How to Shop for Vintage Home Finds Without Getting Intimidated
Natalie Joy in her estate-sale element.
“It’s easy to decorate your house in one fell swoop, but if you take the time to treasure hunt and slowly fill your space with meaningful, well-crafted items, you won’t regret it,” promises the Portland-based jeweler Natalie Joy, who abides by a slow-’n-steady, vintage-fueled approach instead. And she sure knows here stuff: This is what it takes to navigate the world of estate sales and thrift stores with a purpose, according to her.
LOOK FOR PIECES, NOT SETS
“When it comes to things like dining chairs and dishes, there’s no need to buy a matching set—they don’t have to be identical to make sense together. In my dining room, for example, I knew I wanted darker wooden chairs to match my black table. I collected them one at a time keeping a general theme in mind, and now they give the feeling of a set. I’ve also mixed and matched all of my handmade ceramic mugs, bowls, and vases. I stick to earthenware so they all complement each other and look good as a collection on display. Pro tip: Always check the bottom to see if there’s a stamp or signature from the artist, and you might start to see a pattern.”
BE A BASKET CASE
“Ceramic pots are beautiful, but buckets and baskets are an easy-to-find, inexpensive alternative for housing your plant collection. Baskets can also be used for a thousand other things, like storing towels, extra blankets, or magazines you aren’t ready to throw away yet. Basically, if it’s lying around without a home, it can be made cuter by putting it in a basket.”
PUT SOME UNUSUAL ART IN YOUR CART
“Need smaller framed art? Vintage magazines are often filled with interesting (and colorful!) images, and they’re always overlooked at things like garage sales. Plus, tiny frames are super cheap, and because it’s not original art, you can cut the image to fit the frame without feeling guilty. If you’re looking for something on a larger scale, vintage posters are also a great find and often come in standard sizes, so finding a frame isn’t too much of a hassle.”
REPURPOSE, REPURPOSE, REPURPOSE
“Found items can serve an unexpected purpose. Get creative! The shelf in my bathroom is actually a wooden level. I found it at a Coast Rehabilitation thrift store in Astoria, Washington, and now it’s my favorite part of the bathroom. Another creative idea? Turn old fishbowls (a common item at most secondhand stores) into a fresh terrarium.”