Whether you rent or own, decorating a home floor-to-ceiling with pieces you adore is the best form of self-expression. From choosing the vibrant paint colors for the walls to the cozy rugs you lay on the floor, every interior design choice you make reflects your personality and style.
Whether you need a set of dining chairs for the kitchen table or a sturdy bedframe in the master bedroom, the furniture you choose creates the foundation for your home décor. But if you want to invest in furniture that will last and impress, skip the modern retail pieces and find unique styles with antique furniture.
When shopping for antique furniture, it’s best to be prepared. Pick up tips for shopping online and in antique malls, find research resources to understand the rich history of different pieces, and learn what to consider when buying pieces with our vintage furniture guide. Then you’ll be set to create the home you’ve always dreamed of.
Why Decorate with Vintage Furniture?
Decorating with vintage furniture allows you to personalize your home in a completely unique way that no one else can replicate. Every item in your home comes together to create a tailored story of your life, and whether you’re redoing a room with antiques or mixing in your old furniture with your new vintage finds, you can design a one-of-a-kind look for your home.
Purchasing vintage furniture from antique malls also helps give new life to discarded pieces. With countless thrift stores, flea markets, and antique malls across the globe, there will never be enough room to hold all the antique furniture. In our busy world, consumption is increasing every day. Intentionally buying vintage furniture that could be at risk of being taken to landfills is a sustainable way to fill a home with essentials.
Antique furniture can also be an investment. Each item is made with such high quality and is so full of history that its value can grow the longer you have it. Eventually, you may be passing down a priceless family heirloom to your grandchildren—and you’ll have bought it at an affordable price at your local antique mall!
Is Vintage Furniture Always Expensive?
Vintage furniture comes at different prices, and there’s something for everyone’s budget. If you aim to seek out valuable pieces from sought-after brands, there will always be high-end collectors who can help you. But antique furniture can be found anywhere and in a wide range of prices. Check local thrift stores and online sites like Craigslist or Facebook Market Place, and you can score a piece you love for cheap!
Before heading into an antique mall or browsing online, consider your budget for a specific piece. Chat with the staff at the Antique mall, and you will find them to be knowledgeable and friendly, Be upfront about your price and you’ll be shown the best antique furniture for you.
Resources for Researching Vintage Furniture
There’s always a chance you could walk into an antique mall and fall in love with a piece without knowing anything about it, but if you’re on the hunt for specific pieces or brands, you should consider investing time to research. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about vintage furniture to be able to successfully shop for antiques you love—but understanding the lingo sellers use and signs of authenticity will give you a leg up! Use these five resources and guides to learn about potential value, styles of furniture, and reputable brands:
Check out catalogs at your local library
Browse similar items on online auction sites
“Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide”(and other similar books)
3 Things to Consider When Buying Vintage Furniture
When you find a piece of antique furniture you like, refrain from buying it without considering these three things:
1. Vintage Furniture Condition
The condition of vintage furniture tells a lot about how it will fit into your home. Get a closer look at every drawer, leg, handle, and surface to see if it’s broken or scuffed in any way. In some cases, damage to the item means you can ask the staff if the vendor would be willing to haggle with the price. At most antique malls the staff can reach out to the vendor to see if there is room for negotiation. But in other cases, you may want to walk away and find a more well-kept item.
It’s important to note that even when a piece is not in mint condition, you may not have to give up on it. Some antique furniture can be restored to its former glory, whereas others can be upcycled with the right time and dedication. Understanding where you fall on a scale of “this is too damaged for me” to “I want to learn how to paint and stencil this piece” is important to consider when shopping for antiques.
2. The Furniture’s Age
When shopping for vintage furniture, you should consider the year it was made. People say that antique furniture was built to last—and they’re right! If you’re redecorating your home and searching for a specific style, it’s helpful to understand the different design details and shapes from each era to know how to describe what you’re looking for.
There are a few signs to determining the age of a piece if the collector hasn’t done it for you. For antique furniture, you should look at how pieces are made, like if they used dovetail joints, what the wood finishes are, and the various materials used, to figure out what era it was made in and if it will fit well with your current home décor.
Popular Eras of Furniture:
William and Mary (1685-1720)
French Restoration (1830-1850)
Arts and Crafts (1895-1915)
Art Deco (1920-1945)
Mid-Century Modern (1940-1970)
3. The Furniture Style
When you search for vintage furniture, you must consider your design preferences and whether the styles will work in your home. If you’re planning to actually use the piece and not just keep a pristine collection, refrain from buying furniture just because it’s rare or valuable. If you’re buying antique furniture in Indiana or elsewhere to spruce up your home, it should be able to work with your existing décor.
