If you're looking for a statement piece for your home, perhaps it is time to look for wares at auction.
The truth is, there are many affordable pieces sold in auction houses across the country. Professional interior designers scout furnishings at auction all the time. If you know where to look, quality furnishings may actually be within your reach.
Auction houses have hidden treasures that hit a variety of price points, and you can find these houses just about anywhere.
If you are in New York, I recommend paying a visit to Doyle New York for their estate sales, including the sale Doyle @ Home. This highly reputable auction house always has a great mix of modern and traditional furniture for a variety of tastes. Pictured below is a white settee in the Directoire Style, sold on January 15, 2013 for US$438, well below the pre-auction estimate of US$700–1000.
Another one of my favorites is Skinner in Boston. Their Discovery auctions give you a chance to bid on decorative housewares and furnishings. There is enough variety in these sales to allow you to decorate an entire house in one auction. Pictured below is an eight-piece mid-century dining room suite that sold for only US$50 against a low estimate of US$1000!
For the urban Midwesterners, I recommend checking out Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago, IL. While many of their auctions are very high end, others are estate or liquidation sales full of incredible finds for your home. I recently saw this Georgian-style table sell for US$244 at their Marketplace sale on November 16, 2011.
Freeman’s is another amazing American staple. Located in Philadelphia, PA, Freeman’s regularly hosts important Decorative Art, Fine Art, and estate sales. I discovered this carved mahogany sofa at an estate sale on July 17, 2012, which sold for US$313.
If you’re on the west coast, I recommend Bonhams Los Angeles and Bonhams San Francisco, where a majority of the Bonhams estate sales take place. These sales are a gold mine of good finds for your home décor needs. This large Tibetan carpet sold at Bonhams San Francisco for US$375.
Of course, there many more auction houses not mentioned here, so browse artnet’s auction house directory for our complete list of regional and international auction houses. You can also browse upcoming sales on the artnet calendar.