Vintage pieces offer style and substance, while new furniture is scarce


Pandemic-related delays in the supply chain have caused major shortages in newly made furniture at every price point.

Indeed, more luxury consumers are turning to used items to fill their spaces.

“Vintage is hot!” said Anna Brockway, cofounder and president of curated online vintage marketplace Chairish.

“Not only is vintage furniture beloved for its chic, one-of-a-kind style, but there’s also growing appreciation for its immediate availability and sustainability,” she said.

Rising reuse

Consumers are finding it hard to live with the up-to-six-month wait for new furniture. Pre-loved pieces are now filling the void.

“I have been incorporating more vintage and antiques than normal because they are readily available,” said Denise McGaha, founder of eponymous Dallas design firm Denise McGaha Interiors.

Although delays have driven a surge in vintage buys, consumers, particularly younger ones, have also been increasingly looking to past treasures to live more sustainably.

“Research shows that sustainability is a top priority for buyers of all ages and our 2021 Chairish consumer study specifically revealed that 58 percent of millennials agreed that the resale market plays a big role in the future of sustainability,” Ms. Brockway said.

“We encourage everyone to consider vintage first when purchasing,” she said.

Reusing well-made pieces helps to reduce waste – about 12 million tons of furniture are disposed of every year in the U.S. alone, according to Chairish – and home design also benefits from having high-quality furnishings, something vintage and antique versions have in abundance.

Vintage and antique furniture adds a unique twist to home decor. Design by Denise McGaha Interiors, photo by Stephen Karlisch
Quality control

“It’s no secret that vintage furniture was built in an era where automation wasn’t as important, so many were built by hand using age old techniques,” Ms. McGaha said. “The hardware is often high quality and after years of use has a beautiful patina as well.”

There is also no shortage of places to buy older pieces, from luxury antique stores to individuals selling their own items on Facebook. Those who want to make sure their picks are the highest quality and correctly dated and priced should stick to the experts.

“Dallas has an amazing stable of dealers locally that I love to source for our projects,” Ms. McGaha, who also scores vintage finds online, said.

Chairish makes sure that all pricing is transparent and comparable to other items on the site and has a feature that allows customers to try out pieces in their rooms virtually in addition to ensuring that items it sells are represented accurately.

“Look for reputable retailers,” Ms. Brockway said. “All the items on Chairish are curated, meaning we have a team dedicated to vetting each and every piece.”

Vintage pieces of different styles can be mixed together anywhere. Design by Denise McGaha Interiors, photo by Stephen Karlisch
Mixed bag

Adding older pieces to a room is not difficult, especially when mixing different styles and eras together is somewhat the point.

“We don’t see our shoppers gravitating towards just one era but instead see them creatively mixing pieces from various periods to create one-of-a-kind spaces,” Ms. Brockway said.

The hunt is part of the fun and what will make a space unique to each homeowner. Finding interesting furniture is that much more likely when consumers are shopping outside of a showroom or catalog and are putting extra thought into each piece they buy.

“Pieces that do really well are ones that pop!” Ms. Brockway said. “Think beautifully upholstered velvet seating, patterned fabrics, bright and lacquered tables, and anything with a unique shape, whether sculptural or figural.”

The best rooms artfully combine pieces of varying sizes, shapes, styles and eras, while keeping scale in mind.

“I consider incorporating vintage furnishings into a room like hosting the perfect dinner party,” Ms. McGaha said.

“You would never invite guests that are all alike – it really gets fun when you have guests of different age groups and different interests to really make it interesting,” she said. “A great room should be just the same.”