8 Surprising Places Designers Shop For Decor

When it comes to finding just the right piece, decorators will search far and wide.

As a homes editor at Southern Living, I spend a lot of time looking at beautifully decorated homes and asking designers where they find things. (Getting to pose questions not typically suited for polite conversation, like ”Where’d you find that?” and “How many square feet is the house?,” is a perk of the job to be sure). So where do the designers shop? Lest you think it’s all trade shows in New York and swanky boutiques on the streets of Paris, think again. The places designers shop for decor might surprise you—and some of them may be spots you already frequent. 

Laura Kay Living Room


Vintage Stores and Antique Malls

“I never get tired of scouring pieces from local antique shops and or malls, especially when traveling,” says Atlanta decorator Laura Jenkins. “Often, more regional shops cater to their typical clientele who might prefer different goods than what you are hunting for, which can often result in a good deal!”

Estate Sales

Designers will search high and low for just the right piece, so they’re all about scouring estate sales for hidden gems. “If you love the thrill of the hunt, you'll have the most fun here,” says Isabel Ladd, a Lexington, Kentucky, designer. “But they're also great places to get creative. An old globe can be made into a table lamp for a child's bedroom, a big basket can be wired to be a pendant light, and the sky's the limit when it comes to upholstering or refinishing well-made furniture.”

Garden Shops

Don’t discount your local garden shop or nursery for home accessories, as many sell small goods in addition to plants and flowers. Charlotte, North Carolina, decorator Gray Walker’s go-to is a family-owned spot in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston: “Abide A While is a unique garden shop where I can find unexpected stone sculptural pieces to place in my garden or even on a lucite stand on a bookshelf.”

Social Media 

Next time you’re scrolling, make an effort to seek out individuals and shops selling vintage and antique pieces online. “I have found and connected with so many vintage and antique dealers over the years through Instagram,” says Jenkins. “Whether it be small goods, art, or furniture, it has been a great way to access shops across the country that I never would have known about unless I’d been to that destination.” 

Big Box Stores

While it’s great to shop small and local when you’re able, there’s no denying that affordability and convenience are also important factors to consider as you furnish and decorate your home. “I have had a lot of luck with sourcing accessories and home decor items from Target, Amazon, and Home Depot online, especially when I need something in a pinch for an install or photo shoot,” says Covington, Louisiana, designer Megan Evans. “I love a mix of high and low, and if you dig deep enough on these sites you can find some great tabletop pieces, glassware, and accessories. When you pair these items back with designer textiles and custom furnishings, they will fool even the most discerning eye!"

Artisan Marketplaces

Whether perusing a local crafts fair or shopping online, it’s always a good idea to support small makers. “We have a lot of luck on Etsy.com and Wescover.com,” says Austin decorator Kristen Nix. “Both have artisan-made items that add a unique, handcrafted element to a space.”

Museum Shops

Don’t discount a pit stop in the gift shop. “I love exploring museum shops whenever I visit, as there are so many unique gifts, from home goods to books and art,” says Jenkins. “Of course, with those like MoMa, you can also shop online.”

The Great State of Texas

Folks aren’t just traveling to the Lone Star State for honky-tonks and breakfast tacos; the interior design scene there is stellar too, from highly curated Dallas spots to treasure-littered pastures in Round Top. “I was just in Dallas with Maggie Jones, a Texas native on my design team, and the saying rings true that everything is bigger in Texas, shopping included,” notes Richmond, Virginia, designer Elly Poston Cooper. “Between a visit to Meredith Ellis's lovely shop, James Showroom; Wolf Hall, a dreamy antique store owned by Ann Schooler; and the huge variety at Ann Sacks tile, we’ll definitely be returning.” 

Another surprising spot in Dallas to score fun home goods? Rise No 1, a souffle restaurant. “That’s my favorite unexpected place to shop for small household items like kitchenware, says Jean Liu, a designer who lives and works in Dallas. “The owner has a great collection of glassware and tea towels for every occasion.”  

Beyond the city limits, there’s also the state’s heralded antiques hub, Round Top, which hosts three shows every year. “We love our annual trips to Round Top—countless treasures to find there,” says Jason Bell, Design Director of Blackberry Farm Design in Walland, Tennessee

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