The 8 Decor Items You Should Buy Secondhand Online

Real Estate Sales Representative with TwoMoveYou Guaranteed Real Estate Brokered by Century 21 Percy Fulton Ltd., Brokerage

This article is shared with you, compliments of Victoria Carter, Broker, Century 21 Percy Fulton Ltd., Brokerage in Brighton, Ontario

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Written By Sarah Lyon

As fun as it is to head to an antiques store or flea market and spend time browsing for treasures in person, sometimes it's more convenient to search for vintage decor online. After all, countless secondhand treasures can be found all across the internet—it's just a matter of sifting through all the listings and determining which pieces are worth adding to cart. To help you streamline your vintage shopping and develop a strategy for scoring amazing pieces online, we've rounded up the eight best types of secondhand decor items to look for on the web. 

1. Lampshades

Every room needs a lamp or two, and lampshades are definitely worth adding to your shopping list, says Stacy Harvie, an experienced vintage shopper and the owner of secondhand home shop Capitol Vintage Charm. "Even if shipping is high, you can usually get a much better deal on a high quality used lampshade than a new one," Harvie notes. "You can also find some really extraordinary lampshade designs and shapes to elevate a very basic and inexpensive lamp into a show-piece for a very low cost!" Harvie purchased the lampshade below on Facebook Marketplace and had it shipped to her home.

2. Artwork

Art enthusiasts will argue that there's no such thing as owning too many prints and paintings. Why not go ahead and expand your collection to include some secondhand finds? Designer Kevin O'Gara shares one tip. "I like looking for vintage artwork, or just buying pieces simply for the frame itself, but sometimes all a piece of art needs is a new frame to give it a fresh look," he says. In other words, don't judge a work of art by its frame—that can easily be altered down the line! 

3. Sconces

Nothing is more charming than a bedroom with vintage sconces; they add so much dimension to any space. As O'Gara, who greatly enjoys sourcing sconces secondhand, notes, "Old candle sconces are often very sculptural (and more affordable), and you can take them to a lamp shop to get them wired for lightbulbs super easily!"

4. Rugs

Amy Hughes, interior stylist and vintage furniture dealer at New Jersey-based Maplewood Mercantile, has purchased many vintage rugs online. She offers advice for those who are new to the online shopping process. "Online dealers, who specialize in one area of home decor, will have way more inventory to choose from than a vintage generalist, like me," she explains. "The good ones will also have newcomers in the pipeline. So if they don’t have exactly what you need now, they may be able to source it for you fast."

Once you find a piece you love, you'll want to do your due diligence before handing over your payment info. "Before you buy, be sure to get detail photos of any worn areas, holes, tears, stains, or repairs," Hughes comments. "Check if the edge or fringe is intact. And make sure the rug thickness is right for where you plan to use it. Be sure the colors are true by asking if the photos were taken in natural light, and if the images have been edited or if any filters were added." 

5. Vintage Trinkets

For Ariene Bethea, the owner of Dressing Rooms Interior Studio in Charlotte, NC, this refers to "anything one-of-a-kind that I can use for an unintended purpose." She adds, "Vendors call these 'smalls'; they may be interesting tramp art boxes, tissue paper holders, or small tabletop statues." Small bowls, vases, ceramic jars, and other petite finds are also worth checking out.

Home influencer and author Chelsey Brown is also a fan of these smaller objects. "Items I always purchase secondhand online are: chic glassware, small vintage art, lighting, and small decorative accents," she shares. "I make sure to purchase items that will have a decent shipping cost and are less likely to damage in transit." And don't forget to act quickly if you spot something you love. "Accessories are often the finishing touches for a space, but when you see an item you love, jump on it, regardless of where you are in the design process," urges Molly Blankenship, who sources a variety of antiques and decorative objects that she resells online at Not all Beige.

6. Bar Accessories

Could your bar cart use a bit of a refresh? Online secondhand stores often have whimsical entertaining pieces that are perfect to keep on display. Jazz up your bar cart with the addition of a vintage champagne bucket, a bronze serving tray, a chic set of coasters, and a quirky bottle opener, to name a few. This is an excellent way to add personality to your drink station and distinguish your bar cart from everyone else's! 

7. Books

Let's face it, purchasing brand new hardcover books can take a toll on one's wallet, especially if you're largely looking to buy these texts for decorative purposes. Many online vintage stores sell charming hardcovers that will liven up your shelves or coffee table in no time and are sold at a fraction of their sticker price. And if a book has a bit of wear, don't let that stop you—the more storied (ha!), the better.

8. Mirrors

Perhaps you've searched store after store and just aren't finding a mirror that's right for your space. Don't give up yet—many online secondhand shops have a fantastic mirror selection, particularly if you're craving a weathered, ornate-looking piece. These mirrors look wonderful all throughout the house; they shine when hung anywhere from the entryway to the bedroom to the powder path. 

Note that when shopping for secondhand items online, you will have to come to your purchasing decision without being able to physical feel and examine every inch of an item, so you will want to ask any necessary questions ahead of time. "A few things I always look out for though are accurate measurements and plenty of pictures," says home Instagrammer Lowe Saddler. "If the listing doesn't include them I make a point to ask because there's nothing worse than buying the cutest side table, painting, whatever and it doesn't fit in your intended space." 

Kirk Rickman and Victoria Carter
TwoMoveYou Real Estate Century 21 Brighton
6 Ironwood Cres, Brighton, ON K0K 1H0
Phone: 647-697-7709

Comments (3)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

I agree with you except rugs, being a non-pet owner (wife has extreme allergies).  We made it to Taco Tuesday, so all that is left is to decide soft or Hard?  Bill 


Jan 25, 2022 08:26 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

We buy a lot of second hand, online items.  My wife almost furnished our whole rental in Arizona using this strategy and the place looks incredible.  I really enjoy looking for old books that way too.  In the same house, I have a French Laundry cookbook that we use as a decoration. 

Jan 25, 2022 08:54 AM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Hello Victoria Carter Guaranteed Services these are very good list of decor items to buy secondhand online.

Jan 25, 2022 08:35 PM