Vintage & Used Furniture

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STYLING VINTAGE FURNITURE

For those who love coolly curated vintage interiors but wouldn’t attempt to mix modern furniture and vintage furniture without an instruction manual, let us reassure you: mastering the vintage furniture mix is really a cinch. The key lies in knowing your personal style and striking a meticulous balance between old and new. And while an editorialist eye is helpful, it’s certainly not a must. In fact, once you're armed with a few helpful hints, decorating with used furniture begins to take on the fluidity of a visual language.

FINDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE

For those who are just starting out, consider this your guiltless pass: spend a few hours getting lost in beautiful interiors on the web. Yep, that’s right, dedicate a few hours to nothing but unabashed room-gazing. Bookmark (or Pin) what you like, skip what you don’t, and watch as your vintage furniture style begins to surface magic eight ball-style.

When you’re done, assess the findings. Did you fall for every last interior with Mid-Century Modern furniture? Or was it minimalist Scandinavian rooms packed with distressed furniture that caught your eye? Try dissecting those photos you dog-eared. What are the elements you really love? Is it the egg white walls? The roughly tumbled bedding? That moody, dark oil portrait over the bed? Identify all of the things you can’t get enough of, and ask yourself if you can see these vintage furniture pieces in your own abode. Hopefully the answer is yes, but if not, go back to your saved files and try to locate that blissed-out medium.

As you browse, also take note of the style combos that professional designers use. Mid-Century Modern furniture and boho chic is a common formula, as is Art Deco and Chinoiserie. Likewise, focus on how the pros mix secondhand furniture with new designer furniture. Do they use only vintage art to punctuate a room full of new finds, or is everything antique furniture and décor but the pillows? By being vigilant and bookmarking images of the antique furniture you love, you’ll create a guide book that’s easy to refer back to once you begin designing your own spaces.

EYEFUL CURATION

Once you’re in full huntress mode, the trickiest part of buying vintage furniture for sale is honoring your general style without letting it stifle your creativity. What does this mean? Well, ever see a room with an unexpected or quirky piece of used furniture or decor? Like say, a grand, Neoclassical concrete bust on a modern bar cart? While it’s not impossible the designer went looking specifically for it, they more likely stumbled across at a vintage shop or antique mart and reinterpreted it to make it work in their intended space. In interiors, it’s these surprise elements that propel a room into the realm of extraordinary.

Also, remember that antique furniture’s upholstery, paint color, and photo framing can all be changed. If you’re in love with the bones of a piece, it might well be worth the cost to do a little revamp. Looking for antique bedroom furniture, but can’t find a bed that strikes enough modern notes? A wood four-poster bed painted black and lightly distressed is a beautiful thing. Looking for vintage patio furniture, but can’t find anything that doesn’t look like it’s halfway to the junkyard? Try painting a rusted iron table set in a wacky hue.

Likewise, think of unexpected ways to use vintage furniture and objects that you might not have been in the market for. This is especially true when it comes to vessels. A petite Victorian brass boot vase might seem as silly as it is pretty, but what if you filled it with cocktail picks and nestled it on your bar? The same goes for a vintage Moroccan lassi cup filled with cosmetic brushes in the bath. Or a champagne bucket filled with cooking utensils in the kitchen.

THE NON-NEGOTIABLES

In addition to maintaining an open mind, vintage and used furniture buying requires a tightly edited list of non-negotiables. The number one item that should be on this list? Your measurements. No matter how fabulous that vintage sofa or vintage table is, if it won’t fit up the stairs, just leave it. Trust us, bidding it adieu in the antique shop will be far easier than watching it sit in your lobby for weeks until you find a new buyer.

Additionally, be on the lookout for quality designer furniture as you shop. Equipping yourself with a few basics on your era of interest can be a godsend. If you’re into more contemporary furnishings, know what brands you love. If you love vintage Mid-Century Modern furniture, know what specific designers you’re partial to—it’s a huge help.

And lastly, know your price range. If you’re looking for a specific piece of designer furniture, know what those pieces typically sell for. In addition to preventing you from parting from your bills unnecessarily, knowing their worth can be fabulous negotiating power.