Sure, the slick furniture and appointments in the glossy magazine spreads are just fab, but who can afford a whole house full of that stuff? If "not me" is the answer, fear not. Now, you can look like you had a trust fund all along by tapping into the area's top consignment shops.
We're not talking the junk shops in the iffy neighborhoods here (although these, too, can yield some treasures to the adventurous): From lamps and living room rugs to antique reproductions and Art Deco, the best of these shops serve up gently used furniture and accessories at deep discounts.
Where do you find these places? We did the work for you. Read on.
Belle cose means "beautiful things" in Italian, which is what you'll find at this store in the heart of what could be dubbed Timonium's consignment row. Distinguished by its friendly and helpful service, Belle Cose features upscale resale items by name-brand furniture makers such as Domain and Ethan Allen. They also carry a nice inventory of outdoor furnishings. If you need a special accessory, Belle Cose does carry some new items like guest towels, jewelry, and purses. They also provide monogramming services to put some personal panache in your abode.
1933 Greenspring Drive, Timonium, 410-308-4885, www.bellecosellc.com
Home Again has a little bit of everything, which makes it a great one-stop destination. The front of the shop has new gift items like soaps, candles, and journals, and a wide selection of new children's games and books, as well as jewelry. You can buy silverplate for a steal and china tchotkes, too. But the bulk of the store is full of large furnishings. There's plenty of tradition to choose from: Imagine dining room chairs with needlepoint seats and a Statton highboy. But what really sets apart Home Again is its eye for high-quality mid-century modern finds like a leather Wassily chair and a green lacquered credenza from the 1960s.
6719 York Road, Towson, 410-377-3067, www.thehomeagainstore.com
Clearing House Ltd.
If traditional is your thing, Clearing House Ltd. should be on your list. Sisters Lisa Hudson and Cara Derr are the second generation to run this 30-year-old business, which also does brisk sales in vintage and estate jewelry (including Miriam Haskell designs coveted by collectors), silver flatware, accessories, and china. Shoppers line up hours early on the first Wednesday after Labor Day for Clearing House's annual tented sidewalk sale when old inventory is sold at yard-sale prices to benefit The House of Ruth.
200 W. Padonia Road, Timonium, 410-561-4546, www.clearinghouseltd.com
Consign By Design/Curiozity Shoppe
These two businesses joined forces and relocated in Timonium (but don't be deceived by the street address—the entrance is off Greenspring Drive). This really is a place of curiosities. Where else can you buy a retro, black-and-white upholstered bar and matching swivel stools; a solid oak, Arts-and-Crafts mantelpiece; or an Empire-style sideboard? There are plenty of overstuffed sofas and a few fine solid wood pieces, but be prepared to squeeze into cramped corners to seek out the best finds. For a small fee, the owners will have pieces custom-painted or finished. And if you ask nicely, you might even be able to haggle over the already low prices.
75 W. Timonium Road, Timonium, 410-828-1870
If you've drooled over the rich patina of a Potthast sideboard but couldn't quite stomach the price tag, try Cornerstone. Specializing in high-end brands in traditional styles, this is the spot for name-dropping—think Henkel Harris, Biggs, and Stickley. These folks know what they're getting when they take consignments, too. There's an antiques expert on staff to separate the real deal from the reproduction and an on-site workshop to maintain and polish all pieces. Cornerstone does carry some new upholstered furniture (mostly discontinued items or manufacturer overruns), which are sold just over cost. Cornerstone's website is constantly updated to show current inventory so shoppers can e-snoop before they shop.
2175 Greenspring Drive, Timonium, 410-561-3767, www.onlycornerstone.com
The Elephant's Trunk
Stylish living isn't just for grownups: The Elephant's Trunk has a hefty stock of pre-owned children's clothing, and interspersed among the OshKosh B'Gosh is a nice inventory of affordable furnishings and supplies to meet the needs of little ones. The shop carries a veritable pantheon of swings, bouncy seats, crib sets, car seats, and strollers, as well as a smattering of highchairs, baths, and cute accessories like mobiles and picture frames. Almost an entire room is dedicated to toys and play tables, and all items are routinely checked against recall lists to make sure merchandise is safe for resale. Similarly, car seats must be less than four years old to be consigned and cannot have visible signs of strain. The store puts photos of new merchandise on its Facebook page as well as notices of special sales.
317 Main Street, Reisterstown, 410-517-1200, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Elephants-Trunk
Great Finds AND Design
Great Finds and Design has a stunning array of styles sprawling over its 15,000 square feet of space. A staff of about 20 ensures very good customer service and arranges the store's wares into appealing vignettes. The philosophy at Great Finds is that furniture should be able to go from the showroom floor to your living room floor with minimal delay, so only the most current fabrics and well-maintained pieces are chosen for consignment, though the staff keeps a list of professional resources should customers want recommendations on upholsterers or finishers. The "boutique" section does a brisk business in china, crystal, and jewelry. Great Finds and Design has its act together online, too. Its web-based galleries offer a tempting glimpse into what's new and available.
1924-B Greenspring Drive, Timonium, 410-561-9413, www.greatfindsanddesign.com
Objects Found owner Reggie Sajauskas takes items on consignment but will also take the entire contents of homes back to her Catonsville location for those who are downsizing or selling up. One can find just about anything to outfit a home, from Pyrex to patio furniture. Merchandise is organized into 11 themed rooms over 3,000 square feet. Shoppers can browse through the model train room, as well as sections for books, Asia-themed items, dining needs, mid-century modern furniture, and music. Prices are set at a liquidation level, which also keeps the inventory turned over so there's always something new on the floor.
818 Frederick Road, Catonsville, 410-744-9000, www.objectsfound.com
The Shabby Button
Twin sisters Lisa Mangione and Melissa Garcia preside over this shabby-chic shop that prides itself on its selection of country cottage furnishings (though the shop carries clothing, too). The sisters scout regionally for vintage finds and personally refurbish, repaint, and recushion pieces into cottage-quaint creations. They also carry benches, tables, and birdhouses made from reclaimed wood. Furnishings are often seasonally available—wrought-iron patio sets in summer; dark, painted furniture in the autumn—and are merchandised by décor so shoppers can imagine how things will look in a home setting.
11860 Belair Road, Kingsville, 410-592-7770