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Miss Pixie’s expert tips for furnishing your apartment with thrifted items

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If we’ve learned anything from countless hours spent reading Architectural Digest and watching home tours on TikTok, it’s that the most special items in a space — the ones that make you comment “where’d you get that?” or Google “yellow velvet couch” — are typically thrifted. Not only is thrifting the go-to way for finding unique pieces, but buying second hand is also much more sustainable than purchasing another IKEA piece you’ll toss when it comes time to move.

The real hurdle is actually finding those special items. At best, it can feel like an endless adventure, and at worst, it can leave you using a folding chair as a couch for way too long after move-in.

Enter Miss Pixie’s, a D.C. thrift and antique store that specializes in home decor. Founded over two decades ago by Miss Pixie herself, the store features an ever changing collection of everything from unique art to nightstands and larger items like dressers. And as one of D.C’s most seasoned thrift and antiquing experts, Pixie has the best advice for how to furnish your apartment with second-hand items.

Meet Miss Pixie

Hi Pixie! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell us more about Miss Pixie’s? 

Miss Pixie’s is a woman owned business that has been in D.C. for 25 years, growing from a 500 square foot business to its current space of 4000 square feet. Our philosophy has always been to sell items that are ‘good to go’ and are a good and fair price. All items come from two local auctions, and we have two craftsmen that supply us with up-cycled dressers, chests of drawers, and reclaimed wood pieces. 

We carry work by three artists: David Amoroso (we’ve carried his art since 2000), Joe Case, a local plein air painter, and work by the now Instagram famous Chris Long from New Orleans. 

During COVID we found that Instagram is a HUGE vehicle to get our products exposed to folks!  We now have 25K followers and about half of our daily sales come from Instagram purchases.

We still love to be a hands-on business where you can come browse with ease every day from 11 am – 6:30 pm seven days a week. We have a kick ass delivery team (CrossFit lifters!) and a delightful, talented and hospitable staff that has been with us for years…and lots of customers that still shop with us after all these years! We are very involved in community charities, schools, fundraisers, local theatre and arts and get lots of love from  our neighborhood and metro area fans.

What’s your relationship to thrifting like? How did you start? 

I’ve been going to auctions with my family since I was 10 years old and have been going to second hand shops since I was 16. My family has always been thrifty and we’ve had antiques and used items in our homes growing up as long as I can remember. My mother volunteered at a “hospital auxiliary shop” since i was a child and she often brought us home great finds, party dresses and hats for dress up and everything else imaginable. I rarely had new toys and was just fine with used and fun vintage items instead.

What’s the easiest thing to thrift for a new apartment?

Clothes are always a good thrift item! Lamps, dishes, furnishings, mirrors  — all can add character to a new home and often for a fraction of the price of new items.

What’s one item you recommend that everyone buys thrifted? 

Original artwork can be found easily at great prices, along with whatnots, dishes, globes and design accessories. 

What’s your favorite item you’ve thrifted for your own home? 

Vintage original artwork!

What tips do you have for first-time thrifters looking to decorate an apartment? 

Sofas and upholstery items need to be clean and not threadbare (unless you have cats or kids and don’t care!) Make sure they’ve been cleaned and treated to be safe from critters. Don’t buy used sleep sofas or used mattresses, go new for those items. Lamps are great if you have someone that can rewire if needed to make sure they’re safe. Mirrors, art, chairs, tables that are stable and good shape are great buys. 

Only buy things to refinish and repaint if you REALLY have time and space to rework — don’t add projects to your home unless, because if they don’t get done, they will only be a source of stress. Buying items that are ready to go, that’s the way to go. And don’t be afraid to donate things that don’t work for you if you find something that works better. I think it is very healthy to change up (and at the very least, rearrange) items to change your environment as your life changes. You should be pleased, if not totally love and enjoy your possessions. In the words of Marie Kondo, they should bring you joy and, I will add, be functional! Clothes are great thrifting choices and once they no longer work, fit, etc. , re-donate or give them to people who appreciate or need them.

Is there anything that you should never buy thrifted?

Sleep sofas. They’re heavy or could have bug issues or smell like dogs or cats once you get them home. Don’t buy things that need work if you don’t have time or space to repair. Buy ‘good to go”! Electrical items make me a little nervous and if it doesn’t work when you get home, be prepared to throw it away as no one really repairs much anymore.

Sometimes thrifting doesn’t always equal inexpensive — is there a certain item you’d recommend people consider investing in when thrifting items for their home?  

Classic bookshelves, mid century items, artwork, nightstands, desks, things that need to be well made and sturdy to serve their purpose and will be of benefit to you for years to come.

What do you love about thrifting and living in D.C? 

D.C. is a very transient city — colleges and  military and government jobs and embassies keep the goodies flowing as people come and go often. More affluent areas change over furnishings and home goods and clothing often as people remodel, downsize, and move into new homes and change tastes and styles, so there is an endless supply of quality goods. Local auction houses, thrift stores (especially in the burbs!) keep the wheels of reusing and second turning!

Thanks Pixie! Miss Pixie’s is located at 1626 14th St NW in Washington D.C, 35 minutes from i5 Union Market by Common, a 15 minute walk from Common Cassell, and 15 minutes from Common Monroe. If you’re interested in learning more about Miss Pixies, visit their website and Instagram, or stop in to shop 11 am – 6:30 pm Monday through Sunday. 

Find your home in Washington D.C.

apartment hunting tips

Before you drop all your cash on furnishing an entire apartment, be sure to check out Common’s Washington D.C. coliving homes. We offer private bedrooms in fully-furnished shared suites, with WiFi, utilities, amenities, household essentials, and more included in the price of rent. Plus, there’s plenty of room to make your home your own with art and decor. Get more for your rent and save your hard-earned cash for something special — maybe a mid-century dresser? Book a tour today.

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