Pawing through cardboard boxes in search of cheap and dusty treasures used to be a pretty easy outdoor pastime in New York, before real-estate fever put the neighborhood flea markets on the endangered list. Now, thrift stores and indoor collectives are the new flea markets, and it takes expertise to know where to dig. A team of eclectically inclined design experts gave us their most fruitful resources for good home décor. Some are surprising (Urban Outfitters?), and others are more investment than opportunity, but all provide the pleasure of the scavenger hunt. And they’re almost all indoors.
Beyond the Bosporus
79 Sullivan St., nr. Spring St.; 212-219-8257
Go here for: Turkish kilims, rug restoration and cleaning.
What’s there right now: Decorators particularly like the inexpensive pillows that Rosemari Basbagi (wife of owner Ismail Basbagi) makes from kilims and Congolese embroidered raffias. They start at $30.
City Opera Thrift Shop
222 E. 23rd St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-684-5344
Go here for: Furniture donations of decent quality. You probably won’t find a mid-century Danish treasure here, but the selection is solid, if old-fashioned, and includes sofas, tables, and dressers. The window displays, created by students from the School of Visual Arts across the street, are as sophisticated as anything you’ll see in midtown.
What’s there right now: Lillian Shore sculptures from $250, a leather lounge chair with ottoman by Ekornes for $550.
Green Village Used Furniture and Clothes
276 Starr St., nr. St. Nicholas Ave., Bushwick; 718-456-8844
Go here for: A full day. The 10,000 square feet of miscellaneous junk draw seasoned thrifters and prop stylists.
What’s there right now: Turn-of-the-past-century oak cabinets for $300, fifties-era wardrobe closets from $95 to $125, unusual desks for $65 to $70, various leather trunks from the thirties, a mid-century mahogany bedroom set for $495.
A Repeat Performance
156 First Ave., nr. 10th St.; 212-529-0832
Go here for: Mid-century furniture, Hoosier cabinets, lighting fixtures, and antique oddities like cameras and telephones.
What’s there right now: A Heywood-Wakefield sideboard for $600, a pair of string Eames chairs for $80, a modern maple desk and chair for $300.
The Vintage Thrift Shop
286 Third Ave., nr. 22nd St.; 212-871-0777
Go here for: A steady supply of mid-century and contemporary furniture that usually requires at least a little rehabbing, and a large selection of clothing neatly hung (no digging necessary). It’s run by a Jewish organization, so it’s closed on Saturdays.
What’s there right now: A seventies chrome-and-glass étagère for $175, several sixties solid-cherry bookshelves for $150 each, and, at the top of the scale, a Jens Risom sofa for $2,900.
628 Broadway, nr. Bleecker St. 212-475-0009
Go here for: Decorative touches like rugs and throw pillows. Yes, it’s a chain store, but the design sensibility is Pop mixed with retro, the flow of new merchandise is constant, and the prices are rock-bottom; items start at $28.
Boca Grande Furnishings
54 Greene St., at Broome St. 212-226-8766
Go here for: Simple, large-scale rustic rosewood and teak furniture that suits spare New York apartments and goes with just about any décor. The styles don’t vary much, so you can count on certain pieces always being in stock (and right now there’s a sale).
What’s there right now: Expandable dining table with leaves, marked down to $2,200; a rosewood cabinet, marked down to $1,199; a rosewood-and-glass sideboard, marked down to $2,700.
The Demolition Depot
216 E. 125th St., nr. Third Ave. 212-860-1138
Go here for: Vintage bathroom fixtures, like claw-foot tubs and forties-era mirrored-metal medicine cabinets, as well as grand pieces retrieved from old homes, like elaborately carved wooden ceilings and columns.
What’s there right now: A marble tub, from $6,500; mirrored medicine cabinets, from $75; wood fireplace mantels, from $250.
55 Wooster St., at Broome St. 212-966-0650
Go here for: Twentieth-century lamps from America and Italy, illustrative art by the likes of Cecil Beaton.
What’s there right now: A thirties American wrought-iron lamp with a mica shade for $2,800, a sixties American floor lamp for $1,350.
In Days of Old
357 Atlantic Ave., nr. Hoyt St., Boerum Hill; 718-858-4233
Go here for: Victorian-era furniture and bric-a-brac.
What’s there right now: While this store came enthusiastically recommended by one of our experts, its hours are unpredictable, so call before going.
Olde Good Things
124 W. 24th St., nr. Sixth Ave. 212-989-8401
Go here for: Chandeliers and sconces from old-world hotels, furniture from throughout the ages, even tile and sinks.
What’s there right now: Turn-of-the-past-century marble mantels, from $2,500; walnut doors from brownstones, from $2,500. Olde Good will also make tables to order from recycled barn wood, starting at $750.
123 Mercer St., nr. Prince St.; 212-966-4390
Go here for: Twentieth-century rarities like a Noguchi table or a Deco-period jukebox.
What’s there right now: A fifties Formica-and-brass bar for $2,500 with matching stools for $250 each, a Nakashima-like rosewood coffee table for $600.
222 E. 44th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-450-7988
Go here for: High-quality vintage furniture. The 70 dealers here are all legit, and sell well-curated furniture in excellent condition from around the world. The twentieth-century offerings are most impressive. Some pieces might go up to five figures, but you’re getting an heirloom for thousands less than you’d pay in a gallery or at an auction house.
What’s there right now: A fifties French lounge chair in the style of Neutra for $8,500.
WHERE TO SPRUCE UP YOUR FINDS
225 W. 37th St., nr. Seventh Ave., sixteenth fl.; 212-719-5153
Go here for: An enormous selection of upholstery and curtain fabrics, which the staff will happily cut swatches of. You can also have your order delivered. Custom sewing (curtains, throw pillows, dog beds) is also available.
543 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Union St., Williamsburg; 718-782-7141
A coat of paint is the fastest way to clean up a junk-shop find. Panelists Vichnevsky and Weddle like this small shop for the personal, attentive service and fine-tuned custom-blending of colors.
Their favorites: Sizzling Haute (red), Night Navy, and Sun Coast (yellow) by California Paint; Cotton Ball (white) and, for eggshell finish, White Sand by Benjamin Moore. Paints start at about $11 per gallon.
55 Washington St., nr. Front St., Dumbo; 718-643-2827
Panelist Coleman recommends this shop for restoring junk-shop furniture. Prices start at $520 for a chair, $720 for a sofa.
The Panel of Experts
Interior designers Sheila Bridges, Christopher Coleman, David Easton, Steven Sclaroff, and Dolores Suarez and Caroline Grant; Gerald Nixon, owner of Mr. Pink; Michelle and Daniel Lehmann, owners of Clio; Natalie Vichnevsky and Dennis Weddle, owners of Golden Calf; Keith Johnson, antiques director and buyer for Anthropologie; and Benoist Drut, co-owner of Maison Gerard gallery.