More often than not, when you compliment someone on a standout piece of furniture, it happens to be vintage. Auctions, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets and salvage shops are great places to find goods to give your pad that coveted old-meets-new mix. It’s helpful to know the best decor to buy vintage, so we’re sharing the pieces you shouldn’t pass up if you come across them. So click through for our advice and then grab a friend and get antiquing!
Josef Hoffmann’s bentwood chair (also known as the Thonet chair) is a mid-century modern classic. Unfussy and lightweight, its curves look smashing tucked into a Tulip table, like in this San Francisco apartment. Plus, the chairs work really well in small spaces. Every so often, you can score a set (or a reasonable facsimile) on a salvage hunt.
Bright, enamelled, vintage cookware injects color and offbeat coolness into a modern kitchen. You can, of course, also sear in them, like Jamie Oliver does (he’s a fan). When hunting, look for Dansk Kobenstyle Cookware (right), a line that hit the market in 1955. You’ll know you’ve struck gold when you see the Dansk Designs France imprint on the bottom of the pot. Equally coveted is the wood-handled pot, at left, by Michael Lax for Copco, a ’60s line in tons of hues and shapes.
Photographer: Amy Bartlam
Designer Renee DiSanto of Park & Oak Design created this powder room with a solid wood French Empire vanity that’s definitely not an off-the-shelf look. She topped it with a vessel sink, and finished off the space with pieces — that while new — reference the past. These include Schoolhouse Electric sconces, a simple mirror, wall panelling and hex floor tiles.
From landscapes to ladies, flea markets are filled with arresting artwork. The pieces are eye-catching when clustered, or
display one on its own to give a room an unexpected moment. And the frames are often interesting. But the best part? Flea market art is usually inexpensive.
These twisted-leg cuties, known as Jenny Lind beds, are design darlings that occasionally crop up at secondhand spots. They are especially sweet in kids’ rooms painted in bubblegum-bright colors.
Photographer: Stacey Brandford
Source: House & Home July 2014
Designer: Natalie Hodgins and Kate Stuart
Ladders do double duty as decor helpers: use the rungs to drape fringed hammam towels, magazines, blankets or scarves. They add height and interest to a space, too.
This handsome bookcase with the horizontal shelves that flip up is ubiquitous at antique shops. Fill it with pretty toiletries, like Toronto designer Sam Sacks did in her bathroom. The wood patina adds warmth to the look. We’ve even seen a barrister bookcase retrofitted into a kitchen as charming storage for dishes.
Photographer: Alex Lukey
Source: House & Home
Antique shopping is a hoot because you come across obsolete items, like the grandfather clock. Who cares if it works? The sculptural piece makes quite the decor statement. When hunting look for over-sized, eye-catching items. An ancient plane propellor, for instance, is a cool cottage accessory over a fireplace.
Photographer: Alex Lukey
Source: House & Home November 2015
Designer: Sam Sacks
Traditionally used to store spices in ancient China, these gorgeous ceramic vessels haven’t lost their allure. The large ones look beautiful with a vivid bunch of flowers in them. Group a few in a hallway to really make an entrance, or use the smaller ones as pretty catchalls for bathroom essentials.
Photographer: Andre Rider
Source: House & Home October 2017
Gold has been trending hard for some time now, so consider one of these shiny beds for that guest room. Finish off with coordinating sconces and night tables, vintage-vibe wallpaper and a rug and you’re good to go. This room is by Philadelphia-based interior designer Michelle Gage who swears by flea markets.
Haven’t got space for a closet, or want one that stands out? A rare wardrobe is a clever option. Look for solid construction and a good finish, like Victoria-based interior designer Kyla Bidgood did when searching for an armoire for this airy foyer. The graphic tile floor makes for quite the contrast against the wood.
Photographer: Janis Nicolay
Source: House & Home March 2017
California’s Jennifer Maxcy of The Ranch Uncommon rummages for treasures at flea markets to create one-of-a-kind spaces for her clients. Build your own wonder wall by grouping pieces with the same texture and tone. Among other items, Jennifer’s vignette features an old military backpack frame, African baskets and a horse skull she attached to a piece of wood.
An old wood panel is a charming choice of sculptural artwork in this kitchen designed by The Ranch Uncommon’s Jennifer Maxcy. We love the caramel-y tones and how it ties into the shelf and the accessories, not to mention the texture it brings to the space.
Whether you actually use them or just prop them up as decor items, ancient cutting boards are cool! These nicked charmers add character and a cozy quality to this kitchen cooked up by Toronto designer Stacy Begg.
Source: House & Home July 2015
Vintage barkcloth is a dense, gorgeous fabric that, yes, comes from trees. Colorful versions offer a hit of hue where you need it most: on an ottoman, a chair or curtains, like in this tropical guest room. Count those flea market finds: hello, spindle bed, painting, rattan magazine holder and side table.
Secondhand shops are filled with two-seaters waiting for a chance to be your favorite new piece of furniture. Don’t be put off by the dreary fabric. Look for good bones, then haul the settee to an upholsterer to recover it in that snappy fabric swatch you’ve been holding onto since forever.
Photographer: Angus Fergusson
Source: House & Home June 2013
When you want French flair at home, a gilded mirror is the way to go. If you’re lucky, you can find a decently priced Louis XV mirror on your hunt, or something akin to this fantastic filagreed mirror. We love how it draws the eye up to the molding in this amazing living room in Amsterdam.
Cast stone heads are excellent (and excellently quirky) eye candy. Bonus if they can be used as planters. You can also score other unique decorative pottery secondhand. Here, a vintage monochromatic duo has tons of personality along a window ledge.