Buying Vintage Furniture: A Few Tips & Tricks!
Hello friends! Today I wanted to stop by with a few tips and tricks for shopping vintage! Now, before we get started, I want to tell you, I’m a vintage PRO! I love me a bit of vintage (and antiques, obvs) and some of my favourite things in the world are second hand, or as I like to think of it, new-to-me. In fact, nothing gives me the jels more than asking the question ‘Where did you find that?’ only to get the response ‘It’s vintage’. Even my engagement ring is antique and it was REALLY important to me that it was old, rather than modern. I know some people would think we were crazy if they knew how much he spent on a ‘second hand ring’, but to me, it was everything I wanted. Over my lifetime, if I could count up the amount of hours I’ve spent rummaging through charity shops, antique stores, carboot sales and vintage shops, it would probably amount to weeks, if not months of my life! Anyway, we’ll chat vintage clothes, jewellery and bric-a-brac another day, but today, let’s chat about furniture and a few of my favourite tips and tricks on shopping scoring an amazing piece of vintage for your home. Also, before we get started the pink chair, coffee table, record player and sideboard are all second hand finds, if that doesn’t convince you to start shopping vintage, then nothing will!
When it comes to buying vintage furniture, there’s SO much amazingness out there, but unless you have a van and a lot of time on your hands, then I always suggest buying close to home. Personally, I LOVE my local charity shop furniture stores. I’m FOREVER popping into the British Heart Foundation store and I find soooo much stuff in there, including my coffee table and pink chair (see images). If it’s a small item, I might pop it under my arm and carry it home (I did this with my kitchen chairs, one by one!) or I might pay for it and pop back later with the car. If it’s really bulky and it needs a van, they can often deliver for a small fee. Similarly, if I’m shopping on eBay, I often type in things I’m interested in and then search ‘Location Nearest’ and have a good scroll. With eBay there’s no delivery service, so I either go pick it up myself, or I arrange for an anyvan.com delivery. Obviously the bigger the item and further away it is, the more you will pay for delivery, which is why it’s best to shop as local as possible. Plus, you’d be shocked to discover what you can find within a 10 or 20 mile radius of your home! Just a side note here, it’s nice to know what your hard earned cash is being passed on to small businesses, charities and eBay folk who are having a clear out. Y’know what I’m saying, right?
I’m not gonna lie, without Pinterest and Instagram, I would have been tempted to walk straight past that 60’s sideboard or 70’s bamboo frame shelving without a second glance. But seeing vintage items styled up in a beautiful and aspirational way online, really helps me to know what I’m looking for and imagine these items away from the context of a charity shop and instead styled up in the home. Plus, if you love brands like West Elm and Anthropologie, it’s very likely that you will love vintage furniture too, as those stores make beautiful items, heavily inspired by the past. My advice, follow some home accounts on instagram, have a scroll through Pinterest, get a feel for the pieces you are drawn to and keep them in mind when you are looking at the hotch-potch of furniture in the vintage store / charity shop / flea market.
Bide Your Time
Shopping in Ikea is so fast, easy and fun! You can find sooo much good stuff there and literally set up a room with an afternoons worth of shopping and I can’t deny, that feels SO good! Vintage shopping on the flip side, is a much more lengthy process. If you are buying on eBay, you might have to wait 7 days for the auction to end, and then maybe another week to coordinate a good time to go and collect the item. Vintage furniture stores are a similar story, you might find the perfect sofa, but it might not be the right size, so you have to try another store and then maybe another. There’s no one-stop shop, you just have to search, search and search some more. I pop into my local charity shops regularly, basically whenever I’m passing, which could be on a daily or weekly basis, I’m not kidding when I say some of the shops know me by name! Buying vintage is a labour of love and honestly, when you find something you love, it’s less like a fling and more like a romance!!!!! All I’m saying is bide your time, keep looking, keep popping in your local stores and something amazing will pop up! It’s like magic! I was getting so frustrated with finding a coffee table I liked and just as I was about to fork out for a beautiful coffee table from Anthropologie (for a small fortune, I may add) I found this little cutie locally for around £20. My boyfriend popped it in his boot, we gave it a clean and a rewax and I’ve been thrilled with It ever since! Speaking of which…
Clean, Sand, Wax, Paint
When it comes to shopping for vintage furniture, not only do you have to look past the jumble of the sale room, but you also need to look past a few watermarks, surface stains and coffee rings. If you find the perfect coffee table, but it’s never seen a coaster, think yourself lucky that you get to buy the dream coffee table for a snip of it’s worth. Not only that, but you get to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon listening to podcasts, whilst you sand away the surface stains and re-wax the wood. You’ll be shocked at how good a tired piece of furniture can look for a little TLC. If you love the proportions, size, design and price, then don’t let a few coffee rings stand in the way of buying it! I personally LOVE spending the afternoon giving old furniture a bit of love, most things can be sanded and waxed back to life, but I’m never afraid of getting the paintbrush out either!
Make It Feel Fresh
Finally, this is a big one for me, as much as I adore vintage clothes, jewellery and homewares, I’m also very aware of the fact that I don’t want to look like I’m living in a time warp. However, if you DO want to keep your style true to a certain era, enjoy! You do you! But for me, I like everything feeling modern with a retro twist. I also love to mix eras, for instance, I might wear a 60’s dress with an 80’s jumper, new boots and a grungy 90’s hair do. I think it keeps things fresh and if it works, it works. I’m always aware that whilst each decade has a ‘look’, each decade inspired by another or has elements of that style which carries through and I find this fluidity really fun. I’m personally not afraid to mix things up a little, even though other people like to stick to an era. Anyway, my point is, do your thing! If you want to dabble in vintage, but you don’t want to look like you are living in a rerun of The Good Life, then just mix things up a little, blend the old with the new, channel your inner Anthrologie buyer and have some fun! Shopping for vintage is a really exciting and creative process so enjoy it!
I hope this post was of help, also, if you want to stay in my Airbnb apartment which is featured in this post, here’s the link. If you want to see more of my home, you can see my home posts here. Also, it’s probably obvious, but I bought all these pieces myself!