6 Ways to Score Big While Shopping Vintage Online

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Searching for vintage furniture online takes some serious time and dedication. As someone who has spent more hours than I care to count in hot pursuit of the perfect wicker daybed or lucite cocktail table, I can tell you that with a bit of preparation and planning, you can make your vintage treasure hunting much more efficient.

Vintage, Rustic Bar Area

Vintage, Rustic Bar Area

Amazing architectural details and great bones call to be enhanced with rich industrial finds mixed with eclectic, modern touches. A pair of leather chairs is a cozy spot to enjoy conversation and drinks from the rustic bar.

Photo by: Michael Moeller

Michael Moeller

One of the things that became a game-changer for me was finally organizing and saving all of my go-to search terms.

Most of us tend to search for the same types of items over and over again. So, to streamline your searching, you should create a master document that you can always refer back to with all of your favorite search terms.

This list took me a long time to compile, but lucky for you, I want to share all my best searches and save you guys loads of time. Mix-and-match these search terms below to find all the best finds in your city (or across the country!).

Vintage Cutting Board Display

Vintage Cutting Board Display

A jet black wall provides a dramatic backdrop for this rustic display of vintage cutting and serving boards.

Photo by: Jennifer Puno

Jennifer Puno

Start With General Searches

These are the sorts of searches I do if I'm not necessarily looking for something super specific, but just want to browse and see what's out there. I'll search for things like:

vintage + type of furniture or vintage + material

  • vintage rocker
  • vintage bench
  • vintage cocktail table
  • vintage coffee table
  • vintage wall hanging
  • vintage leather
  • vintage acrylic
  • vintage lounger
  • vintage bed
  • vintage sleeper
  • vintage patio
  • vintage kids
  • vintage rug
  • vintage mirror
  • vintage light fixture
  • vintage chandelier
  • vintage lamp
White Eames Chair & Cowhide Rug in Urban

White Eames Chair & Cowhide Rug in Urban

Easily the best seat in the house, an Eames lounge chair enjoys views magnificent views. The chair is a modern counterpoint to the rugged cowhide rug and exposed brick. The “Cappuccino” art photography piece by Francis Augustine creates a focal point above the metal bookshelf.

Photo by: Marie Burgos

Marie Burgos

Add In Iconic Designers

If you're looking for an item from a specific designer, that's easy peasy; type in the name of the designer and search away. If you know exactly what item you're looking for, you can search for a specific piece like "Eames rocker"; however, I tend to typically put in only the name of the designer as it will expand your results and include things that might have been mislabeled by the seller. Here's a quick list of designers I often search for in the midcentury modern realm:

  • Charles and Ray Eames
  • Herman Miller
  • Drexel Heritage
  • Paul Evans
  • Thayer Coggin
  • Arne Jacobsen
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Milo Baughman
  • Paul McCobb
  • George Nelson
  • Alvar Aalto
  • Adrian Pearsall
  • Hans Knoll
  • Heywood Wakefield
  • Harry Bertoia
Vintage Bathroom Art

Vintage Bathroom Art

Vintage bathroom art and accessories create an unusual yet soft feel in this bathroom.

Discover Unusual Items, Too

Sometimes I'm looking for decor or furniture, but I'm not picky about the designer or brand name. This is my go-to list for unusual or interesting items that often help me pull together the finishing touches of a space.

  • vintage locker
  • vintage school desk
  • vintage macrame
  • vintage weaving
  • vintage bar
  • vintage patio
  • vintage plant hanger
  • vintage kilim
  • vintage painting
  • vintage ashtray
  • vintage animal
  • vintage candleholders
  • vintage mirror
  • vintage needlepoint
  • vintage embroidery
Gold Vintage Bar Cart

Gold Vintage Bar Cart

Now that your bar is beautiful, what should you serve your guests? Christian May of Maison 21 suggests mixing the practical with the unexpected. "Have a selection of basic liquors: vodka, gin, bourbon or whiskey and vermouth," May says. "Round these out with a few funky liquors in bottles with different shapes for visual appeal."

Photo by: Courtesy of Maison 21

Courtesy of Maison 21

Narrow Searches Down by Time

I'm addicted to anything and everything from the 70s. So I often fine-tune my searches by adding a time period to the search term. You can either try adding this to the phrase "vintage" ("vintage 70s macrame," for example) for more specific searches, or replacing the word "vintage" for a larger list of results ("70s macrame"). Sometimes I just search the decade and see what comes up (try all the variations of the decade you're searching for).

  • 70s, 1970s or seventies (this, of course, works for any decade)
  • MCM
  • mid century
  • vintage
  • antique
  • European antique
Small Bath With Vintage Appeal

Small Bath With Vintage Appeal

For a personal, time-touched look, consider repurposing an existing furniture piece instead of installing a new vanity. In this space, designer Lindsey Lang used a deft hand when mixing old and new elements. “I used a reclaimed piece as a vanity and an antique market basket for storage. These older elements pair beautifully with the modern tiles.”

Photo by: Lindsey Lang Design, Ltd.; Rob Streeter

Lindsey Lang Design, Ltd.; Rob Streeter

Pull In Your Design Style

Another good general term search includes particular styles. This one is a little tricky as sometimes sellers don't know exactly how to categorize their items; however, if you really love a particular decor or design style, these search terms can often result in some great finds.

