If you’ve been looking around your home and itching to make a change, you’re not alone. There’s no better opportunity to refresh or redecorate your space than when you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it, understanding how it functions in new ways. If you’re looking to mix things up and invest in something that will last, buying a secondhand statement piece is a great way to do so sustainably and to support small business owners.
On a mission to help people love where they live, the duo behind New Jersey–based Tri-State Modern source, restore, and curate vintage and contemporary furniture. Owners Sean Viola and Zeus Caballero offered up tips on picking something special.
“1stdibs has a library of pieces if you’re ready to spend the money. Whereas if you want to shop a curated look, find specific dealers or vendors on Instagram,” Caballero recommends. It can be helpful to establish a relationship with a local dealer—which cuts on delivery cost—or someone with a storefront too.
Shopping Craigslist and estate sales is riskier in terms of condition or replicas (and even pests). Though it’s rare, “There are gems out there for amazing prices. The tricky part is being able to get to them before anyone else,” Viola said. That’s where your vendors come in. They have access to smaller or private collectors and can keep a lookout for your desires.
You can research and cross-reference ways to authenticate pieces using 1stdibs, Reddit threads, and Facebook furniture identification groups, but Caballero and Viola say the best way to study an original is finding the vintage advertisement.
Caballero flags wood grain and the joinery of a chair as two places to differentiate originals from replicas. “We try to stay away from things that have replicated a lot,” like the Eames lounge chair, Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer, or the George Nelson bench. Increased reproduction equates decreased value, and you don’t want to overpay for a replica.
Once you’ve made your purchase, the guys recommend Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Conditioner and Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner to clean and keep your new old pieces fresh. Finally, their biggest takeaways: Always negotiate and “don’t buy IKEA!”