When blogger and decorator Alisa Bovino set out to design her home office makeover, she was determined to save some serious coin. Her vision for the space spurred from an idea to furnish it entirely through Facebook Marketplace after scoring a pair of bedroom nightstands on the site.
"While it was all secondhand, I wanted to achieve a space that was tasteful and maintained my personal style, combining a layered, traditional-modern-eclectic look," Bovino explains. "In the end, my ultimate goal — to achieve high-style at low-cost — was met, and I was able to bring together old items with their own story to create a fresh, new story, all without breaking the bank."
All in all, the blogger estimates she saved over $8,000 on the job. Here's how.
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"While we call this the office now, this space was originally a spare bedroom, which has always served as my office and simultaneously used as a dumping ground for other renovations we had going on," the A Glass of Bovino blogger admits. "So it was always a mess and I never had a place where I actually felt like I could sit down and get work done."
The first task was to clear the clutter and create a blank box for Bovino to work with. And the best part? Since it would be a space to call her own, the decorator was free to embrace a feminine "granny chic" aesthetic without worrying about if her husband approved or not.
"I wanted to combine a neutral, feminine wallpaper with masculine green walls to create a soothing yet bold environment that embodied my personal style," she offers, adding, "Green is my all-time-favorite color, but I’ve never used this olive shade in our home. However, I fell head over heels in love with the contrast of the dark, masculine paint (Benjamin Moore Trailing Vines) and the warmth of the light wallpaper."
First, Bovino created an eclectic shell for her secondhand finds. "I originally painted the walls white, but it didn't feel as dramatic as I'd initially envisioned the room to be," she explains. "Although the wallpaper didn't contain any green, I knew it would be a wonderful, bold and masculine contrast to the feminine pattern."
With the right base, she set out to find furniture. "I wanted to challenge myself to focus on sourcing items from one place — Facebook Marketplace — where nothing is promised and I’m relying on complete strangers within a five to 100 mile radius to list what I’m looking for sale," the blogger says. "To make it happen, I kept a list of items that I needed in hopes that when I hit refresh, something would show up."
It was no easy process. Over a period of weeks, Bovino logged over 26 hours driving to strangers' homes throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut — hauling her purchase home in the trunk.
As a result of her hard work, about 75 percent of the items in Bovino's home office are sourced from Marketplace. Her pro tips? Refresh often. "I’ve noticed that the Facebook algorithm recognizes the items I search for more than once, so if I’ve been looking for a green velvet chair and hit refresh, results for green velvet chairs will show up," she offers.
You'll also want to do some research on quality manufacturers so you can spot great deals on vintage pieces. "Sellers sometimes don’t realize the brand of furniture they’re selling, so it’s good to get acquainted with the style and characteristics of brands you love so you know how to spot them on Marketplace," Bovino adds. And along those lines, be flexible with your keywords. For example, the decorator found a lot more "burl chests" when she opened up her search terms to say "vintage wood chest."
By using those exact strategies, and putting in the sweat equity, Bovino scored items like the Ethan Allen Cabriole Desk (which she painted a high-gloss black), a Carvers Guild mirror, an early 1900s tiger oak serpentine dresser, and an 1800s antique French mahogany empire chest. She also scored lamps, curtains, and smaller pieces of furniture from contemporary brands like Restoration Hardware, CB2, and West Elm — all through Marketplace.
Overall, Bovino paid just under $2,000 for everything, estimating she saved more than $8,000 in total. "It’s much easier to go to retail or to-the-trade, but the thrill of finding quality, secondhand items at a good price is more exciting to me," she notes. "But with all that said, it did end up taking me a few weeks to compile all the items I was looking for."
Still, Bovino says the end results are absolutely worth it. "I love how this room represents my personal style," she confirms. "It's unique and very granny-chic, which isn't considered trendy, but it's very 'me.'"