Published on January 20, 2020

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Photography by Sara Tramp for Emily Henderson Design

When it happens, I almost always feel like I’m in an action movie. Time is of the essence and I have to figure out a code, or decide which wire to cut, or locate the button that will help my comrades complete the mission at hand. But the stakes, in reality, aren’t actually that high. All I’m doing, I admit, is shopping on Instagram.

Why the adrenaline rush? Allow me to explain: Over the past few years, I’ve made a habit of buying vintage—first clothes, more recently home goods—on the photo-sharing app. And shopping on Instagram is different than surfing Etsy or even browsing a flea market for a few reasons. On the platform, time is of the essence and every other scroller is competition.

Before developing this habit, I was one to belabor most of my home purchases. I thought about buying my orange velvet sofa for two months before I pulled the trigger. I considered buying a console the entire summer before deciding to instead rework the one I already had. But vintage is different (“nothing haunts us like the vintage we didn’t buy,” goes an adage I’ve now seen on sandwich boards and social media over and over again), and when you’re considering decorative items, typically under $100, the risks aren’t that high.

So I developed a method: The moment I spot something I like (a rug or a knitting bag, for instance) on an account like @noihsaf_home, I act quickly before someone else buys it in the comments, and I (swiftly) ask myself the following: Will the item add value to my space? Will it make me happy? Will I feel a pang of regret if someone else comments before me? Am I willing to pay the price for something that I know I can’t return? If the answer to all of those questions is yes (as it was for the aforementioned rug and knitting bag), I comment or DM and buy it.

Impulse shopping gets a bad rap, but I’m convinced that my quick-fire purchases are actually a good thing. For one, it forces me to ask myself questions that I might not normally consider if I knew I could just make a return. Also, if I’m willing to purchase something within a minute of seeing it, I know that I’ll be usually satisfied with my purchase. (My instincts haven’t failed me yet.) And finally, when I shop on Instagram, I’m not just shopping, I’m winning. And that feels good.

If I’m on the fence about an item, I like to leave things to fate. Wait five minutes, I’ll say to myself, and if someone else has bought it by then, it wasn’t meant to be. If I still want the item and it’s still up for grabs, then I’ll make my move. By shopping this way, I’ve made purchases that, bit by bit, have made my home feel even more special. In fact, I’d buy most of them over again—in an instant.

See more stories like this:
These Cool Instagram Interiors Are 100% Shoppable
Love Vintage Home Decor? Follow These Instagram Accounts
Team Domino’s Favorite Under-the-Radar Decor Shops

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