How to Shop for Vintage Home Décor

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Good morning!  If you’re hopping over from my friend Kim at Shiplap and Shells, welcome!  Kim’s cottage style and vintage décor are always so inspiring and I am blessed to call her my friend!  I always love to see what vintage pieces she is coming up with and how she styles them in her home.

I’m so glad you clicked over to my blog post today!  I am sharing my biggest home décor passion…VINTAGE!

I can’t really say when my love for vintage and antiques started, but I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love them.  Even as a young girl, I remember styling up some old eyeglasses on my bookshelf and always loved rummaging through my Memaw and Papaw’s MANY antiques.  Memaw could literally tell you who gave her each thing, where she found it, what it was used for, what she paid for it, and more details than you maybe even cared to know!

So my family says I come by it honestly.  Funny how those unique quirks show up in a person many years later!

And I can already tell that our little Harrison is going to take after Memaw too!  He loves to roam around antique shops with me and is always full of questions!  I love having him along.

Sometimes we get really lucky!  I’ve definitely had those random, lucky finds over the years.  But some of my finds have come through patience, taking time to research and do my homework, and watching pro vintage-hunters!

Here are a few things I’ve learned from watching the experts:

5 Things Expert “Junkers” Do

 

  • A vintage pro always has measurements on hand for any pieces they may be hunting for and even general measurements of their home in case they come across “THE PIECE.”
  • A vintage pro carries a measuring tape. (This is how I know I haven’t arrived at the pro status.  I literally NEVER remember a measuring tape!  Ha!)
  • A vintage pro has a number in their head of general favorite items, what they are willing to spend, and if they are a seller, what they can sell an item for. This helps them to do #4 really well!
  • A vintage pro doesn’t overthink and makes quick decisions. (Another reason why I haven’t reached pro status!  Go ask my friend Beth from @oldetymemarketplace, who is a pro.  She learned to move on and stop waiting for me!). I am learning to get better at this though, because I can’t tell you the number of times when I’ve been indecisive and someone swooped in to grab a great deal…leaving me regretting my indecisiveness!
  • A vintage pro is able to look past what is and imagine what could be! Dirt, wrong color of paint, a little smelly, broken, or worn out….usually there is a solution if you are willing to put in some time and effort!

5 of My Favorite Vintage Finds

 
Chippy Concrete Urn

 

 This was a recent find that I shared recently over on my Instagram for Coffee Table Styling ideas!  On a recent junking trip, we were at the end of the day…out of space and finished off the trip budget.  We were on our way to the truck when I spotted this sweet little urn, half buried under dirt and muddy water. But I could see some of that light blue peeking through and for $20, I couldn’t pass it up!

I am enjoying it so much in my spring styling and I love the hint of spring color that it adds to my coffee table!  I always have a soft spot for a good, chippy patina and this concrete planter definitely has that going for it!

I also love finding versatile pieces like this one.  I could use it on tables, on the floor, outdoors, and in any room of the house…even a bathroom!  To me, those are pieces that area always worth investing in!

Antique Card Catalog

 

This was one of those pieces that I passed on.  I didn’t want to pay the asking price and I didn’t have a good idea of where it would go.  But back at the hotel, I started regretting my decision!  Once in a blue moon, indecisiveness pays off and I got lucky this particular time!  When we went back the next day, I was so excited to see the card catalog still sitting there and they dropped the price!

But it was smelly and covered in decades of dirt and grime.  As I mentioned, don’t let those things deter you from grabbing a good deal on a piece you love!  I shared how we restored this piece over on this post.

It looks so beautiful as a side table in our back living room and I’m still so happy that we found this piece of history

Antique Apothecary Cabinet

 

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you have probably caught on to my love for apothecary items!  I shared a lot more details of this incredible piece here (hyperlink to blog post about removing paint) and it’s a great example of not letting the “wrong” paint color keep you from a dream piece!  Some $1 oven cleaner and elbow grease turned this into a statement piece for our home!  It also has a super fun story behind it!

A great tip for finding vintage pieces is to follow store owners, pickers, and vintage vendors on their social media sites!  We found this piece when our friends from Baker & Co. posted it in a picture from their store.  A quick phone call got us some close up pictures and video and all the information we needed!  Spend time getting to know vendors and shop owners in your area.  And let them know what you’re looking for!  They are usually happy to write down your information and wish list items!  I love supporting small businesses and this is a wonderful way to do so, benefitting both the business and yourself too!

