Missing your vintage fix? With major flea markets from Brimfield to Round Top cancelled or rescheduled, and many local thrift stores limiting donations and new inventory, it's a tough time to be a vintage lover. But all is not lost.
Enter Facebook Marketplace. The site is full of undiscovered treasures that can help you remake your space on the cheap. Plus, buying vintage online is a great alternative to shuttered flea markets and thrift shops amid the pandemic.
Don't believe us? Take it from decor bloggers Jessica Nickerson and Dana Dore of House Homemade and Adored House, respectively. Both design influencers recently created intentional learning spaces sourcing bargains from Facebook Marketplace. Here, they share their insider tips for making the most out of the platform.
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Sort trash from treasure
Think of Facebook Marketplace as more of a Goodwill than a curated vintage shop. There are great finds for a bargain, but you'll have to do some digging. To find the best items, Adored House (opens in new tab)'s Dore recommends using words like "antique" or "vintage" when searching for furniture. She also asks the seller if wooden pieces are made from solid wood (which means she can always sand and refinish them).
For Nickerson of House Homemade (opens in new tab), studying the photos is key. "I like to buy from sellers that post more than one picture and are very descriptive in their post," she adds. "It helps me feel like I'm getting the whole picture before I buy."
That said, neither blogger shies away from asking for more images. Nickerson says if you like the style and lines of a piece, and it seems to be structurally sound, jump on it — fast. But, Dore adds a caveat: "I do not feel totally obligated to buy the piece if it isn’t what I was expecting when I see it in person for the first time."
(Almost) always negotiate
"Nine out of ten times, sellers are willing to come down on price," Dore says. So unless the listing says "non negotiable," it can't hurt to ask — usually. If you feel a price is fair and really want an item, it may be better to agree on asking and get over to see it in person ASAP.
"Sometimes I’ll ask once we’re there and have seen the item," Nickerson offers. "Yes, it puts them on the spot, but they can tell me no if they want." Just be sure to have that exact amount of cash on hand so the seller doesn't have to make change once they've given you a deal, she adds.
Make safety a priority
No bargain is worth risking your safety. Nickerson and Dore say to check out the seller's profile (you may have friends in common) ahead of time along with their marketplace rating. If you don't have a buddy to bring along for pickup, be sure to share the address and time with someone close to you.
For smaller items, you can always arrange a meeting in a public place — like a grocery store parking lot. "I met someone for a drop off once and she had someone on her speaker in her car the entire time," Nickerson remembers. "That’s a good way to add a level of protection."
And in COVID times, you'll want to add another layer of safety. Confirm ahead of time that both parties will wear masks, and you can offer to arrange payment via Paypal so that cash doesn't have to exchange hands.
"Paint it. Strip and stain it. Add new knobs," Nickerson offers. "I just recently made a new top for a console table I got for $30 back in January. It looks totally different now." Dore agrees, adding that she likes to refresh dated wood finishes with a light sanding or chemical wood stripper.
She also says to rethink how you use old pieces. "I love repurposing vintage furniture to serve new purposes in our home," she adds. "I have turned an old wood kitchen table into a built-in desk and an old china cabinet into a media cabinet for our TV."
Create a space for learning
When you're using vintage items to create a dedicated learning space, the key is to create a look that flows with the rest of your home's decor. If you can spare the room, Dore prefers children to have a separate schooling area. "The kitchen is meant for cooking, the dining table is meant for eating, let's give them a space that feels like it's meant for learning," she says, suggesting a roomy desk, good lighting, and cheerful colors.
That said, you don't need to sacrifice your personal style. "I have a vintage cottage feel to my home, and I have been very successful with finding vintage school furniture that fits seamlessly with my decor and functions perfectly for my home," she notes. "The large chalkboard and the half dozen vintage kids' school chairs that I have are some examples. Marketplace is a great resource for searching for these items."
To create a learning space in her own home, Dore transformed the kitchen pantry into a homework room. Meanwhile, Nickerson removed a large armchair in her family's reading room to create a work area for her daughters.
"I found an old white table ($40) and a small scale cane chair ($25) on Marketplace, placed them right under the wall mount reading lamp, hung some art at the right level, and pulled in a plant because plants make every space better," she explains, adding that when virtual learning is over, she can re-list everything back on Marketplace and return the room to its original layout.
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