Shop Etsy

Discover Etsy x The Frugality

Aug 20, 2019

by Emma handmade and vintage goods

Throughout the month of August we are asking friends of Etsy to share with us their favourite Etsy bought items and what their tips are for finding the best items. This week Alex Stedman of The Frugality is taking us into her home to share her Etsy shopping tricks.


Image above: ‘Be Kind’ print: Margo In Margate at Etsy. Cheetah print: Fox and Velvet at Etsy. Small plate: Margo In Margate at Etsy. Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell.

As most of you know, I have shopped on Etsy for years, and it’s one of my favourite sites for late night (and often, early morning) browsing. But I’ll be the first to admit, it’s vast. I have found amazing presents for friends, personalised our wedding invites via the site, sourced vintage furniture for our home and stumbled upon the perfect prints for Peggy’s room here but so many people ask me how I shop the marketplace.

I never quite realised I had a ‘knack’ and maybe because I spend my life browsing sites for a living, I can probably count ‘finding hidden gems’ as one of my USPs. So when I spoke to the Etsy team recently about sourcing the best products on the site we thought maybe it was a good idea to share some of my knowledge.

And so, this is my Etsy home tour…

Large print: Lola Donoghue at Etsy.

My first tip would be to know what you’re looking for. Which I know is kind of ridiculous but trust me, you’ll lose way too much of your time without a (slight) plan (take it from someone who lost herself in a huge rabbithole of miniatures late one evening). I don’t mean specifics but things like ‘vintage rugs’ or ‘nursery prints’ is a good place to start.

Then, once you get confident with the categories you can start to expand your searches (i.e now I know Etsy is a great place for sustainable lifestyle products, I logon more frequently for those types of items).

This print in our hall is by a wonderful artist, Lola Donoghue, whose work was one of the first pieces we bought for our new home. I now love to follow her on instagram and have tried to update with new pieces when I can (this print is a more recent addition).

I have found so many great artists through Etsy, another being Margo in Margate, whom I met at an Etsy dinner and loved. I had spotted her work on some big Instagrammer’s accounts but it wasn’t until I met her that I fell in love with her ethos and passion – and immediately went home and bought a print!

It was originally supposed to go in Peggy’s room but I loved it so much I have kept it on proud display in our lounge on the fireplace (and I often move it around the house to brighten up insta photos!).

‘Be Kind’ print: Margo In Margate at Etsy. Candle: Octo at Etsy. Cactus pot: this version is old but find similar here.

So I suppose my next tip is: keep up to date with Instagrammers as they’re often one step ahead and can find a few gems we can’t! Especially interiors ones, I have found so many great pieces from favourite feeds – Jess from Gold is a Neutral featured an amazing ‘Girl Power’ feature wall with tons of new artists and great prints, and I even copied my sister and bought our bedroom side tables after seeing them in her home!

Nope, sometimes I’m not even original.

Bedside table: Urbansize at Etsy.

So now you’ve found a few items you like, familiarised yourself with some great small independent brands. My next tip? The ‘favourite’ button.

I KNOW. I only discovered this about a year ago but it has completely changed the way I shop. If I see something I like, either a blogger’s recommendation, or through a chance browse, if I like what I see, I add it as a favourite (you have to be logged in to do this). You can have favourite shops as well as favourite items. That way, it’s always easily saved for me, which is even better when I have to wait until payday to buy something – I don’t have to write down the shop name or remind myself how I stumbled across it.

Sometimes I just chance upon a great shop selling home-made wooden stools, which I don’t need right now but one day I probably will (!) – so I will favourite it for future.

The amazing thing about the favourite button is that if something is sold out, you’ll always have it saved for when it does come back in stock. AND you get notifications when you sign in on new items and products in your favourite stores.

My favourite stores section – it just feels like my own curated Etsy shopfront!

Here, you can see a mix of brands I shop with regularly as well as a few (like Kord Design) I’m ‘watching’ as I hope to one day purchase something (they’re a Nottingham based brand selling hand-made furniture and homeware).

Tokyo map print: Livi Gosling at Etsy.

In terms of prints for our home and our office I often find that Etsy is my go-to. I’ve finessed my style over the years so really try to narrow down my search which makes it much easier (for instance, there are over two million prints available on the site).

I tend to search typography, line drawing is a current favourite, as well as popular culture and cartoon style prints for Peggy’s room. Even I find something new every time.

Muslin (hanging): The Fox In The Attic at Etsy. Tokyo map print: Livi Gosling at Etsy.

It wasn’t until we had Peggy that Etsy really came into its own for us. Obviously decor for her room is a safe bet but I have since bought so many gifts for friends from here, as there is an abundance of cute stuff! The Fox in the Attic is now a regular gift for friends (it’s always packaged so nicely and the giant swaddle muslins are so useful), and when I dressed Peggy up as Princess Leia last halloween I just knew this would be the place I would find a crocheted lightsaber rattle!! It’s the perfect blend of hand-made treasures and small independent brands.

Desk: Naive Wood Factory at Etsy. Here’s a link to other great desk and shelving options.

You might not have thought that Etsy is the place for custom furniture, correct? But there are lots of brands that offer custom measurements, for example this desk was for a specific area in our study so we contacted the brand through Etsy who kindly made it to our specifications. Not only does it fit perfectly but we saved loads of money by sourcing it this way.

We have found lots of great furniture over the years and they have a great range of vintage homewares which we have bought for our home and the office (B’s Yard is great and Elizabeth Dot Design is doing fab things with upcycling furniture).

Bath shelf: BousUK at Etsy. Candle: Octo at Etsy.

Reusable cotton pads: Leave No Trace Lds at Etsy.

And last but not least, probably the purchase I am asked the most about: reusable cotton wool! Who knew it would be such a hot topic? But since using these (and finding this sustainable account – Leave No Trace Lds) I have never looked back and it has been so nice to find a big corporation that supports sustainability in a way that Etsy does (they off set the carbon footprint of all deliveries at no extra charge to the consumer, FYI).

And one last tip: look out for Etsy events in your area. The #EtsyMadeLocal event just before Christmas was such a fun real life marketplace and I found so many new local sellers, many of whom you get to meet in person, too. Not to mention it’s just a great day out.

I hope you have found this somewhat useful! Etsy really is one of those sites with something for everyone so I hope you put my tips into practise soon.

Discover more of Alex’s blog over at

This blog post is part of a series for Discovery Etsy by Etsy UK. Join the conversation #DiscoverEtsy and check out @EtsyUK for next weeks edition.

Images by Christopher O’Donnell. Follow The Frugality on Instagram