Splendid Things: Online Decorating Sources


It may not have escaped your notice, but I'm deep into the process of trying to make my new house look lovely. The thing about moving into a new house, I've found, is that suddenly you need five billion new things: there's more space to fill, your couch is a weird shape for the room, you get seized with wild inspiration and decide to repaint everything turquoise. (Ahem. Or maybe a slightly different turquoise from the turquoise you painted everything the first time.) Anyway, you get it: when you move into a new house, you start needing different stuff. Well, maybe you start wanting different stuff. Whichever. Probably that last one.

But where do you look? Well, if you're me, you spend an awful lot of time on Craigslist and also with your nose pressed up against the glass of a moving vehicle, scouring the sidewalks for garage sales. But man cannot live by thrifted finds alone, and I wanted to share a couple of the other websites I've been stalking since we moved into this house. I'm not getting any kickback for this, obviously, or any kind of referral credit. I just want you to know where you can find some nice things.

First of all, do you know about Houzz? My friend A'Dell turned me on to Houzz, and I can only describe it as decor porn for people obsessed with kitchen tile and lampshades. You can browse through hundreds and hundreds of pictures of other people's houses---sorting them by style, location, or room---and then save your favorites in an inspiration folder. It feels a little bit creepy and voyeuristic, but mostly it just feels really awesome. When I've exhausted the Apartment Therapy archives, this is where I go. 

I'm assuming you've heard of Overstock already, and are more than familiar with their fantastic $2.95 shipping (on everything! No matter how big it is! And sometimes they get really crazy and lower it to a DOLLAR), but you might not know about Eziba, their recently launched private sale site. It's kind of like Gilt Groupe but for home stuff, and the same deal goes for the $2.95 shipping. They curate new collections every few days; I haven't bought anything there yet, but it's always fun to look.

What I have bought, however, is a rug from RugsUSA. (Would you like to see it? It's this one, in the runner style, for our front hall.)  I'm pretty sure I've looked at every single place on the Internet that sells rugs, has sold rugs, or even occasionally thinks about selling rugs, and RugsUSA is where I've found the best selection so far. Plus the shipping is free! I even found my dream rug there the other day---this one, for the living room---but I'm waiting until it goes on sale so I don't bankrupt us.

Finally, I've put in some real quality time at, which was a site I'd never heard of until we moved into the house. I bought something from them and they started sending me all sorts of coupons in the mail, which was kind of a smart move on their part, I have to say. Apparenty they also shared my address with a site called Ballard Designs (grrrrr), which actually turned out to be not the worst thing in the world because Ballard Designs has a couple of nice-looking things too and I probably wouldn't have heard of it otherwise.  Although I'm kind of incensed that these map prints are $299 each. What? Seriously? I bought one on the side of the road for $10 the other day.

So that's where I've been browsing recently, tired of the regular old Crate & Barrel/Pottery Barn/Target/World Market/West Elm/Z Gallerie loop. Any sites I've missed? And can someone explain Etsy to me? It seems like I'd like it, but I just find it hugely, hugely overwhelming. Even with the "search" function, I still end up with three zillion pages of results. Maybe there are some particular stores within it that you'd recommend? I'm all ears.


Sep 28, 2010

I find etsy most useful if you already have something specific in mind. Like, I want an orange vintage magazine rack table - then you maybe only get 15 pages of results. Then I go through the thumbnails, opening anything that looks interesting in its own tab, and then browse through the opened tabs all at once, closing those that are instantly gross (thumbnails can be so deceiving).

Otherwise, when I get too many results, I just browse the first 10 pages and as I browse through the results, I usually end up finding more specific keywords to focus my search on. It takes some patience - kind of like TJ Maxx, but over time you do start to have favorite sellers. I love mid century modern stuff, so I have all my favorite sellers marked and I check their stores to browse when I'm not searching for specifics.

Also, Nice trendier subsidiary of Crate & Barrel. Some occasional good deals and interesting items.

