Budgets are challenging in every interior design project; everyone wants the biggest bang for their buck. For furniture, that means pieces that demonstrate exceptional design, quality construction, outstanding durability and consummate comfort—all at an acceptable price. Even though we specialize in luxury interior design and have clients with generous budgets, we have to make tradeoffs. Every piece can’t cost a small fortune—nor should it.
We browse 1stdbs for inspiration. It’s hard not to drool over these Paul Evans cabinets from the 1960s ($200,000 at left and $295,000 at right). But we turn to the online marketplaces for per-owned pieces that are “price performers” when budgets are tight. (Images: 1stdbs)
That’s made us big fans of the online marketplaces for quality pre-owned pieces, from almost-new designer furniture to fine antiques. One of our recent projects (for a client who moved into a vintage apartment with so much space—6000 sq. ft. to be exact—that we supplemented new pieces with vintage finds) made us realize it’s time to give these fabulous sites a shout-out. So just as we’ve posted our most trusted design sources for special goods and services (see our latest secret sources list here), we’re posting our shortlist (in alphabetic order) for excellent pre-owned offerings below. But caveat emptor, or “buyer beware;” purchasing online is harder than you think. See our blog on “5 tips to buying pre-owned luxury furniture online” for our stringent guidelines.
A 1970 hand chair, antique Louis XVI-style bergères and Michael Smith leather wingback chairs at Chairish. (Images: Chairish)
The couple behind Chairish—Anna and Gregg Brockway, who purchased Dering Hall last year and founded DECASO (see below)—are uber-smart, and so is this platform. For pre-owned, the pieces are fabulous because all items are pre-screened by sharp-eyed curators and adhere to high style, quality and condition standards. That explains why their return rate is less than 2% (versus an industry average of 10%+). There’s also a new and custom channel with luxury brands, and frequent “sales” curated by up-and-coming designers that offer shoppers an easy way to find pieces that are all in a specific vein. chairish.com
Ico Parisi room divider and 1940s walnut skyscraper bookcases at DECASO (Images: DECASO)
DECASO—an anacronym for “decorative arts society”—is Chairish’s more upscale, sophisticated and serious sibling. Rather than pre-owned, its offerings are significant 20th Century and antique pieces, all carefully curated and meticulously described. Dealers are also rigorously screened by none other than their peers to ensure they offer outstanding merchandise and have solid reputations. Needless to say, pieces can get quite expensive on this site, but it’s also possible to sort by price to find some of the more affordable items. Unlike 1stdbs, which removed dealer names in 2017, it’s possible to contact dealers directly through DECASO’s messaging system to make and/or negotiate offers. decaso.com
One of our new scores on Etsy is SnakeArts from artist J.L. Cook, whose cast bronze rattlesnake handle is nothing short of magnificent. (Images: Etsy)
Yes, there are lots of crafty items and kitschy vintage pieces on this gigantic e-commerce site for handmade or vintage goods, but we’ve found work by seriously talented artisans that can go head-to-head with any luxury supplier. One of our favorite go-to artisans for couture pillows is on Etsy (see who it is here), and our current favorite find is SnakeArts from artist J.L. Cook, whose cast bronze rattlesnake handle is nothing short of magnificent. It’s not easy to buy large pieces on Etsy (shipping can be a hassle) but the site is a veritable gold mine for reasonably priced décor and accent pieces, from pottery to pillow covers to hardware to lighting. etsy.com
At InCollect, venerated dealer Victoria & Son’s offerings include the Cole Porter Low and High Étagères Frederick Victoria designed for Billy Baldwin decades ago and are still in production today, and an artisan-made version of an Art Deco chair made by Andre Sornay in 1932. (Images: InCollect)
Currently, this is the most sophisticated, collected and rigorously curated entry in our toolbox of online platforms for equitably priced antiques, art and new custom furnishings. It features 20th century and antique stock from many of the nation’s most venerated dealers and excellent search tools—purposefully built by founder John Smiroldo to help users find what they want, connect with dealers and manage projects efficiently and effectively. Given the site’s sophistication and level of stock, it’s clear that Smiroldo (who also owns and operates Antiques & Fine Art Magazine and AFA Publishing) knows his stuff. So do we and we think they have one of the best stashes of fine art around. incollect.com
Find everything from an Americana Style 20th century pie safe to a Mid-Century Edward Wormley’s mid-20th century Mister Cabinet on Sotheby’s Home. (Images: Sotheby’s Home)
With its acquisition of Viyet.com in 2018, Sotheby’s became a full-service source for décor with a provenance. Now renamed Sotheby’s Home, this digital marketplace complements its parent company’s auction and private sales with decorative accessories, art and furnishings that are more reasonably priced (and usually under $5,000). Options range from new pieces in every style from showrooms and retailers to vintage and antique items of every ilk—all subjected to curatorial oversight, often from alums of big-name auction houses, before going up on the site. We love Sotheby’s Home for its sheer size; there’s nothing you can’t find here. sothebyshome.com
04 Jun 2019