We’ll say it: There’s nothing wrong with the temptation of that curbside end table or lamp left out for the trash (that may or may not work). There’s a myth in interior design that all of your shopping should be from catalogs or in stores, the more expensive the better. If you’re like most people, your passion extends beyond the latest in-store offerings, and older, used items frequently provide more interest and pique our curiosity.
That’s why, at the core of every interior designer, there is passion. This passion should define your style and may very well include the occasional “dumpster diving.” Even if you don’t keep every piece you pick out, you are still more than just a junk collector. You may have an eye for beauty that others simply miss, or spy an opportunity to transform the mundane or forgotten into something new and beautiful with a quick coat of paint or repurposing.
This doesn’t mean that scavenging will always be the right path to design success. Certainly, upholstered items will almost always need to be new (or near new), as they offer far more (and sometimes unpleasant) mysteries. But that’s about the only limit to finding success with your forays at flea markets, garage sales, or even the aforementioned curbside pickup. This could be something as simple as a quirky picture frame or a major piece of furniture for your home.
How do you know if you’re that person? Well, has a friend ever called to let you know about a neighbor holding a moving sale, or do you find yourself scouring Craigslist for the latest curbside alerts? There’s a certain thrill unique to a finder’s mentality. This is, in part, the desire to have something that’s one of a kind. And, in most cases, picking up an old lamp or table is reaching back into the past, making use of a style or design no longer in vogue or available.
But it’s also something more. It comes back to the passion you have for design. When you find something independently and tweak it to make it right for your home, you enjoy an added sense of ownership over your interior design efforts. After all, the piece simply wouldn’t exist without your work; it would, instead, be rotting away in a nearby landfill.
That’s why we urge you to give in to your passion, even if that takes you down a few side streets from time to time. Many of the top designers share this same passion—and indulge it—which is undoubtedly part of what feeds their creativity and puts them on the leading edge of the industry. Your chance to have a great moment of innovation may be just down the street, making its way out to the curb.