With bright blue skies and crisp air, fall weekends are perfect for antiques hunting trips. Even if you don’t find anything to buy, browsing vintage shops, flea markets, and antique fairs makes for a fun and satisfying day trip — and of course, if you do find a treasure, so much the better! Read on for a few favorite pieces to keep on your radar, how to decorate with them, and what to look for when inspecting vintage furniture and decor. Happy antiquing!
Consider your needs: When you need something specific for your home, it’s easy to overlook vintage and antiques. After all, shopping for brand-new items in your local big box store is usually quicker (and more of a sure bet). But taking the extra time to shop for something that has stood the test of time is worth the effort — vintage goods are usually well made, long-lasting, and elegant. A few practical finds to look for in vintage shops and flea markets include cast iron cookware, wooden spoons, drafting tables, desk chairs, wall hooks, and all sorts of cabinets.
Where to shop: Local vintage and antique shops are fun to pop into, but if you’re looking for a full-immersion experience, it’s worth seeking out a big antique fair in your region. Antique fairs bring together many individual sellers into one (often outdoor) space. Vendors go all-out with beautifully styled vignettes that can help you imagine how you might use some of the pieces in your own home. Plus there are usually stands selling food and drinks for when you need a break! A few of the best fairs across the country include:
Round Top, Texas: Twice annually
Brimfield, Massachusetts: Three times annually
Alameda Point, California: Monthly
Brooklyn Flea, New York: Weekly
Springfield, Ohio: Monthly, with two annual extravaganzas
Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle
Master the mix: A mix of old and new makes a house feel more like a well-loved and lived-in home, so don’t stress about whether your vintage and antique pieces will “go” with the newer items in your space. Pair vintage bentwood chairs with a modern tulip-shaped table; use an antique glass cabinet to hold your bath towels; or put a vintage credenza to work in the living room as a media console for your flat screen TV.
Start a collection: If you love browsing flea markets and fairs, starting a collection can be a great way to focus your shopping efforts. And of course, displaying a cherished collection in one spot can make a beautiful focal point in your home. Just remember that when it comes to collecting, small and curated is often more impactful than large and unruly. Here are a few ideas for fun vintage items that look great in collections:
Vintage oil portraits
Look for quality: Before you make a purchase, be sure to take your time inspecting the vintage piece from all angles. Look for wood that’s smooth and blemish-free; drawers that slide open easily; and sturdy, comfortable chairs. If a dealer claims the piece was made by a known designer (and has raised the price accordingly), check the underside or back of furniture for a maker’s mark. But the most important question to ask yourself is, “do I love it?” As with people, a few imperfections just add character.
Rug pairings: What could go better with your antique and vintage finds than a gorgeous one-of-a-kind rug? Each of the rugs shown featured here is either handwoven or hand-knotted, and the rich hues would go perfectly with all sorts of vintage treasures.
For more one-of-a-kind options, shop all of our one-of-a-kind rugs.
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