It’s all about knowing what type of seller is on each site.

By Tamara Kraus
September 24, 2018
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That's how you add character to a space, says McCarthy, because it’s probably filled with furniture that anyone can buy. Not only can the piece add charm, but it can also be a fraction of the retail cost. (In the photo above, the guestroom dresser is from Craigslist.)
Christopher Testani

Have you ever wanted to know what a decorator thinks about while choosing fabrics, picking a color palette, or even haggling deals online? This month, the Real Simple editors got to find out as they worked with designers and professional organizers to transform a four-bedroom penthouse in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Jessica McCarthy, the Creative Director of Decorist, transformed the guest room in the apartment into a chic, yet cozy oasis with quite a few tricks up her sleeve. While the room boasts an outstanding book collection and many art-gallery-worthy sculptures, you’d be surprised that some of the pieces were scouted on second hand sites like eBay and Etsy. In fact, she says most of her own home is vintage, so we asked her to share her insider secrets for shopping vintage items online. 

Christopher Testani

1
Always Add at Least One Vintage Detail

That's how you add character to a space, says McCarthy, because it’s probably filled with furniture that anyone can buy. Not only can the piece add charm, but it can also be a fraction of the retail cost.

2
Choose the Best Search Terms

So what’s the method to shopping for these pieces online? McCarthy says it’s all about what you search for. Oftentimes, sellers aren’t aware of how valuable their item is, so if they don’t know that it’s an expensive mid-century modern piece, they might list it by descriptors such as the material or color, so search for those words, too, if you know what you want to buy. Most of the time, Etsy sellers know their stuff and are less likely to budge, so if you want to haggle, your best bet is Craigslist. Ebay can go either way.

3
Don't Forget to Haggle! 

But no matter what, prices are typically marked up quite a bit, so you should always counter lower to create the possibility of meeting somewhere in the middle. If they won’t adjust the price, ask for free shipping or delivery. Make sure to also check out flea markets, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill because it’s easier to bargain in person, especially if you have cash. If you’re really on the hunt, check sites daily as the best items will get snatched up immediately.

Here’s to scoring the deal of a lifetime to add a one-of-a-kind touch to your space. Happy searching!