It’s no surprise that designers turn to big box stores, like Anthropologie and West Elm, and discount décor websites like Wayfair to find inexpensive pieces to offset all that custom furniture they’re always using. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, designers have very loose interpretations on what’s affordable, especially when you’re comparing, say, a Jean-Michel Frank chair and one made in a warehouse in Vietnam. The truth is that affordable is a relative term: No one could argue that a $2,000 sofa isn’t a steal compared to its onetime $6,000 price tag, especially when it’s a pedigreed piece that you’ll keep with you for a lifetime.
Elizabeth Pyne of McMillen Inc. agrees. “Shopping at Décor NY is so fun because I feel confident that the price I am paying is the right one,” she says, recounting a recent discovery—an Edward Wormley console table with original label. “Before showing it to our client, I called a friend of mine who’s a dealer for his opinion on the piece and its price. He told me that two years ago this same console table sold for three times what Décor NY was asking. It was a real coup for us and for our client.”
When you look at it that way, a whole new world of design possibilities opens up. Here, five designers their secret sources for one-of-a-kind furnishings on the (actual and sometimes relative) cheap.
“I’m big into the local auction circuit. There’s a website called LiveAuctioneers that aggregates sales by object or distance from you, and it’s amazing. I’m an auction freak—I’m always on the hunt for something great.”
“Whenever my husband Ken and I are traveling back to Wisconsin to visit family, he HAS to stop at Legacies Antiques in Fox Point to see what’s new. He usually drags not only me but my mom and sister with him. We call him our antiques lucky charm because he always susses out the best stuff.”
“Chairish is a great option for finding gently used high-end furniture at discounted prices. Another go-to is Artless, though we also often use CB2, West Elm, Anthropologie, and others for select pieces.”
Chloe Redmond Warner
“Chairish, Craigslist, and the Alameda Flea Market are my top picks for affordable items. My go-to’s are mirrors, which I think look better with some patina, and lamps, which can be rehabbed easily by a lamp doctor. I also like the store Little Paris in LA. It’s the type of antique store that used to be in every city but is now too rare—full of inventory and diamonds in the rough everywhere.”
“Decor NYC is our secret source for fabulous furniture finds in Manhattan. Not only is the selection great (think Fortuny-covered sofas, Roman Thomas casegoods, and vintage modern chairs), but the longer an item sits on the floor the more it’s reduced. It’s an amazing spot to find incredible quality furniture, lighting, and carpets that are always on sale.”
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