I have a friend outfitting her first home with her husband and she told me recently that she’s came home with something she thought would fit their style and had to return it so often that she’s just used to that part of the home decor shopping process.  Obviously, with secondhand purchases, the return process is not nearly as easy as driving to a store, so it’s important you know your style when you enter the store so you can easily decide if something will work in your house as is, or with some adjustments, before you make the investment.

1.) Consultation is key

Especially when buying for a living space you share, an emailed picture of a potential purchase — or dragging a person along for the ride — can be a lifesaver. I’m lucky because Kyle and I have nearly identical tastes. There have been times where we’ve gotten it wrong but in general I know when I love something that he’ll love it and vice versa.

When we bought this industrial bench for our bedroom, I spotted it from across the store and thought “We’re going to want that” but didn’t say anything — I’ve learned it’s bad strategy to point out something across the room that I like because it means I miss all of the booths between here and there. When we got to the booth at our own speed, Kyle stopped in front of it and, sure enough, it was destined to be ours.

2.) Don’t get too attached

In February, Kyle and I bought a harvest table because we found one that was at a great price and we had been thinking about getting a harvest table. We got it home to decide that it maybe wasn’t the direction we were heading in the kitchen, wouldn’t commit to it enough to buy chairs for it during the last four months, and ultimately replaced it with an entirely different style of table this spring.

I think it’s important to recognize that something that’s working for you just may not work for someone else. I thought that if we got it some chairs, we would start to really like the harvest table, but Kyle just wasn’t ready to make that commitment. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there would be some benefits to getting a table that was in a little better condition and easier to clean. Now that we’ve found the right table for our kitchen, I’m so glad that I didn’t put my foot down and commit to the old table.

3.) Take a leap

If either of us need to make a quick decision we can do it within an acceptable margin of error. We’re also lucky because our style is very, ahem, eclectic so we can make a lot of different styles or periods of furniture come together into one great space. A few weeks ago, we picked up a Moviegraph vintage projector at an antique store. Kyle was shopping for new furniture with our friend at the store next door  and I dragged him over to look at this find. He somehow got distracted on the walk so I bought it without consultation.

Good news, Kyle loves it as much or more than I do. And, surprise, it works!

4.) Give in a Little

If sharing tastes does not succeed, compromise a little. Kyle didn’t exactly understand my tea pot collection but as it started to fill up the shelving above our kitchen cabinets, he saw the utility. Kyle’s style is probably more fun than mine so occasionally I find myself bidding on some letter blocks at an auction or scoring a sweet magnetic message board at an estate sale.

It turns out compromise is often a win-win.

For the last few weeks, Mary and I have been sharing our advice for choosing secondhand furniture. We’ve both written about why we prefer to buy secondhand: here and here.  And I shared some advice for keeping your excitement for a potential piece in check in my post Reality vs. Vision. Last week, Mary passed along everything she knows about Recognizing Quality while thrifting furniture.

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So Eclectic is a blog dedicated to great ideas for home design. Austin, Texas-based writer Mary Marcum and Savannah, Missouri-based writer Jess Rezac feature affordable decor, decorating solutions, and inspiration. At So Eclectic, we experiment with design together. So Eclectic posts new content every weekday.

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