“A few years ago, I hired a guide for the Paris antiques auctions. When a groovy guy in aviator goggles with a coyote throw over his shoulders pulled up to the Hôtel Costes on a Vespa, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into! But I heard that he had private access to lots filled with incredible estate merchandise, and that he could negotiate in French. I decided to bid on several items, including a dusty Louis Vuitton trunk that made my heart race. In the end, I couldn’t part with it—so for years it served as a coffee table in my Park City, Utah, home, until I finally let it go to a special client. I think of that crazy trip every time I see it.” —Barclay Butera, Barclay Butera Interiors
“The first vintage piece I ever bought was a turquoise resin drop chandelier from the 1950s. It was back in the very early days of 1stdibs, and there was something so irresistible about the color and shape. That fixture followed me around San Francisco—in my dining room, then at our first office—and now currently resides in my kitchen in Seattle. Once photos of it hanging in our office hit Pinterest, we had dozens of inquiries from people who wanted to purchase it or a copy of it, but I’ve never seen another one exactly like it. The calls and emails continue to this day!” —Julie Massucco Kleiner, Massucco Warner Miller
“When I first moved to the West Coast, I was working as a sample librarian at a fabric showroom in Portland and trying to make it as an interior designer. One morning, I found copies of Billy Baldwin Decorates and Billy Baldwin Remembers in a vintage shop for $4 each. A few months later, when I brought them to the office to show my boss, he noticed that the name on the inside cover of both books, written in old-lady cursive, was none other than the Dorothy Draper. I took it as a sign that this is what I was meant to do—and I still have those books in my library!” —Brian Paquette, Brian Paquette Interiors
“While shopping in New England, I came across a 20th-century European cabinet with bleached wood and painted doors. It needed lots of work, but something about it intrigued me, so I purchased the piece and took it straight to my restorer. Not only did the piece look like a treasure, it was a treasure—a signed cabinet by [Jules] Leleu. I went on to find the original documentation for the piece, including photos from the original interior for which it was commissioned. While it is now sitting in the dining room of a client’s home, I still get great satisfaction in seeing it on occasion.” —Phillip Thomas, Phillip Thomas Inc.
“My favorite find was a Tawaraya (Boxing Ring) [bed, designed by Masanori Umeda of the Memphis design collaborative]. I was at an art dealer’s house in Kansas City, Missouri, my hometown, and he had just built this amazing house with all these built-ins, but there was no room for the ring. I told him if he ever planned to sell it, I would be interested in taking it off his hands. He called me a few weeks later and I had it shipped to Los Angeles, where I use it as a bed in my son’s room. It’s a great conversation piece.” —Trip Haenisch, Trip Haenisch & Associates
“Recently, I found a vintage bamboo bar cart on Etsy that was located in Toronto, Canada. I had planned to have it shipped to Nantucket, Massachusetts, for our little cottage, but shipping was absurdly overpriced. Instead, the vendor popped it on a Greyhound bus to New York, where it was dutifully delivered to my office door. From there, I drove it up and brought it over on the ferry with me! It’s the perfect addition to our little beach house, and has a great story to go with it.” —Tharon Anderson, Tharon Anderson Design
“When I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a few years ago, I found this amazing tortoise-finish box made out of tobacco leaves. We bought it for a client at an amazing price—less than $100. I loved it and wanted it for myself, but knew that it was the perfect accessory for this particular client’s home. A couple of years later, I saw the box’s near-twin at a high-end antiques shop for several thousand dollars!” —Summer Thornton, Summer Thornton Design
“We once scored a set of Jacques Guillon cord chairs at the Brimfield Antique Flea Market. The dealer clearly had no idea what he had on his hands, so he let them go for a song. We put them in our Los Angeles shop, where they were purchased by a local set designer. We’re pretty sure those chairs made an appearance in a recent Academy Award–winning movie.” —Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone, Consort Design