe Green Cocktail Shaker on Etsy

You can curate a very glamorous bar by scouring estate sales.  Vintage cocktail glasses and barware are so much more fun and unique than most anything new and generally at a fraction of the cost.

bar 2
Photos from Architectural Digest

Cocktails served in fabulous glasses taste better — I promise – try it and see.



trays 3
Photo credit Roses & Rust.

I love trays to corral and unify a space. I have a tray by my night stand, on the coffee table, in our bathroom by the sink and a tea station on a tray in our bar.  Trays are organizational superstars and a great place to add a unique touch. 


Moroccan Inlay Tray – see one similar for sale on Everything But the House

I look for a tray that is sturdy and waterproof like this brass and copper Moroccan tray.  I got mine for $20, and you could not get a metal tray that size at Wal-Mart for that price.


This beauty was found on Craig’s List.

If it’s taken care of, leather can age beautifully. If you are in the market for a Chesterfield sofa or leather club chair, these classics are best bought vintage. Some distress to the leather only adds character.  Of course you don’t want heavy cracking or peeling, but a little love with a product like Leather Honey can bring many pieces back to life.  A little tear?  Depending where it is, there are easy answers to that too. Here is a recipe for leather glue with natural ingredients you likely have on hand.    

This chair was so dried out when I picked it up at an estate sale for $75 (including it’s ottoman). Leather Honey was like a miracle for it.

Buying vintage makes a home feel more relaxed and comfortable too. People are not worried about messing things up.  With some scratches and wear, well it’s just broken in for you.  Like glorified recycling, it feels good too.  Happy hunting!  


Faux Friends: My obsession with faux houseplants that won’t let you down.

Faux Friends: My obsession with faux houseplants that won’t let you down.

I adore plants and feel they add life to every space – the bigger the better!  I rarely stage  houses that I don’t think need a plant or more plants.  But I have also gone through stages in my life where I just cannot have one more thing that solely relies on me for its sustenance. Thus my ongoing quest for the perfect faux plants. Plants that look so real your houseguests will offer to water them. Interested? I have a few tricks to share with my fellow travelers. 

Image credit Studio McGee

Go for naturally ‘plastic-y’ looking varieties.

Pick plants that, when they are real, have leaves that already look a bit like they could be plastic.  Good examples are: succulents, banana trees, mother-in-law tongue, aloe, fiddle leaf figs, air plants, lotus leafs, philodendrons, maguey stems, monster leaves and certain types of ferns. Since real ones already can look fake, it makes the fake ones look real. 

When I picked this up from my clients house yesterday it was clear someone had watered it.

Above, I mixed a faux lace fern with a faux asparagus fern.  I got these in Dallas at Nicolson Hardy on Lover’s Lane.  Their designer worked with me for free, selecting the perfect planter and helped me styling it.  Pro tip – ask for help. 

Succulents are an ideal plant to go faux. Image credit from Defined Design.

Styling is huge.

When you are trying to emulate a real plant, perfection & symmetry are not what you are going for.  Real plants lean toward the light and are not equally full so style them like they were real. I usually re-pot them in something less generic or at least pop them into a floppy basket.  Make sure the pot size matches the proportions of a real plant’s root ball.   I often add some dirt, stones, or at least moss on top of the faux dirt.

My neighbor created this succulent arrangement for her covered porch – faux perfection.

Similarly, putting a plant in a place where it could never ever live is a give away.  If it’s a dark bathroom with no windows, pick a different decorating prop.

There are lots of places to find a faux staghorn fern. I got mine at Etsy from Bohemian Goods.

To look live, add some dead.

Real plants have imperfect and dead leaves.  One trick I used for the staghorn fern above is to gather bits of dead leaves and moss and tuck that around the base of the plant. I do that in some form with most all my faux plants.

The faux staghorn fern was the perfect addition to my gallery wall. 