  • Hollywood glam
  • boho
  • rustic
  • traditional
  • funky
  • groovy
  • industrial
  • Danish modern
  • Americana
  • shabby chic
Dining Room With Pink Table and Floral Curtains

Dining Room With Pink Table and Floral Curtains

Emily Henderson, host of HGTV's Secrets From a Stylist , takes on the chance to make over one couple's empty dining room. For the full-on girly look, floral curtains flank the window and a hot pink table surrounded by the couple's existing Eames chairs takes center stage.

From: Secrets From a Stylist

Find Your Favorite Materials

For some more general searching, you can try looking up specific materials. You'll sometimes find that certain materials were more popular during specific time periods (like macrame in the 70s), so this is an effective way of tracking down additional items that were not tagged for a specific decade or designer. I usually pair these materials with the word vintage or antique:

vintage + material or antique + material

  • lucite
  • acrylic
  • macrame
  • woven
  • sheepskin
  • leather
  • bakelite
  • plexiglass
  • teak
  • fiberglass
Gray Geometric Rug Shows Through Lucite Coffee Table

Gray Geometric Rug Shows Through Lucite Coffee Table

A stylish lucite coffee table ensures this living room's funky geometric rug is entirely visible. The lucite table is also durable, safe and less prone to messy fingerprints.

Photo by: Kapito Muller Interiors

Kapito Muller Interiors

HGTV Stars Share Their Top Shopping Tips

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Pretty Glassware

“Breakables shouldn’t break the bank,” says Genevieve Gorder of Genevieve’s Renovation. “Life’s too short to worry about shattering a glass—so I restock with these IKEA classics every year.” Krokett 13-ounce glasses, $2.50 each, IKEA stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Patterned Frames

“A $100 frame doesn’t make your photo look 10 times better than a $10 frame, so why spend a fortune?” says Sabrina Soto of The High Low Project. “One of my go-tos: Jonathan Adler’s line for JCPenney. They’re fun and graphic, and they’ll happy up any table or shelf.” Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler Quatrefoil 4" x 6" MDF frame, $12, jcp.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Upholstered Headboards

“Ballard Designs’ headboards come in plush fabrics and have the same luxe details—button tufting, crisp tailoring—as high-end versions. The only thing missing is an extra zero on the price tag!”—Ashley Goforth, Ashley Goforth Design, Houston, TX. Giselle tufted queen headboard in velvet apple, $490, ballarddesigns.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Glass Lamps

“Usually only chichi ceramic lamps have this kind of vibrancy. But Lamps Plus somehow does it for $40—and that includes the shade!”—Maggie Cruz, Maggie Cruz Interior Design, Miami, FL. Gourd 21?1/2"-tall glass and steel lamp in beetroot purple with a polyester shade, $40, lampsplus.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Wood Dining Chairs

“If there’s no upholstery, inexpensive chairs can easily pass for pricey,” says Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict. “This X-back number will fool everyone at the table.” French Bistro wood chairs in light walnut finish, $260 for a set of 2, worldmarket.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Graphic Artwork

“Spend a lot on art? Not when a $20 print is this gallery-worthy.”—Julie Massucco Kleiner, Massucco Warner Miller, Seattle, WA. Jazmin 8" x 10" unframed print, $20, luluandgeorgia.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Kitchen Cabinet Knobs

“I refuse to pay $30 per knob when Ican get the same look for a lot less. And I promise: If the style is timeless, no one will know the difference.”—Katie Rosenfeld, Katie Rosenfeld Design, Wellesley, MA. Liberty Hardware Octagon 1"-diameter zinc knobs in bronze finish, $15.50 for a set of 10, wayfair.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Seasonal Accessories

“West Elm is unbeatable for on-trend accessories. They’re so affordable, you won’t feel guilty about buying season-specific accents, like summery blue vases.”—Taylor Borsari, Taylor Borsari Inc., Las Vegas, NV. Waterscape 9 3/4"-tall salt-blasted glass vase in ocean blue, $29, Carla Peters Sand Glaze 6 1/4"-tall ceramic vase, $14, and Modernist 12 1/2"-tall earthenware vase in aqua crackle, $49, all westelm.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Colorful Throw Pillows

“A sofa lavishly heaped with fabulous pillows says ‘posh,’ but they add up fast,” says Hilary Farr of Love It or List It. “CB2’s selection—in energetic colors and bold prints—gets you the piled-on effect without the empty wallet.” Division 20" x 20" cotton pillow in neon pink, $40, and Tribal Band 18" x 18" linen and cotton pillow, $35, both cb2.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Cheerful Kitchen Towels

“A win-win: They’re affordable and they hide stains.”—Sally Steponkus, Sally Steponkus Interiors, Washington, D.C. Ariel Stripe cotton towel in red, $7, tag2u.com, Jardin Tomatoes cotton towel, $9, tag2u.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Flashy Cutlery

“Most low-cost flatwarelacks pizzazz—it’s like something from a cafeteria,” says David Bromstad of Flipping the Block. “Not this blinged-out cutlery! It’s chic and substantial; you’ll feel like King Midas when you eat.” Threshold Arkita stainless steel flatware in hammered gold finish, $20 for a 5-piece setting, target.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Vibrant Runners

“I never fork over big bucks for a carpet runner in a high-traffic area,” says Meg Caswell, Season 6 Design Star winner. “My favorites are from Urban Outfitters—lots of snappy patterns, with no sticker shock.” Magical Thinking Diamond 2' x 8' cotton runner, $44, urbanoutfitters.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

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