Buying Antique Furniture Online
If browsing for furniture from the comfort of your home sounds right up your alley, then it’s important to determine if a site or collector is trustworthy. Message them, read reviews, and get to know their specialties in antique dealing to determine whether they are reputable before you buy.
Since you won’t be able to view the piece in person, make sure you always ask for up-to-date and accurate measurements. You wouldn’t want a vintage desk meant to help redecorate your office to show up and then not fit through the door! Even if an item seems small, always, always, always ask for dimensions before purchasing.
Whether you buy from a trusted online vendor or an individual salesman off an online forum, inquiring about shipping methods and ways they protect antique furniture is a must. Inquire about what ways they secure the item to last through travel and if they offer any damage insurance.
Popular Online Options for Buying Vintage Furniture:
Everything But the House
Buying Furniture in Antique Malls
For an in-person shopping experience, visit your local antique mall. With countless booths to choose from and different vendors specializing in certain types of vintage furniture, you’ll experience a one-of-a-kind shopping experience with every visit. Often times the staff at antique malls will enjoy connecting with you and can give you personal attention and help as you shop to create the unique home décor of your dreams.
Traveling to an antique mall also gives you a real, in-person feel for the possible antique furniture you may wish to bring into your home. Walking up and down the aisles of the antique mall, you can discover amazing furniture you’d never have noticed online. Visit us at our Algonquin, Melbourne, or Highland locations today.
5 Tips for Shopping for Furniture at an Antique Mall
Buying vintage furniture at an antique mall is so much fun! But for those serious about hunting down the best deals and most unique pieces, there are a few tips and tricks you should know before shopping at antique malls:
Tip 1. Always Bring a Measuring Tape to the Antique Mall
Whether you know exactly what you’re looking for or just browsing and hoping to find something that speaks to you, you should always pack a measuring tape in your bag when you visit the antique mall. There’s nothing worse than buying something, letting yourself get excited about it coming home with you, and then having it be the wrong size!
Avoid this common problem by measuring the space you’re looking to fill in your home and the potential vintage furniture you want to take home with you. Even if you don’t know the exact measurement of a spot in your house, having this item on hand will help you figure out if it can even fit in your car to take home!
Tip 2. Decide What Antique Furniture Flaws You’re Willing to Fix
Every buyer is different when it comes to letting antique furniture flaws deter them. Some will look at a few issues and pass immediately, while others see it as a fun arts and crafts challenge. Because of this, many vendors carry a wide selection of furniture ranging from pristine to slightly damaged—so it’s up to you to determine what quality of vintage furniture you’re looking for.
Please note that there is a very big difference between structural issues and surface flaws. Structural issues are things like a table being wobbly or gaps and holes in a desk with no solution available or alternative. Surface flaws are more like mild scratches, aging paint jobs, or minorly changed details. Determine what you’re willing to overlook or fix up for yourself before you start shopping.
Tip 3. Keep an Eye Out for the Unique Little Details
In a world of cookie-cutter furniture and home design, antique malls have endless antique furniture options that feature unique details you can’t find anywhere else, like specific colored vintage furniture from the mid-century modern era or whimsical decals on a vintage bookcase. As you shop at antique malls in Chicago and elsewhere, look closely at each piece to see if you can spot any details that spark your interior design interest!
Tip 4. Visit the Antique Mall Often
Vendors love to refresh their spaces at the antique mall often and bring in new items especially when a large piece of vintage furniture sells and they need to bring in new furniture to replace it. Make sure to visit the antique mall often so you can
Tip 5. Get Creative with Different Design Possibilities
Antique malls are full of surprising items, and it can feel overwhelming to find the exact right antique furniture piece you’re looking for—but we recommend you think outside the box. If you happen to find a piece of vintage furniture in Florida you love but think you have no use for it in the way it was designed, consider that it can be used in other ways. Most items are quite versatile when it comes to decorating a modern home.
Many people fill their homes with multi-use antique furniture, bringing a personal and creative atmosphere into their homes! Consider using vintage crates to hold records or as under-bed storage for your vintage clothing collection. Antique luggage crates make a playful coffee table. Different vintage shelves can double as inside plant nurseries. As long as you get creative, your options for repurposing vintage furniture are endless!
Whether you want to revamp your home décor to look like a royal castle or search for individual pieces to fill out your home, decorating with antique furniture doesn’t have to feel daunting. With our antique mall shopping tips, resources you can use for researching different styles and eras of antique furniture, and the qualities you should consider every time, you’re ready to start your search for vintage furniture. Visit us at one of our locations or browse online today!