I put my staghorn together with an oval precut board that I stained and hung with a strip of leather. Here are step by step instructions from Gardenista.  

fiddle leaf
Image credit Studio McGee

The ever popular fiddle leaf tree also can look very realistic in plastic.  I gave this purchase lots of thought because a 6 foot faux fiddle leave will set you back.  For me this is a business expense since I can put this in practical every house I’m staging to sell.  And most rooms can benefit from a big beautiful bit of green. A faux tree won’t mind me dragging it around, house to house or room to room in a photoshoot. This extensive Apartment Therapy article helped me make my selection.

Central Market grocery store has an amazing selection of preserved flowers in with the fresh and their staff is amazing at advising on your arrangement, even if you bring in your own vase.

Preserved Real Plants

I also use preserved real plants and flowers. One of my favorite tricks to gather rice flowers, limonium, billy balls, or golden yarrow in low dense arrangements. I like these arrangements in solid color containers so you don’t see the stems or the fact they need no water.

I made these for my dining room in January & they still look fresh in May.  All the flowers are from the 3 for $12 bins at Central Market. 

These are more fragile than plastic, but if you take care of them they can last a long time. 

I love Billy Balls & monochromatic arrangements are so chic. Photo credit here.

I also love to mix faux silk flowers with the real preserved flowers like I did here for staging a client’s bedside tables.



That said, I don’t recommend you fill your whole house with fake plants. Defiantly steer clear of bad fakes (run from faux rain drops).  Instead, layer in some low maintenance, easy care real plants punctuated by a few strategically placed & styled faux friends.

Do you have any faux friends to share? I’d really love an introduction. Please comment below!


Feature image credits here from Elise Larson’s fab blog “A Beautiful Mess.” 

Welcome to Dallas, Caitlin Wilson!

Welcome to Dallas, Caitlin Wilson!

Dallas friends, have you heard? Caitlin Wilson Design chose Knox/Henderson here in Dallas to place their second showroom.  Her warm, inviting, family-friendly style will fit right in. Check it out for yourself – I think her pieces have the perfect blend of whimsy and timelessness.

Caitlin Wilson’s Dallas Design Showroom opened this fall at 2923 N. Henderson Ave Dallas.

Do you know about Caitlin Wilson Design?  They are an on-line decorating phenomena with a fabulous line of rugs, textiles, wallpaper, upholstery, lighting and more. But they also offer interior design services at an hourly or by project basis.


Caitlin Wilson Design Services include:

  • Client on-site consultation (if you live in Dallas or San Francisco)
  • Creation of design plan
  • Architectural detail, millwork, materials, paint & finish selections
  • Space planning & furniture layout
  • Selection of furniture, lighting, rugs, fabrics, wallpaper, artwork & accessories
  • Custom made furniture, window treatments, pillows, bedding, & more
  • Installation, accessorizing, & styling

You’ve probably seen Caitlin Wilson’s designs before. She has been featured by all the fun decorating magazines – Domino, House Beautiful, Domain, Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens.

This weekend's CW instagram pic inspired me to rethink mudroom.
This weekend’s CW Instagram pic was my mudroom inspiration.

I’m giving their design services a go with our mudroom which could use some attention.  It’s where we frequently foster dogs and puppies for Operation Kindness.  Needless to say, it needs to be scrubbable and durable.  The design team was up for the challenge!

Her joint venture with Pratt & Lambert was featured in last month’s Traditional Home Magazine.

If you are not following Caitlin on Instagram already you should start now – especially if you live in Dallas.  You will be notified of all the fun local events they are hosting.  I stopped in yesterday for their ‘Galentine Party’ and left with a dear watercolor greeting card personalized for free by an on-site calligrapher.

caitlin bathroom
I love how she uses pattern through tile and wallpaper in this modern classic bathroom.

In addition to having a fabulous eye for all things hearth and home, Caitlin and her family are so dear and quite genuine.  This summer I got to know them better when they  moved in next door.  It was a busy summer – moving to a new state, opening a new store, doing extensive renovation to their new home. Did I mention Caitlin was very pregnant with their fourth child? She handled it all with grace and a smile.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next and am thankful we get to have a first row seat to Caitlin Wilson Design here in Dallas.


Do stop by their showroom at 2923 N. Henderson to see for yourself — you’re welcome!