Vintage pieces add so much depth and ground interiors in a way that's difficult to replicate with new. They add layers of history and stories to your home, providing perspective and a sense of time passed. When you first move in to a new home it can take time to make it feel truly yours. In my opinion, vintage furniture and accessories can make this transition much quicker and make your home feel as if you have always lived there. If you love traditional English interiors as I do, this layering of historic design periods is quintessential to a scheme.
So before you hot foot it over to your local auction house, here's 7 tips to help you find that perfect vintage piece:
1. Research and invest in rare pieces if you can
If you're looking for a specific piece of furniture that you are planning on keeping for generations to come, trying to find a particularly special and rare item could pay dividends. There are plenty of books, blogs and guides out there on specific makers and designers to guide you to the styles you prefer. Then hunt out some previous auctions to gauge what price you should be paying for these items. Online marketplaces can also be an excellent source of information to give you an idea of how condition can effect price on specific items. Buying a rare piece for a good price might mean that you obtain an item that can only go up in value, standing you in good stead if you wish to sell in the future. If you're at the lower end of the budget scale some good options to dip your toe in are vintage lighting, art and pottery.
2. Spot reproductions
Reproductions can be easy to spot if you know what to look for. Check for dovetailing and joinery on wooden pieces - reproductions are more likely to have straight joints and glued rather than fitted together. Older pieces are also more likely to show signs of wear and tear, as well as being slightly irregular, especially handmade items. If you're looking for a specific make or manufacturer, get to know their stamps and tags so you can have a look for them prior to purchasing. And finally, go to the source to reduce the chance of reproductions - if you're after French furniture check out French dealers etc.
3. Evaluate the cost of refurbishing
Have you fallen in love with a piece only to be daunted by the amount of work it needs? If you're handy, most minor repairs can be carried out with a bit of advice and some online tutorials. Not that I would advocate attempting work on a priceless vintage treasure if you're not totally sure what you're doing! For that it might be worth getting a quote from the experts. Having a chair reupholstered or a piece of furniture mended might still cost less than a perfect full price version.
4. Use defects to bargain
On that note, if there are a few dings on your favourite piece you can try and reduce the cost to complete repair work. This obviously only works where you can contact the seller and perhaps not at auctions. If you've done your homework on the estimated price of the item and the potential cost to repair you will have put yourself in the best position to discuss with the vendor.
5. Find good sources and check them regularly
Finding a treasure trove of an antiques shop is like hitting the jackpot. Get to know the sellers and owners and you're even better off. Once you've found somewhere that stocks the kind of pieces you love make sure to build a rapport with them - they are far more likely to let you know when new stock is arriving and perhaps may be more open to bargaining with a trusted, longstanding customer than someone who's just wandered in.
6. Have a look for relatively unknown brands
We all know the names Ercol, Chesterfield and Clarice Cliff but perhaps there's another brand out there that make pieces you love just as much? Try and source some some lesser known brands and you might just find there's far more on offer and potentially at a lower price. Even completely unknown and unmarked pieces still have value if you love them!
7. Buy what you love
My favourite William Morris quote is "have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to beautiful." I do my best to live this at home and promote it on the blog. I don't think it's a bad way of designing your home, surrounded by items that bring you complete joy and add value to your life. So get out there and get searching for that next vintage piece!
Find that next vintage piece: