Antiquing can be time consuming and even stressful sometimes if you’re looking for specific pieces, but can’t find them. I’m sharing 6 of my best tips that I use for having a successful antique haul.
I love antiquing. It’s one of my favorite past times. There are always so many interesting pieces to check out and there is always a space in my home in need of new decor. Although I get a certain sense of enjoyment out of antiquing, sometimes it can feel overwhelming and time consuming. Over the course of my past 4 years experience, there are a few tricks I have learned for good and efficient antiquing.
Reasons to Love Antiquing
Unique Decor Option
When you go antiquing, it’s always about what goodies you can find, but it’s also about the experience. There is nothing like going out to your favorite store in search of that one long sought after item. And that feeling of finally finding it! Antiquing is fun in that way. It feels like an adult treasure hunt and maybe that is why it is so addictive. Along with the fact that you can find pieces that almost no one else has.
They Tell a Story
This isn’t a Hobby Lobby scenario where you go in and find a ton of the same generic decor pieces to style your home with. Antique stores have hundreds of unique items and they all have a story to tell. Seeing an antique sitting on my shelves or hanging on the walls of my home makes me think back in time to whose home this little piece once sat in. What is it’s story I often wonder to myself. That extra wear on that wooden potato masher or that chippyness on that dresser remind me of an item that’s served for good use and has been loved and actually used. You can’t buy that story at a big box store.
Frugal & Sustainable
Buying antiques can be very frugal if shopping for them at second hand stores or garage sales. Some people just don’t know what they have and will give it away for a steal. Often, antique stores themselves are not on the “cheaper” side, but keep in mind that prices can always be negotiated. And with the repurposing factor of using antiques as home decor, you are giving an item new life instead of buying something cheap at a big box store.
Tip # 1 for Efficient Antiquing – Keep a List
A lot of people, including myself have a wish list of items they are currently looking for. And I highly suggest this for good antiquing! This is for those situations where you’ve had an unanticipated trip to the antique store and come across something you’ve been looking for for months or even years. I keep a list in the notes section on my phone so it’s always with me. This tip has helped me countless times. Because, let’s face it we can’t remember it all. Especially if you’re anything like me and have a lengthy wish list.
Tip # 2 for Efficient Antiquing – Bring a Measuring Tape
Although a lot of antique stores have one on hand, you may end up in a Miracle Hill or someplace that doesn’t have one. So do yourself a favor and buy a mini tape measure like this to keep in your purse at all times. Along with this tip, I suggest keeping a note in your phone, maybe somewhere near your wishlist of dimensions of spaces for specific furniture pieces. This helps save trips back and forth to measure.
Tip # 3 for Efficient Antiquing – Venture to The Outskirts
This tip has contributed to my most successful antique hauls. If you live in a large city like myself, it’s hard to come across those more coveted antiques. I’m talking ironstone, copper, ornate brass chandeliers, crocks, you name it. I started thinking about it over time and realized that a lot of the places in my vicinity are constantly being shopped at. This has everything to do with what was available to me at these stores as I live in a large city. One day I got the idea to leave my county and visit a neighboring county where the population wasn’t so dense. I came home with a ton of treasures!
A lot of people are not willing to drive 40 minutes away to go antiquing, but I am! Therefore, I find all kinds of goodies. This may seem like an inefficient tip, but if a 40 minute drive out scores you 5 antiques you’d otherwise spend a year looking for in small local trips, it’s efficient in my book.
Tip # 4 for Effective Antiquing – Look for The Staples
Staples are anything that I pick up at an antique store that I can use multiple of, I love, and can be styled in various ways. To me, these things are worth stocking up on because I always have them on hand when decorating a space. With open shelving in my home, I’m always in need of little knick knacks to style with.