Sep 28, 2010

Just a warning about home decorators -- you might think it is like IKEA or Target with their "assemble your self"-style stuff, but in my experience it is much much MUCH worse quality - falling apart quickly and not holding up to use very well. Unlike some other places (e.g., Ballard, whose things have held up to some brutal treatment in our house of kids and dogs), you really get what you pay for (or maybe not even that) at Home Decorators

Locusts and Wild Honey
Sep 28, 2010

Oh, bummer. I thought this was where you were going to announce your rates. You see, I want to HIRE YOU to make my house look nice.

Payment is the sincerest form of flattery.

I've had the most success with etsy by reading other designy blogs. Many of them do etsy roundups, which is a great starting-out place.

I'm getting all swoony at the rug website. Note to self: you are officially old.

Sep 28, 2010

I find another good way to narrow down Etsy and make it less overwhelming is to search locally. Plus, you save a lot on shipping, and you're being a little more eco-friendly.

Sep 28, 2010

Another great private sale website that deals exclusively in stuff for the home is I've found some great deals there, and they usually throw in a cute little something, like a picture frame or small candle, as a free gift when you purchase something (always a plus!).

Sep 28, 2010

Do you think it is appropriate to have a giant world map as the painting in a dining room? So far everyone thinks i am crazy. But they are "normal" LOL

Sep 28, 2010

I second Beth: I generally only use Etsy when I'm looking for something specific. One of my favorite jewelry makers is on there, though, so I browse her things regularly. I actually think you would like her things, actually; she uses vintage maps in her designs:[0]=tags&includes[1]=title

Sep 28, 2010

Quick note: your link to Eziba actually goes to Apartment Therapy.

Sep 28, 2010

Well, rats - I tried to post a link to one Etsy seller I like, but my comment was automatically flagged as spam!

Anyway, I usually use Etsy only when I have a good idea of what I'm looking for - otherwise, as you said, it's a bit overwhelming. I usually end up discovering something I like via other, more savvy folks' recommendations.

Sep 28, 2010

What? You didn't know that using the word "giclee" in an item description makes the item instantly worth $299? I thought everyone knew that!

Sep 28, 2010

I just came across this blog tonight and thought of you -

I really like the blog "Young House Love" too - a couple who are blogging about decorating their first house (in fact, now it is their full time job!)


Sep 28, 2010

i like using to sort everything (because I'm just as anal about my virtual sorting as i am in real life.) and you can follow other users to see what they pin & find online, etc. it's a great time waster on a slow day at work!

Nothing But Bonfires
Sep 28, 2010

Ursula -- it's fixed now! Thanks for the heads up.

Sep 28, 2010

I second the One Kings Lane nomination. It's AWESOME!

Tracy D
Sep 28, 2010

I LOVE!!! I'm in the same loop as you for home furnishings for my new house too (Target-Pottery Barn-Crate-Z Gallerie-Craigslist...)!

Home Decorators Collection - my husband and I jut bought a chair that looks very similar to a Pottery Barn chair that cost $150 more. The screw holes weren't in the right place, but otherwise, after my husband spent forever assembling it, it looks great. The quality is what you'd expect for the price...not fantastic, but not awful.

I just bought an awesome bed frame fom Z Gallerie on Craigslist and a really cute bistro table and chairs too! :)

Etsy is great, but they do need to improve their search's so overwhelming!

Kate (and Ben)
Sep 29, 2010

The best way to search Etsy is through specifics or by recommendations from other internet people.
Search "red antique kitchen" for instance. It does take some browsing, and if what I'm looking for ends up with a lot of results, I usually search every other page and pull up separate tabs with what looks interesting.

These are the shop names of some of my favourites (etsy shops are all one word, so no spaces if you're wanting to search):

Cheltenham Road
MC Stoneworks
The Vintageholic Frog
Pigeon Toe Ceramics
YeeHaw (<--from my hometown!!!)
Peachy Chic Boutique
BoHo Market
Books on Tape
Jacqleen Bleu

...there are so many, my Etsy bookmark list is miles long.

good luck,

Sep 29, 2010

Based on your recommendations of, I checked it out a couple months ago and found the perfect nightstand lamps for our bedroom for $49 (easily less than a third of some of the lamps I liked at other stores)! Thanks, Holly!

Sep 29, 2010

I'm shocked that you aren't an Etsy devotee.

