I Furnished My Entire Living Room for Less Than $2K
Beginning with a $500 Facebook Marketplace sofa.
Published Sep 30, 2023 1:30 AM
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In this economy, you’re lucky if you find a decent sofa for $1,500, let alone manage to furnish an entire room at that price. But Justice Quinn, who runs his own interior design firm, can count himself among the fortunate few who did precisely that. When he and his wife relocated from a sprawling ranch home to a 1,300-square-foot builder-grade in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they turned to Facebook Marketplace to stay within their tight budget. The platform has always been a trusted resource for the designer. “I was on Marketplace really early,” says Quinn. “I’m talking six to seven years ago.”
What makes this transformation even more impressive is that it isn’t filled with the rejects of moving sales. Over the years, Quinn has honed his ability to spot high-quality vintage pieces. “I trained my eye by searching estate sales and buying furniture that was convincing, then doing the research to date it,” he says. “I pulled everything in that living room from Facebook Marketplace for ridiculous prices.” The leather Maralunga two-seater by Vico Magistretti, for example, could easily go for over $4,000 on a secondhand e-commerce platform, but Quinn scored his for under $500. In his own words, he gives us the scoop on exactly how he pulled off his $1,500 living room.
Plaster Makes Perfect
We started out planning to plaster over just the fireplace because we knew that would update the house. My good friend Shawn from Organic Finishes came in and started touching up the walls, and he’s like, “Dude, let me put some plaster down.” So we let him do the whole room.
We didn’t do too much to the rest, but the wood beam overhead had an ugly stain, so we went over it with White Dove paint and it really softened the room. We also had really bad builder-grade fixtures, like an early-2000s one that had to go, so we also swapped out all the others. I found this massive chandelier that came out of a Catholic church in Wichita, Kansas, that I got for about $100 and then had it custom painted. It’s absolutely unreal.
Take It Slow
I collected all of the living room furniture over the past few years—they’re pieces that have flown through my hands and didn’t end up in a client project. It was the perfect storm, because we moved into a small house and we had enough to furnish it immediately.
When it comes to my work with clients, they want vintage, they want curated, but they also understand the timeline of working like that. I probably spend 50 percent of my time buying from estate sales, Facebook Marketplace, and local individuals. And the other 50, I get to work with the connections that I’ve made with local dealers and makers. I’ve found most of the time, by working with local craftsmen and tradesmen, I’ve been able to beat the timelines of the big-box stores.
Trust Your Eye
I have an early-20th-century antique cabinet in the corner of the living room with beautiful hand-etched details and Jean Prouvé taper-style legs on it. I bought that for $10 and it’s my favorite piece of furniture right now. Too many people try to buy what they think would be cool, and my approach has always been to buy what convinces my eye. If I get it and the quality is there, then I start doing the research to see when and where it was designed. Rarely do I buy something just because I know it’s by a certain designer—it’s all about trusting your gut.
When that chocolate leather Vico Magistretti sofa popped up on Facebook Marketplace, I knew it wasn’t the type of piece you’d find in the Midwest, so I offered to pay the seller more than he asked. I think he was blown away by that.
When you’re reaching out to sellers on these platforms, you have a small window, maybe one or two sentences, so I tell people what I do, that I love their item, and I usually try to pay a little extra. I love to do that when I can because I buy stuff really at that bottom level when it almost doesn’t even look appealing. But through restoration, some new fabric, or a little reshaping and restitching, we can bring things back to life. Maybe I shouldn’t be paying extra, but I think somehow it’ll come back around. I keep finding amazing furniture, so it’s working for me.