How design experts shop more thoughtfully today

At a time when we’re buying for our homes more than ever, Editorial Director Joanna Saltz spoke with five experts about how to do it more thoughtfully — for the land, sellers, our homes and our families.

Joanna Saltz: People are shopping for their home more than ever, whether it’s for a quality home office chair or new throw pillows. How have you seen buying habits change over the past two years?

Corey Damen Jenkins: Before the pandemic, we were very dependent on going to showrooms, fairs and all the different sources of antiquity to look at the pieces in person – to feel the fabrics and touch the frames, to be able to be a true endorser visual of a product for customers. When the pandemic hit, we became more comfortable not just shopping online, but reaching out to sellers and asking really pointed questions, or asking for more photos, so we could get as much detail as possible. I was pleased to see so many sellers and dealers willing to get more than the normal amount of information because they realized we weren’t going to be able to physically come in and look at their pieces. Thanks to this approach, we have made very good purchases.

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I often shopped locally with my customers so they could see and feel the dining chair they wanted. We weren’t able to do that as much, so I continued to use my go-to online sources like 1stDibs and Chairish. He had his challenges, but we all adapted and came out on top.

Marguerite Schwartz: As a dealer, we also had to adapt. Generally, I go to Europe to buy. It was a huge change for me. I only started buying virtually in January 2021. It was hard to remember to ask the right questions, to get photos from all angles. Over time, the people I worked with understood what I was looking for. It’s been a big learning curve for me, and I know a lot of other dealerships have struggled with it. We’re all super excited to get back and, you know, go through dirty barns again.

Joe: From my perspective, it seems like retailers are also getting better at creating a better shopping experience on their sites. You start seeing more photos and videos of things, where you can see how the tissues move. Some retailers have started mimicking that in-person experience as best they can. But I also think you’re all talking about trust, which is so important when it comes to shopping. How do you develop this trust?

corey damen jenkins headshot

Maggie Holladay: This can be stressful, especially when working with resellers overseas, because you don’t know if a seller is really good at creating counterfeits or bought tags from eBay. But getting a feel for a dealership’s personality is helpful while doing your own research. You really need to understand what you are looking to buy.

Joe: Absolutely. When it comes to that trust, as well as the supply chain and fast fashion issues in the home decor world, I think people are now willing to invest more in good quality pieces because they wait longer to get them or want their items to last. Do you think we are witnessing the end of disposable teleshopping?

Maggie: It will never disappear, but it is decreasing. People see the value of premium quality and they want to have a cool piece in their house to show off to their friends. They realize, Why would I spend $5,000 on a coffee table and side table when I can spend $5,000 on a chair that I can resell in five years or reupholster to give it new life for years to come?


Anna Liesemeyer: I love the challenge of finding something to reuse, and this doesn’t have to be new to you. You can reuse what you already own and love, even if it’s a vase for five consecutive years. Beyond that, I’ve personally challenged myself over the past few years to look more at Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, and antique stores, whether for items to reuse or use as is. It’s like a treasure hunt. It helps to look for rooms that reflect you and your family, instead of making your home look like a carbon copy of someone else’s.

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Liesemeyer has given this thrifty kids kitchen set a dreamy makeover.

Joseph Bradshaw

Daisy : I’m excited to see what craftsmanship emerges from this move away from disposable, including new finishes and technologies. Hopefully there will be a real boom.

Corey: In 2020, the country also went through a lot of social issues. The fight for high quality change has become a priority for our country and for the planet. The emphasis on creating generational wealth and capital for all is not just about cash or the actual finances of the bank, but also about furniture, antique china and other pieces passed down from generation to generation. generation. Many of my clients teach their children that they already have a surplus of beautiful things in their homes and don’t need to buy more – Grandma’s splashback looks beautiful and will work. It’s sustainable and it’s a better way to appreciate what we have.

Joe: I like this. And when customers want new items, how do you get them to spend a little more on quality?

portrait kirschner

Jenny: I usually give personal examples. I have a vintage Baker dining set that has been in my family for over 40 years. My parents bought it at an estate sale for, I think, $500 for a set of eight chairs and a dining table that seats 16 and a sideboard. We’ve reupholstered the chairs six times now, and they’re still in pristine condition! They have also been re-upholstered once or twice and are still as comfortable as ever. Thing is, someone paid a fortune for this set and my parents bought it. Now I have them, and they still last. I tell my clients that a custom or investment piece will cost them now, but they can reuse it over and over and over again. They can pass it on to their children. It’s going to carry them through the ages, because it’s such a good quality compared to something that’s going to break down in three years and you’re going to have to keep replacing it.

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A living room designed by Kirschner hosts treasures found on Chairish.

Chris Mottalini

Joe: How do you know which parts last a long time?

Anna: It’s a learning curve. You can check certain aspects, as if it is real wood, and go to trusted manufacturers. Investing in small business owners for custom parts can also ensure you get something personalized and that will last. We actually hired a local carpenter to make our custom family table, and I think people were shocked when they asked where we got the table and found out we had invested in a small business owner. Investing in local manufacturers is something we’re more aware of due to the pandemic, but it’s also a way to ensure you get a part that works well for your family – that’s different from parts in other houses – and that you can pass on.

holiday portrait

Joe: That’s a huge part of it. The internet gives you access to so many small manufacturers. So what is one change you wish people would make in their buying habits?

Daisy : Always buy the best quality you can afford. You will never regret it. I would also like people to ask a lot of questions when they are with us. Ask me as many questions as you have. I’ll answer everything to the best of my knowledge, and I’m happy to do so. Especially as stockists, we want to talk about our items all day, so don’t hesitate to ask!

Jenny: Recycle or restore older parts instead of buying brand new ones. Some customers are worried that there is something wrong with antique or vintage pieces or they are dirty. I always let them know that any room can be beautiful. We can upgrade and restore it if needed.

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Claude Home, founded by Holladay, sells vintage pieces like these groovy Pierre Paulin chairs.

Claude Home

Corey: We are going through a historic moment. Be kind, be patient, and show everyone involved in your project a measure of grace. If you work with an interior designer, know that we do not hold your furniture hostage. We don’t want to keep this stuff. No one wants you to have your furniture more than us. We want to complete your project and move on to our next client project. Recognize that this pandemic has been like a pebble hitting water and the ripple effects are enormous. The supply chain is causing delays and everything is out of stock. The world isn’t going against you, it’s not Mercury retrograde all year. We are all working on it.

portrait of schwartz

Maggie: It’s not a race. I have so many people moving in a month who want everything fully decorated when they get there. It takes time to build and invest in items for your dream home. Find a room you like and decorate around it. Sometimes after moving into a house, the style you want may change after two weeks of living. You might want to go for a farmhouse or a mid-century look instead of your original design intent. Do not rush.

Anna: Buy from online antique markets if possible, or look at what you already have to breathe new life into it. Upgrade your home!

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Modern Antiquarian, Schwartz’s antique store, offers pieces like this 19th-century Swedish chest of drawers.

Susana Lopez

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