by Sarah Lyon
Colore 10" Triangle; Design: Plaid Fox Studio; Photography: Ema Peter Photography
Are you familiar with the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi? If you haven’t heard of this concept before, it’s all about embracing “perfect imperfections.” When it comes to designing a home, this means creating a space that is aesthetically pleasing yet not necessarily filled with items that are fresh and brand new, given that there can be so much beauty in the old and well-loved.
Though the concept of finding a diamond in the rough while shopping at an antique or thrift store may be daunting to some, I’m here to help you master the art of sourcing eye-catching pieces online that will transform your space.
As much as I enjoy visiting second hand stores in person, it’s sometimes easier to take to the internet in search of pre-loved goodies. Living in a major city, I find that sometimes there isn’t a ton of great inventory left at the thrift stores I frequent in person anyway, which is why I like to browse sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craiglsist, eBay, and Etsy as frequently as possible. Because listings are always being added—and sold—you
will want to keep an eye out for pieces that are on your wishlist and stay on top of messages with sellers. After all, the true gems tend to move quickly!
Go into a search with a specific list of keywords in mind, whether they pertain to a particular material or just a general style—rattan, cane, midcentury modern, grand-millennial are all great starters depending on your preferences, for example. Searching by keyword will also help you weed out all of the listings that don’t apply to you—there will be many, trust me. Just like the thrift stores you’ll visit in real life, there is always a hodgepodge of items to be found. Given that time is of the essence (or else you may lose out on that fabulous find!), you will want to streamline your searches by typing in the phrases that appeal to you the most.
Staying true to the concept of wabi sabi, don’t be afraid to pick up a piece that has seen slightly better days or has a patina. Vintage pieces tell powerful stories and are thus amazing additions to any home—you don’t want every furniture item in your space to be shiny and brand new, after all, go ahead and embrace finds that have some personality. One of my favorite secondhand finds is a wooden dresser that is definitely well-loved but adds plenty of charm and charisma to my living room—and I always receive compliments on the piece.
But in general, you’ll most likely want to pass up on the pieces from big box stores that are being resold unless you’ve been on the hunt for a particular sold out item for months or are going to score something at a major discount. Rather, the beauty of secondhand shopping is being able to find items that no one else you know has in their home and picking up unique treasures.
Courtesy of Sarah Lyon; Photography by: Allie Provost
Now comes the fun part—styling your new piece and incorporating it into your home. Generally speaking, a bonus of incorporating secondhand pieces is that there’s less worry involved. These items are likely not investment buys, so nothing is too precious, and you can simply relax and enjoy what’s around you without stressing about actually using your furniture and decor. If something really doesn’t work, you can always resell it. However, most of us want to make our new pieces work right off the bat, and the key here is to get creative. Perhaps the piece you purchased was listed as a console table, but now that it’s in your home, you realize it would actually make for an excellent bar cart. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Pinterest and Instagram are your best friends should you feel stumped and need styling inspiration. Simply typing in “desk as bar cart” is sure to yield tons of useful results.
You’re now ready to embrace the art of wabi sabi while adding vintage flair to your space. You’ll find that once you begin sourcing pieces secondhand, you won’t be able to stop—your eye will continue to get better and better trained at identifying finds that speak to you and will help make your house a home.
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