From Second Hand to Vintage


How to Transform Second-Hand into Vintage


It’s Saturday afternoon. You’re on your way to that ultra-cheap second-hand shop that people have been raving about. You’re excited to finally find a cute set of vintage glassware for your kitchen table or a chic set of antique curtains for your bedroom. Then you arrive, see more Mickey Mouse® images, ceramic ivy, and used cork boards than you’ve seen in your entire lifetime, and want to cry. Your dream of cheaply decorating your house is out the (curtain-less) window.


Not so fast! Before you head to Ikea, know that it is possible to transform “second-hand junk”, into “vintage finds.” It all starts with the selection of your store, and this brings us to rule one:


Follow the Old Folks


Old people. Bless their hearts. They keep things forever, take wonderful care of them, and are willing to bring these impeccably maintained pieces to resale shops. If you can sniff out a shop in your area frequented by an older set, you will be more likely to find the quality and the age you need in the items.


Don’t Judge a Piece by Its Surroundings


We all fall into this trap. You enter the store, take a broad survey of the space, find it not up to snuff, and walk out and down the street to Target. STOP! Get back in here. With second-hand stores, you can’t be broad or general in your judgments. Sure, there’s a lot of crap, but you won’t find those couple treasures unless you look at each piece individually. If it helps, bring along a photo of the space you are looking to decorate, so that you can imagine your piece there instead of amidst mountains of junk.


Make It Work


You’ve brought your dearly-earned purchase home, but once there, cannot fathom where to place it. Perhaps it appears frivolous next to your utilitarian Ikea furniture, or primitive sitting beside your Alexa. This is where the transformation from second-hand into vintage truly begins. When integrating an older piece into your modern home, consider showcasing the following:


Color. Does the item have a unique color? Color trends change constantly, and in your second-hand treasure, you may find tones, textures, and patterns that you can showcase.


Age. Rather than force your item to grow up, consciously place it near modern pieces as a statement. It will add texture and intrigue to your room.


Alterations. You have the power to change your purchases! There is way more online about altering antiques than I could ever capture in this post, so if you’re in need of inspiration, browse through EtsyPinterest, or check out


And remember: less is more. Leave space for the pieces to be noticed. Let them take up more room than they physically occupy.


Oof. Why did this get so conceptual? Because I want you to feel empowered to create precisely the kind of home you want. Buying second-hand doesn’t mean you’re stuck with junky, passé furnishings. It gives you the opportunity to create a space that is utterly, uniquely you.





Bailey Holtz is a comedian and writer based in Chicago. She performs at iO, and sketch at The Second City. Her writing has been featured on The Second City Network.


She’s a graduate of the Harold Ramis Film School, the world’s only comedy-specific film program. She recently wrote, produced, and starred in a short film entitled Jammy Spaceplace!. She has a penchant-turned-love-turned-obsession for 1960s and 70s pop culture.


Find her work at