How to Shop Vintage Stores Like an Interior Designer
When I shop for vintage or antique pieces, what I’m looking for is that spark, something I can connect with on a personal level. I find that many of my clients do this naturally. In their travels or throughout the generations, they have effortlessly acquired beautiful collections that fit seamlessly into their homes. But for some, this isn’t such an easy task. I have made some fantastic finds over the years. Today, I want to share with you how I shop vintage stores and give you a peek into my favorite boutiques.
I get this question a lot. I’ve come across many people who want to incorporate antiques into their homes, but don’t know where to start. I also find some people put a lot of pressure on themselves to choose the right thing. They’re afraid they don’t have the proper taste or are unsure of what to look for as they’re shopping. I like to look at antique items as a way to create memories and tell stories. With that in mind, plus a few key guidelines, shopping vintage stores like an interior designer is actually quite simple!
How to Shop Vintage Stores
When it comes to shopping vintage stores, start by getting excited! I find there’s something exhilarating about seeing a piece, connecting with it, and re-imagining it in a modern way. As I’m shopping for antiques, I also think about the design, where it originated from, and its functionality. I want my clients to be able to use the piece even if it’s vintage. Some of my best finds have been in vintage shops like Reeves Antiques or on 1stdibs. Their unique, one-of-a-kind items have added a timeless richness to our interior designs. That being said, here are my top tips to shop vintage stores like an interior designer.
1. Go in with an open mind
Instead of going shopping with the intent of finding a certain piece, go in with an open mind. This gives you the freedom to browse and take it all in. You never know what little treasure you might find. Then again, you may not find something today, and that’s okay. Or you may find a piece you love but don’t need – that’s okay too! When you don’t limit yourself to looking for specific things, you can end up finding exactly what you need without even knowing it.
2. Look for high-quality
Craftsmanship is important when you’re shopping for vintage pieces. Look at the material and check out the stitching on the upholstery. Find out what type of wood the manufacturer used. If you can find the manufacturer, look them up on your phone. It’s important to recognize pieces made with high-quality materials. These items will last longer and continue to look beautiful over the years. When I’m shopping for vintage art, one thing that always catches my eye is a beautiful, ornate frame. This frame style gives the piece a traditional, luxe feel and creates a stunning contrast when mounted in a modern space. Another thing to look for when you’re buying art is a signature. Having a signature is a good indication the artwork is real and original.
3. Look for the piece that stops you in your tracks
When you’re thinking about incorporating vintage pieces in your home, you want to make sure you select pieces that speak to you. Whether it’s the lines of the piece or its shape, if it made you stop and look, then it’s got that something! Even if it’s not in the color you love, remember it can be painted or reupholstered. The most important thing to look at is what kind of “bones” it has. Does the underlying structure or shape bear potential? Some other pieces I’m always on the lookout for are mirrors, accessories made from natural stone, and vintage photos. Mirrors are great because they give the illusion of more space and add depth. Natural stone accessories, on the other hand, are a fabulous way to bring in texture and add a splash of organic pattern. Vintage photos instantly give a space a timeless feel and are a great conversation starter.
4. Avoid kitsch
Timeless interiors are collected and curated, not overflowing with knick-knacks or tchotchkes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a bookshelf accessory or vase for a cocktail table. It’s always best to be intentional about what pieces bring into your home. Instead of purchasing random or miscellaneous items, consider using pieces that are historical, iconic or useful. I love incorporating accessories like jewelry, books, an accent chair or vintage prints into our designs. They’re unique and I love that there’s a story behind everything.
5. Ask Questions
One of the best ways to shop vintage stores is to ask questions. The curator of the antique shop has a trained eye, so don’t be afraid to borrow it. Ask about the materials, the manufacturer, and how they source their pieces. Take time to build a good relationship with the shop owner and give them an idea of what you’re looking for. You never know when that perfect piece will come in, and they could give you a great tip.
My Favorite Spots for Vintage Finds
The antique markets in Paris are legendary and browsing 1stdibs is like taking a stroll through the market. It offers you access to vintage pieces from around the world that might otherwise be inaccessible. From fashion to home furnishings, you can find it all on 1stdibs. It’s an amazing resource for one-of-a-kind vintage finds. I’m always browsing their accent chairs (because you know I love a good accent chair) and scrolling through their Instagram for inspiration.
Reeves Art + Design is a local, family-owned and operated art studio and antique store. We’ve worked with Reeves for a while now to source vintage pieces for clients as well as pieces for my own home. It’s one of my go-to spots for finding vintage items locally. I recently added some fabulous chairs from Reeves to my home just in time for the Spring Soiree I hosted. This pair of armchairs are campaign-style and stained in black. The base of these chairs also boasts beautiful brass detailing. They are from the Hollywood Regency period in the 1960s and are upholstered in a lush light grey velvet. The chairs without the arms are a pair designed by Michael Taylor for the Baker Furniture Company. They are also from the 1960s and freshly upholstered in lush grey velvet. This is just a small example of their wonderful selection. I’m always in for a unique and gorgeous find every time I visit.
Old Blue House Antiques
No matter what you’re looking for, you can probably find it at Old Blue House Antiques in Houston. They carry everything from home goods and clothing to cute vintage items for kids. They have a large space which is conveniently located close to the Laura U Studio.
Keil’s Antiques in New Orleans is a family owned and operated business. They’ve been sourcing antiques for over 100 years and know a thing or two about vintage pieces. They have a fabulous selection of antique mirrors, accent chairs, and secretary desks. They’re one of my favorite spots for sourcing vintage pieces. Every time I take a trip to New Orleans, I set aside time to pop into their store and check out what they have.
Vintage Interior Design
Your home represents the past and the present – your family’s legacy. As you’re shopping for antiques, look for pieces made with high-quality materials and will stop you in your tracks. Find pieces that you connect with and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Shop with an open mind and don’t get discouraged if you don’t find something. Shopping for vintage pieces isn’t about finding the perfect thing. It’s about finding the furnishings that speak to you and tell your story. For more design ideas and inspiration follow me on Instagram.