Most people develop a fondness for thrifting and antiquing over time, but Erin Oldenburg was born into it. Oldenburg’s father was an auctioneer in northeast Ohio who still has a “workshop full of stuff.” And while Oldenburg might not have inherited her dad’s fast-talkin’ ways, she has bargaining in her blood—and puts it to good use.
Oldenburg, 29, is a visual merchandiser for Vanity Fair, and her Logan Square apartment is full of well-styled design vignettes, most of which are composed of items that were found, inherited, or bartered. The two sides of Oldenburg’s living room are stunning examples of the work of a bargain hunter with a great eye. In one corner she’s casually placed a hand-me-down set of elk antlers atop a Lane coffee table scored at a Village Thrift for $4. The prints that hang above the antlers were part of a swap with a friend, and the seriously rad chrome and leather chair is one of a pair that Oldenburg found at a resale shop in her hometown for $150.
As you can see, Oldenburg is also super crafty. She created a kilim-style “cowhide” rug by using a template to cut the organic animal shape out of an old flat-weave that she was given by friends moving out of the country. Now I’m kind of obsessed with it and want to make one of my own.
In the opposite corner, Oldenburg has artfully stacked a set of vintage monogrammed luggage that she picked up at a church rummage sale (for a grand total of $5—so jealous!) on top of an antique trunk that she hauled out of her father’s workshop. While Oldenburg and her boyfriend Marco Morales’s aesthetic is primarily geared toward clean lines and modern design, she can’t help but sneak in a few heirloom gems. To create a cohesive vibe, both the trunk and the ornate mirror have been modernized with a coat of paint, perfectly complementing their minimalist sofa.
Like me, Oldenburg is constantly thrifting, restyling, and rethinking her decor. It’s key to change things up in your space, move furniture from one room to another, bring in fresh art, or swap stuff with friends—even if only temporarily. Your space should evolve as you do, so don’t hesitate to try out a new look. Remember, you can always change it back.