This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure.
Despite my obsession with IKEA, I have a soft spot for vintage furniture. It's the perfect way to add a curated vibe to otherwise cold and impersonal, modern decor.
Cruising yard sales and flea markets is my guilty pleasure.
The thrill of the find combined with the prospect of a bargain is impossible to resist. Add to that the knowledge that you're doing the environment a solid, keeping someone else's junk out of the trash, and there's no better way to spend a Saturday morning!
In this post, I'll share our ten best ways to score vintage decor, and how we've incorporated these into our otherwise modern, minimalist-ish home. Stay tuned for Zero-Waste Decor Part II: Unconventional Decor Ideas.
1. Yard Sales
These are your best bet for snagging vintage gems at bargain prices. People aren't usually looking to turn a profit at these things, so prices are generally low. Many are also unaware of the value of what they're selling.
I just missed out on this gorgeous dresser that sold for only $50 at a local yard sale.
I snapped up this unique art deco wardrobe for only $100 at a local street sale this spring! The sellers could probably have made three times that much, had they posted it online.
Even better than cheap? Free!
It doesn't happen often, but it's sooo satisfying to find treasure in someone else's trash. You're literally keeping something out of the landfill.
Some of our best curbside finds include this kid's playhouse that's currently in our yard...
...and an antique Singer sewing table. No one here sews, so we tried using it as a desk for some time. In the end, we sold it for $150 online!
3. Estate Sales
I'll admit, this isn't my favorite way to acquire vintage pieces. It's really hit-or-miss. But, if you enjoy the voyeurism of walking into open houses you have no intention of buying, then estate sales are for you!
Growing up, I loved attending these with my parents. Our childhood home was filled with unique vintage pieces purchased at auction. They're a lot of fun, whether you end up taking anything home or not!
5. Flea Markets
My favorite flea markets are the open air kind.
The Leslieville Flea in Toronto is held bi-monthly during the spring and summer, and is put on in conjunction with an adjacent Farmer's Market. It's hipster heaven.
These pre-loved, geometric planters from Luvewant Shop's flea booth stopped me in my tracks.
It's brought life and visual interest to our previously drab front entryway.
6. Online Vintage Shops
There are many Etsy and Instagram shops that curate used and vintage goods. You pay a bit of a premium for the legwork they put in collecting these treasures, but it's still more economical (and environmentally-friendly!) than buying new.
This graphic 80's poster print has been a nice addition to our gallery wall.
7. Online Marketplaces
We make it a point to search the used online market for things we need/want before resorting to buying new.
I find Facebook Marketplace to be the most relevant venue for buying (and selling!) stuff locally.
It's particularly good for used toys and boardgames. You often pay less than a quarter of retail and it's a zero-waste transaction!
Eric got our entire home gym and weight set, used, for only $400 (thousands in savings!). If our basement wasn't such a hot mess right now, I'd show you...
We've yet to buy furniture this way, but we sell virtually all of our old furniture online. It's a surefire way to turn your trash into someone else's treasure while recouping some of the cost.
8. Family Heirlooms
There's no single more budget- and environmentally-friendly source of decor than stuff you inherit from family. It costs you nothing, keeps stuff out of landfill, and preserves the memory of your loved ones.
The antique grandfather clock in our family room was inherited from Eric's late grandma. It adds a personal, vintage touch to this otherwise modern, boho room.
This vintage abacus is also from Eric's grandma. She actually used this for arithmetic before pocket calculators were invented. I wonder if my grandkids will put my Texas Instruments calculator up on their shelf one day?
This chair? You guessed it: another gem from Eric's Nana.
We updated it with modern, geometric fabric and now it fits right in.
For more on this vintage boho chair makeover, check out this post:
This perfectly weathered wood chest was Eric's grandfather's military trunk from his days in the Canadian army.
It makes our living room.
9. Brick & Mortar Vintage Shops
This is probably the priciest way to shop vintage. But, it's often still more economical, and definitely more environmentally-friendly, than buying new.
My absolute favorite source of midcentury modern furniture is Guff in Toronto. It's where we got our MCM credenza and dining set.
We reupholstered the seats in leather to give them a more modern look and to allow for an easy wipe down.
For more on our DIY MCM chair reupholstery, check out this post:
10. Thrift Shops
When you shop at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, not only are you going zero-waste, but you're contributing to a good cause. A portion of their profits go