A brief list of my antique staples are:
- Ironstone (think: tureens, plates, pitchers, bowls)
- Plates (as mentioned above, but doesn’t always have to be ironstone)
- Frames of various sizes
- Rolling Pins
All of these are typically things I look for on a regular antique trip. Ironstone items can be styled in multiple ways in different rooms of the house. Plates can be used for plate walls, stacking, and I even use them for serving. Books are great for stacking as well and add texture to a vignette. Especially if the pages are yellowed with age. (Here’s a tip: remove the cover on cheap worn out books for a unique look).
Frames are great to have on hand for DIY antique art or simply displaying. Empty frames look great on mantels and taller walls framing other antiques. You can find my tutorial for how I create faux antique framed art here. Crocks are great for outdoor and indoor styling. And they can be used during all seasons. I love this about them. Just change out your plants. Rolling pins are honestly just a personal favorite. I don’t know why I adore them so much. Possibly because I just envision the women in times past rolling out various yummy doughs for their families.
Fabrics are on my list for obvious reasons. I love to sew and create. When I find an antique (I guess you could classify them as more of a vintage piece) fabric, I am buying it with the intensions of repurposing it for something else. It can become a hair bow, a nightgown, or even a new pair of curtains for my kitchen.
Tip # 5 for Successful Antiquing – See Past the Non Ideal & Be Creative
So maybe this means that dresser you adore the style and construction of isn’t your favorite color or stain…but you choose to get it anyways and dress it up with paint and new hardware. See past that non ideal factor of that piece you love! Time and time again you will hear the avid antiquer tell you this. It means you’ll have to get a little creative and think outside of the box. That’s part of what makes it fun and enjoyable. You’re ultimately putting your touch on it to make it perfect for your home.
Being creative also doesn’t just mean paint. You can be creative in the use of an antiques. Old wire baskets are perfect for storing little collected goodies in. That marmalade jar is a new way to display those dainty spoons you snagged for dirt cheap. This tip is the interior decorator’s best friend.
Tip # 6 for Successful Antiquing – Think More Than Antique Stores
I didn’t realize this until several years into my antiquing experiences. There are more options out there for antiques now days with their popularity on the rise. We are not longer limited to just antique stores and estate sales for antique shopping. Look for architectural salvaging places, vendor markets, and even thrift stores.
Every year, I check local counties and nearby states for antique & vintage vendor markets coming soon. These are my absolute favorite. I have found so many items at these. Antique & vintage at that. A lot of times these consist of vendors from all over the state who come together to sell their goodies at their booths at these markets. Imagine a mini mall selling only desirable antiques and vintage pieces because everything has been hand picked. You don’t have to sort through a lot of the junk that these antique stores carry. My favorite markets to attend are Vintage Market Days and Vintage Pickin’. They never disappoint.
Architectural Salvage Places
Another good choice for this is architectural salvage places. At these, you can find more larger pieces for wall decor and open space that needs to be filled. Items typically found at these are things like old window panes, doors, tubs, sinks, victorian moldings, corbels, etc. So many good things! Don’t sleep on these places.
Thrift Stores and Garage Sells
This may be an obvious one, because just about everyone knows you can get antiques at thrift stores sometimes. and for cheap! I mentioned this previously in this post. One man’s junk is another’s treasure. Like that old saying goes.
Ebay & Etsy
On here, things can get pretty pricey, but there is always a chance that you can find someone who is auctioning something off pretty cheap. Anytime I need anything specific and can’t find it anywhere near me, I get on these trusty sites and see what I can dig up. I have purchased crocks off Etsy and a good bit of ironstone.
Last is Facebook Marketplace, because honestly I feel like a lot of people won’t think to search here. This is particularly a good resource for those looking for furniture pieces. People are always clearing out stuff and wanting to sell it the easy way, so they just list it on marketplace. And almost always, you can negotiate price with them.
These are all of my tips for successful antiquing. I hope you guys can find them practical and useful. Let me know in the comments if you have any good tips that you like to use on your antiquing trips. I’d love to hear.