Antique shopping is the modern day equivalent of treasure hunting for your home. While I adore all aspects of the design process, from initial client meeting to installation day, my favorite thing is looking for antiques to incorporate into my designs. The addition of vintage pieces brings depth and character to an interior. Some clients prefer fine antiques and art, however, the price point for “fine” isn’t attainable to all. What I refer to here as antiques and vintage are pieces that are easily attainable to most.
Buying vintage furnishings and accessories benefits the environment, as they won’t end up in a landfill if someone takes them home. I don’t recommend buying all vintage as your space could end up looking a little creepy. I’ve walked into many a client’s living room where you wouldn’t think a young couple lived there based on their furniture. Some of us were lucky to have “hand me down” or inherited pieces, but when they’re all together in a room it gets a little “living history museum” if you know what I mean.
In furniture look for quality construction and workmanship, finishes that aren’t dull (unless you’re refinishing), brass hardware, no chair wobble, no creaking, and odors which may not come out.
Old, brown wood furniture can be lacquered in white, black, navy or a fun color to give them new life. Look at the fabulous transformation of this chest of drawers.
Some say buy what appeals to you and you’ll find a place for it. I don’t necessarily agree with this, it is important to measure your space and have an idea of what sizes of furniture will fit. Bring a list of items you need with their ideal dimensions and a measuring tape. You can get overwhelmed in these shops so best to go in with a game plan.
I like to buy pieces that are functional or that can be repurposed to be functional. This Floraline container holds towels in the bathroom, the white color makes it versatile. I used to have it in my old kitchen on the windowsill for herbs. It would also make a great remote control holder.
Original art is always desirable and you can be assured your neighbor won’t have the same piece. One of my most favorite finds is this oil painting. I found it in an antique mall propped against a wall, on the floor, in back of some furniture. Have no idea the provenance, that’s not important to me, what’s important is whether something moves me and if I can’t walk away from it.
If you like collecting smaller objects, a tray is a wonderful way to display them. There are any number of tray styles available. Rotating your collections every few months keeps it fresh.
Be cool! You don’t want to draw attention to the piece you’re looking at lest someone be watching and swoop in. Swoopers are those girls in high school who didn’t notice a guy until one of their friends started dating him and suddenly he’s desirable. If you want it, buy it on the spot. Chances are the piece won’t be there when you go back.
One of the great things about antiquing as opposed to retail stores is the ability to make an offer on an item. If the full price is out of reach or you just want to bargain, please be considerate to the seller. Low balling a dealer for what you think an item is worth or what you want to pay for it is ridiculous. Low ballers do not take into account the dealers time and effort it takes to procure unique vintage items. Dealers don’t have the luxury of going to a wholesale market and buying stock for their space like retailers do. The business is unpredictable and competitive, exciting and rewarding, and very hard to make a living at.
Good luck searching for finds or as the French say “la chine”