Product designer Eric Woodard ’89 couldn’t believe what he had just pulled off. He was walking out of a flea market at the fairgrounds in Raleigh with a classic piece of furniture in tow. It was a chair by 20th-century Danish designer Hans Wegner, and he had paid virtually nothing for it.
“I was expected to be arrested as I was walking to my car,” Woodard says. “I was like, ‘Do these people know the greatness around them?'”
That was more than 20 years ago, and Woodard still has the chair and features it in his apartment. Over the years, he’s added Heywood-Wakefield chairs, a mid-20th century Danish desk and more to the list of bargains he’s found at discount furniture stores, flea markets and bazaars.
Those deals led Woodard, who lives in Greensboro, N.C., to write Thrifty Chic, a book that shows how a person can create their dream space in their home for relatively little money.
“The main reason that I wrote the book is to show folks that they can redecorate and create their perfect designer space without breaking the bank,” he says. “Even though economic times may be tight.”
Woodard, who also owns Morphos Design, a company that specializes in luxury truck conversions, wrote the book based on his own experience. He says visitors to his home, which he redecorated for less than $1,000 just before writing the book, are amazed at how little he spends for his pieces.
Woodard hopes he can change the way readers think about home design. “They’re thinking that they’re going to have to spend much more money than most folks have now,” he says. “But when they consider flea markets and bazaars, their mindsets are changing. A lot of people are surprised at the quality you can find at those venues.”