Like Allie, I find that I can only really be productive when I want something very specific (pink toddler tutu) and it's rare that I have a want that IS specific enough. But when I do? Etsy delivers every time and always with better workmanship than I can find elsewhere.

And yes, Houzz is so awesome. What I like best about it is that it doesn't try to be ten different things. Pictures only, not a lot of blah-blah.

Simple sites are so awesome (and so rare).

Sep 29, 2010

Holy cow, I love that rug website! I can never find rugs that are even remotely close to what I might want and I've already bookmarked like 15 on there that I want. Now I just need to find a house to fit them all....

Sep 29, 2010

I don't know any other shopping websites, but I was just turned on to "pinster" which is phenomenal for putting all the bookmarks you have of inspirations from all over the web in one place! i gotta be honest here. in the box below I need to enter a code and i'm looking at it and I'm like Ok, I need to enter two exclamation points, which I promptly did, and then I freeze because I don't know where the key for the upside down exclamation point is!! Do I have a spanish option on this keyboard??? Then I realize it is an "i." I may just go write about my dimwittedness on my own blog now...

Sarah Ashley
Sep 29, 2010

First of all, I would like to thank you Holly for posting those ideas and links. I am currently an interior design student, looking for stuff outside of the Target/West Elm/Pottery Barn loop. This really helps.

I found this awesome web sight of an interior designer with her portfolio. Take a look at some of her work. It's will give you some ideas :) I promise, you will love the black room.

As far as Etsy goes, it is very overwhelming but here are a couple of "Etsy Shops" that I recommend

Sep 29, 2010

Find an Etsy shop you like and then click on that person's favorites (under their profile photo) and you'll see a lovely curated selection of products and sellers.

You can also search by color (which is a really fun interactive feature) or by treasuries (which are curated by Etsy sellers and buyers into a theme) Check out the featured seller, too. -- all of these are available off the home page.

I also check out Design*Sponge and Decor8 somewhat often as well.

Sep 30, 2010

Etsy is my best friend, forever.

Some of the lovliest things in our home are from Etsy. I find I have the best luck if I do a broad search first -- Woodblock Prints, for example. Then I find a few things I like and realize that the ones I like all use similar key words and do another search -- "Hand pulled woodblock prints". I keep narrowing down that way. If you put in the time, you'll find beautiful, fantastic things there. And I find things to be SO much less expensive than anything you could find on another website. Your maps are on Etsy somewhere, I guarantee. And not for $299 a piece.

Something I just discovered is that you can advertise for something particular that you're wanting and then sellers can bid on making the item for you. I just did this with my husband's birthday invitations (designed, printed and shipped for $30). And little monogramed toddler aprons for my daughter's birthday party ($5 each).

Good luck!

Sep 30, 2010

Thank you for the resources. Your promptness in making your house a home humbled and galvanized me. After 8 yrs in my home, I've ordered some curtains from one of the sites you mentioned.

Sep 30, 2010

This is my first time actually commenting and not merely lurking. I don't have a suggestion for a real one, but this website makes me laugh after studying all of those catalogs and staged rooms. Enjoy!

Sep 30, 2010

try for searches. WAY easier to see at a glance what might strike your fancy.

Sep 30, 2010

i agree, etsy is completely overwhelming at times!! i think the fine folks behind are very aware of the massive amounts of products listed on their site and they're working on ways to make it easier to browse... the most recent search update they've made (which i've found super helpful in my scrounging) is the "Explorer" search tool {} you can be very specific {white vintage three drawer dresser}or very vague {headboards} and still come up with a more consolidated list that is pretty easy to browse through by using thumbnail views with a "quick look" option. enjoy!

SF Reader
Sep 30, 2010

seriously on the maps price. for that you can have *actual* vintage maps.

Oct 08, 2010

On the amusing side of design-related sites, can be pretty funny.

Oct 20, 2010

I love all the places you listed. CSN also has a lot of stuff for the home. Overstock is a little tricky, you have to read the reviews very carefully because returns as a PIA. I like One Kings Lane, but I rarely buy from them. I do think my favorites is the classic TJMaxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods combo. Brick and mortar where you can browse the clearance racks with tape measure in hand. Perhaps I'll go tonight...

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