This piece is so fun to style and I know it’s one of those “forever” pieces for our home.  It also has amazing storage and works as a wonderful display cabinet in our dining room!

Vintage Signs

 

I definitely love collecting vintage signs and it something that I am always looking for!  This particular “Hamblen House Bed and Breakfast” sign caught my eye when we were on the World’s Longest Yard Sale!  The price was right and I thought I knew exactly where it could go in our home.

Fast forward to getting home, cleaning it up…and it didn’t fit!  So I took it to our next vendor market and since it didn’t sell, stashed it away in storage.  Not too many weeks later, I woke up in the middle of the night knowing exactly where it could fit!  And now it makes an incredible statement piece in our master bedroom!

This is a great example of grabbing those pieces that speak to you.  If you really love it, you can usually find a way to use it!  (Not talking about massive pieces that don’t fit in your home, of course!)

Vintage signs are a great way to add character and charm to your home.  I love to use them to decorate for different seasons.  Since they are flat, we store them in the attic between two rafters.  It is a fun way to switch out your décor and enjoy your collection!

I find my best vintage signs from vintage shops and antique shows.  While they typically are not cheap, they are great investment pieces that hold their value.  I have never found an amazing vintage sign at a thrift store, but I always look anyway…you never know!

Architectural Salvage

 

Great architectural salvage is something that is always on my “hunting” list!  I have so many favorites, but a recent find is this gorgeous blue-gray piece that I’m using in my spring décor.  I picked it up on a recent vintage shopping trip from a boutique vendor.  These are nice finds that have already been cleaned and fixed up!  I carried it straight inside and decorated!

I have tiny salvage pieces all the way up to big corbels and columns.  They are always fun to find and add so much character and charm to your home.  I love that architectural salvage fits so many design styles, from farmhouse to rustic, and cottage to traditional.  If you have a new(er) home, architectural salvage pieces are a perfect way to add some instant charm and help your home feel curated over time!

5 Places to Hunt for Vintage Décor

  • Boutique Vintage Shops:  These are small-businesses who have curated their store to create a certain look and feel.  I get some much inspiration from browsing shops like this!  In fact, if I’m feeling in a bit of a décor rut, there is nothing that helps me snap out of it like roaming through a favorite shop.  Two of my favorites that I’ve had the privilege of shopping at frequently are Olde Tyme Marketplace in Madison, Indiana and Rehab Vintage Market in Melbourne, FL.  I have soooo many pieces in our home from these two amazing stores!
  • Antique Malls:  These are always fun stops because you never know what you’ll find! There is almost always a huge variety, as the malls have lots of different vendors, each with their own style.  We always find some interesting things and there are usually some good laughs too!  You literally never know!  Make sure to look high and low in antique malls.  Crowded vendor booths usually have a hidden treasure or two!
  • Thrift Stores:  I make frequent stops at our local thrift store. In fact, most of my vintage books come from thrift stores!  Depending on the part of the country where you live, you can find great ironstone, baskets, dishes, and even furniture!  I often walk out empty-handed, but sometimes I score!  I recently picked up a stack of terra cotta pots for 49 cents each…and they all have that perfectly aged patina for decorating!
  • Flea Markets:  Be prepared to get a little dirty, sweaty, and messy, but I almost never leave empty-handed! If you go often enough, you can get to know some of the vendors and let them know what you’re looking for.  They may be delighted to go rummaging through their estate sale stashes back in their storage units and find just what you need!
  • Yard Sales:  I’ll admit, I haven’t been to a good one in a long time. But I’ve found fantastic things at yard sales before!  I remember years ago, probably 15 years or so now, buying an old, chippy window for $10 at a yard sale!  Chippy windows weren’t really a “thing” in the décor world then, but I loved it and decorated with it for the next 12 years!  I think I finally got rid of it when we were renovating.  Best $10 investment ever!

One more place to look for vintage items, especially in this world of technology, are from online shops and vendors.  I love how small businesses have gotten so creative over the past year and I’ve scored some amazing pieces!  Here are some places to hunt for vintage items online, along with some of my favorite online vendors:

I hope this gives you some ideas for your next vintage hunting trip, whether from your sofa or out walking the flea market fields!

Make sure to check out these vintage-loving friends listed below, learn their favorite tips and tricks, and how they use vintage items in their own homes! Next up on our vintage tour is Stacy from Bricks ‘N Blooms!  I can’t wait to see her vintage share today and I know you’re going to love her garden-inspired home and décor!

Blessings,

Robyn

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