How to Incorporate Second-hand Furniture and Decor Into Your Home’s Interior Design

The eight designers selected to participate in Dwell With Dignity’s pop-up fundraiser, Thrift Studio, this year are sharing their tips on how to incorporate second-hand furniture or decor pieces into your home’s interior design.

(Hit the flash sales at the Thrift Studio — details here.)

The designers hope to encourage sustainable design by sharing how to creatively repurpose and reuse outdated furniture pieces and eliminate design waste. From finding ways to upcycle outdated pieces to using modern pieces to keeping antique pieces relevant and intentional to making sure there’s harmony with each curated piece, their recommendations are below.

Thrift Studio vignette by Yates Desygn

Find ways to upcycle outdated pieces. Utilizing secondhand pieces can lend a space a unique personality and the sense that the furniture has been carefully collected over time. An outdated item can be easily upcycled to meld with the language of your current furniture. For instance, we transformed a dated armoire into a chic freestanding bar using a fresh coat of lacquered paint and a textured wallcovering. – Bryan Yates, design principal, and Mike Yates, managing director, at Yates Desygn

Incorporate modern pieces to keep antique pieces relevant and intentional. I am so passionate about incorporating great vintage and antique pieces alongside new furnishings. I feel that no space is truly unique and special without an older piece. True antiques are meant to have a little wear and patina, which we feel is how their story is told. We love to hang a modern piece of art or incorporate a funky lamp to keep the antique piece relevant and intentional.

Lacquer pieces of furniture that don’t have attractive wood tones and add grasscloth wallpaper to doors and drawers. This not only freshens the piece up but gives it an added layer of protection and resilience. Add tape trim or a beautiful flange to upholstered pieces and use performance fabric to give the piece longevity. – Sarah Hargrave, owner and principal at The Collective

The Collective
Chase Dowell Interior Design

Make sure there’s harmony with your curated pieces. When incorporating second-hand pieces into your design, don’t be afraid to mix the old with the new! The key is making sure that there is harmony with the pieces you are curating together. Be it with color, shape, or style; look for matching details between your lucky finds! – Chase Dowell, principal at Chase Dowell Interior Design

Hold onto old frames and repurpose them. Anytime I find an interesting old frame, even if the artwork isn’t great, I’ll hold on to it. I will then look for an antique botanical or drawing or sometimes even order an inexpensive reproduction online. These go to the framer to be matted, and once glass is added, it’s still a lot less expensive than new frames, and a lot of the times more interesting. Old frames can also make great powder room mirrors. 

I’m always on the hunt for wicker or rattan that’s in good condition. Spray painting it a fun color instantly adds a bit of whimsy to any room. I love collecting interesting vintage plates or bowls and hanging them together around a mirror or art, over a door frame, or displaying them in a cabinet. – Meredith Ellis, principal interior designer at Meredith Ellis Design

Meredith Ellis Design
AF Home Interiors

Create a layered look with a combination of old and new. As a designer and a lover of vintage, I feel incorporating special pieces that have been re-designed is a must for a layered look. I want spaces to feel very curated with a combination of old and new. With some imagination, great pieces can be the focal point of the room and start a conversation. – Baron Farha, owner at AF Home Interiors

Use a local upholsterer. I love my local upholsterer. I can transform anything with some new fabric and a coat of lacquer on the legs. – Kara Legako, owner of Kara Legako Design

Kara Legako Design
Tori Rubinson Interiors

Get creative and freshen up an old piece. In a space, think about mixing antiques and vintage with new.  You can freshen up an old piece with paint, clean or replace the hardware, or reupholster with a fun fabric. Get creative and have fun! – Tori Rubinson, owner and principal designer at Tori Rubinson Interiors  

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If you find something that you love, you can make it work in your space. – Mary Beth Wagner, principal and lead designer at Mary Beth Wagner Interiors

Mary Beth Wagner

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