When it comes to practicality, it’s tough to beat IKEA—but no one wants a home that looks exactly like an IKEA showroom! The trick? Pair up those standard BILLY bookcases with a few pieces of home décor and furniture that have a unique flair. Antique, DIY, designer, artisan… whatever your preference, a few well-placed pieces can go a long way.
But just how do you go about finding those extra-special pieces? A lot of it boils down to luck—you just happen to be passing by a garage sale selling a funky blue-velvet armchair that would fit perfectly in the living room you’re designing. There’s nothing wrong with giving luck a helping hand, though! Start checking out these 6 places and you’re sure to pick up some unique home décor and furniture.
1. Second-hand stores and garage sales
One man’s junk really is another man’s treasure. Many people associate second-hand stores and garage sales with kitschy décor that’s 10 years out of date and furniture that’s falling apart. Depending on the store or the sale, that might be true for the most part—but you never know what might turn up.Even a table or chest of drawers that’s seen better days could be just the thing you need to kick-start a fabulous DIY project. And hey, it’s no big deal if it doesn’t work out—you’re probably not out more than $50.
2. Antique stores
What’s the difference between a second-hand store and an antique store? A couple of decades! If you’re shopping for antiques, you’re more likely to find character pieces that have been taken care of and preserved well. Depending on the store, you could be looking at stylish retro pieces from the 50s or classic turn-of-the-century pieces. Another thing you’ll be looking at? Usually a higher price point.
Be warned, though—some “antique” stores are really just second-hand stores in disguise. As we’ve said above, a second-hand store might be just the place to find the piece your room has been missing—but you don’t want to end up paying three figures for an “antique” that came from the Value Village just down the road.
3. Local artisans
If your clients are interested in acquiring some décor or furniture that’s beautiful, unique, and socially responsible, local artisans are the way to go. Successful local artisans may own brick-and-mortar stores where you and your clients can browse their latest creations and acquisitions. Other artisans may be based online, or they may appear at temporary setups like craft fairs or art shows.
Still can’t find a piece that’s the right fit? You can also ask a local artisan if they’re open to taking commissions. Your client might be interested in adding a special touch onto an existing piece, or they might want something totally custom.
Unfortunately, not every city or town will have a thriving local goods scene. Your clients may not have many local options, or they may just not be able to find what they want.
That’s where Etsy comes in. This online market allows independent vendors and artisans to sell their own hand-made goods, including everything from home décor to car parts to poetry. “Favorite” shops to keep up-to-date on their newest products, or browse through categories to help your clients find exactly what they need. Many artists and artisans on Etsy are also willing to accept commissions for custom pieces.
5. World markets
If your clients want to add a few international touches to their home but don’t have the time (or desire) to travel, they don’t have to lose hope! There’s a whole range of websites that connect shoppers with the products of artisans from all over the world. Check out:
6. Retro Planet
Are your clients looking to add a few offbeat retro touches to their home? If they can dream it, Retro Planet probably has it. Browse by product, theme, room, color, decade and more to help your clients pick the perfect accent piece (or pieces—why stop at one?) for their home. From wall décor (think classic metal signs and posters) to a home décor section simply labeled “funky stuff”, Retro Planet is sure to satisfy your clients’ quirky vintage needs.