Old to New: Refreshing Your Home Décor On A Budget

The New Year is upon us- time to hit the refresh button! Personally, the new year is bringing me even closer to the end of my home renovation project. While the construction is winding down, the decorating is just beginning. Time for the fun and overwhelming task of decorating, styling and utilizing all the new spaces we just created.

After all the expenses, extras and surprises that we have accrued with this renovation, my wallet is feeling mighty light! The last thing I should be doing is spending money on new décor (the children have to eat after all).

Let’s keep it real; after the transformation our home has just gone through, the last thing I want to do is use my old furniture! Not only is it cost prohibitive to buy all new stuff, I also find it wasteful on our environment.  While I may not make every single decision in my life based on its impact on the environment, I am trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my consumption and my overall carbon footprint.

How can we save money and save the earth at the same time, while still getting the fresh start we are seeking ? Well, I’ve found a few strategies that have helped me do just that. In this blog post, I will focus on one: shopping vintage!

Antique Stores: The Ultimate Thrill for the Bargain Hunter

I took a drive to the beautiful towns of Lambertville and Frenchtown, to shop the incredible selection of home décor stores. Both towns are filled with awesome home décor shops, art galleries, antique stores and much much more.

One of the many beauiful homes in Frenchtown.

If you’ve shopped antique/vintage furniture stores before, you know that you have to go in with an open mind and lots and of patience! It can be an overwhelming experience to walk into a store filled with goodies on every available square inch of floor space. If you are looking for a specific item for a specific room in your home, here’s my first tip: go prepared. Have your measurements, floor plans, and as much information as you need to make your decision. The downside of shopping a vintage or antique store is that the treasure you find is usually a one of a kind piece. If you think you will sleep on it, you may come back the next day and find it’s long gone!

At the same time, most of the vintage stores I’ve shopped, have a strict no return policy. This can be a caveat, having to make a decision quickly and risking not being able to return the item if it doesn’t work out. Having all your measurements in hand will help you make an informed decision! Despite these challenges, I found the benefits of shopping vintage far outweigh the inconveniences.

Not only is it possible to save a lot of money on used items, you are also more likely to find a unique item that isn’t available at every retailer in the country. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorites amongst the national furniture stores and they certainly offer beautiful items. However, I personally want my home to be filled with unique pieces that have a history and a story. I believe that my home is an extension of my personality and it’s a blank canvas right now; an opportunity to add elements that represent the things I care about and the things I find most attractive and appealing. That means it doesn’t all have to come out of a beautifully curated catalog. Using a little imagination and creativity with your décor can help you personalize a space to truly make it your own.

A vintage scale at The People’s Store in Lamberstville.

After months of searching for a small vanity for my master bedroom at my favorite furniture catalogs and stores, I couldn’t find anything I loved (or could afford). This finally prompted me to make the trip down to Frenchtown and Lambertville. This is when I stumbled upon A Touch of the Past; a gorgeous antique store offering items merchandised by era (from 1800s to mid-century modern). There, tucked behind a huge Victorian armoire, I found a gorgeous 1920s European Style neo-classical brass vanity. I immediately fell in love with the ornate detailing and knew it would fit perfectly in the small space I had.

After several rounds of negotiating (and always negotiate at an antique store), we agreed on a price and the vanity was loaded into my car! By shopping vintage, not only did I end up with a unique one of a kind piece, I also saved a ton of money, and was feeling great about cutting back on the consumption cycle.

The beautiful detailing on the 1920s Vanity I purchased from A Touch Of the Past in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Taking the Hunt Online

For those of you who may not have access to antique/vintage stores near you, no fear, there are several online options available such as Chairish and 1stdibs, amongst many others. Both are online marketplaces connecting customers to antique dealers, shops and galleries worldwide. 

I have first-hand experience purchasing from Chairish and couldn’t believe how easy the whole process was. After purchasing the beautiful vanity from A Touch of the Past, I was on the hunt for a stool to use with it. I turned to Chairish and found a beautiful mini foot stool that looked like it would fit perfectly with my newly purchased vanity. 

The stool was priced a little higher than I wanted to spend. Chairish has an option that allows you to make an offer on an item. Just like in a bricks and mortar store, sellers anticipate a little negotiating. I decided to make the seller an offer on the stool and I was thrilled when he accepted! Cha-ching, there I go saving money all over the place! The stool arrived in 3 days’ time as promised and it looked even better than it did online. The fabric that I thought I would immediately change is actually growing on me. I’ve decided to leave it as is for now.

The stool I purchased from Chairish via the seller Qualityiskey.

Repurpose & Transform

My success in Lambertville and on Charirish, gave me the confidence to explore the vintage route a little further. While I was loving my “new” brass vanity, I realized that I needed a little more space for storage for my cosmetics. I went straight to Pinterest to try to find inspiration and ideas for cosmetics storage. I was 45 minutes into a Pinterest black hole session (you all know what I’m talking about; you log in to search for one thing and when you finally come out of the trance many minutes or hours later, you find yourself on something completely unrelated) when I came across Julia Brenner’s article on Apartment Therapy.

Julia’s article was all about Lauren Svenstrup’s Chicago apartment décor style. Julia shared several images as part of a home tour and one image in particular caught my eye. It was the image of a vintage Asian noodle cart Lauren styled with candles and books that resulted in my lightbulb moment. What a great idea it would be to utilize a vintage noodle cart as additional storage for my cosmetics!

I immediately started searching the internet for anyone that had ever been successful utilizing a noodle cart in this manner before. However, after searching all my favorite blogs and forums, I couldn’t validate my idea. But then I realized that just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it won’t work!

The whole point of repurposing is to use an item or object in a way other than the one in which It was originally intended for. A few measurements later to confirm the dimensions of a typical noodle cart and how much capacity it could actually hold, and the wild idea was slowly digging its imaginary heels into my brain. So, my search began for an affordable and suitable noodle cart and I easily found several noodle carts available on several different online marketplaces. I ended up purchasing mine from ebay.com, which was the last place I would have ever thought of to search for home décor items.

My orginal inspiration! Photo Credit: Julia Brenner

Overwhelmed by eBay? Hyperfocus

eBay really does have everything, which is completely overwhelming for me. I think the idea of how “endless” eBay is, with millions of listings, just seems really intimidating. But here’s my eBay tip: Find Inspiration elsewhere and go to eBay knowing exactly the item you are looking for. Knowing exactly what I was searching for, made eBay much more manageable for me. I hyper focused on the exact item I needed and was able to quickly narrow down my search to a much more manageable list of options. Fast-forward through all the boring details and I’m totally in love with the noodle cart I purchased from eBay. The experience was seamless and eBay made the whole process easy and secure.

The Vintage Noodle Cart I purchased from eBay.

A little Hagerty Polish and a lot of elbow grease later, I had this old noodle cart shining and ready to be loaded. A quick visit to the Container Store, and a few plastic organizers later and my noodle cart, not only was looking amazing, but my cosmetics station was now totally functional. Success at the fraction of the cost of going to buy all new furniture!

The noodle cart repurposed as a cosmetics organizer.

Recipe for Success

So, before you say shopping vintage is not for you, give it a shot and you might be surprised. I never thought I would find success shopping vintage stores. It can seem so overwhelming, but if you start your decorating journey with a little preparedness, lots of patience and a small idea of what you want to do, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Not only am I super pleased with how this little corner in my master bedroom turned out, but I’m super happy I saved a ton of money and I reduced my carbon footprint. What do you all think of the final look?

The final look!

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