Were you born in the wrong era and feel a disconnect between 21st-century furniture and your wandering 70s soul? Or do you simply want to invest in stylish decor that doesn’t force you into a 24-month payment plan? We have the answer to both- Vintage and antique furniture. If you’re looking to score a hooked rug from the 40s or the 80s’ ruffled skirt side tables, follow these tips to find vintage furniture and decor!
Visit Your Local Vintage Store
By definition, vintage means anything between 20 and 100+ years old. And, since popular retail shops like Target, Pottery Barn, and Wayfair don’t sell second-hand, you’ll have to reshape your approach.
No matter what collectible is in your crosshairs — start local!
Spend an afternoon visiting local thrift stores like Goodwill or The Salvation Army to get a feel for your vintage visions. Or, dedicate a weekend to visiting your state’s bustling flea market.
Fair warning: thrift shops, antique stores, and flea markets often feel cluttered and overwhelming to newbies. But if you look hard enough, you might just find a few gems (often at discount prices, too).
Look at Online Retailers
If you live out in the boonies or don’t want to end your local search disappointed and empty-handed, the internet will be your best ally. Some online furniture retailers specialize in authentic vintage decor, while others simply feature an antique section.
The hottest online retailers selling vintage and antique goods are:
- Olde Good Things
- Everything But the House (it’s auction-style, so prepare to bid!)
- Rejuvenation (also sells restored antiques)
The clearest bonus is that you don’t have to take sellers for their word. These sites often mention the piece’s designer or artist, dimensions, condition, era, and materials. What you see is what you get!
Eighteenth-century paintings won’t arrive tattered and torn. Classic bedside tables from the 50s won’t have chipped wood or faux legs.
Go to Estate Sales & Yard Sales
If you’ve ever tuned in to an episode of Antiques Roadshow, you know very well that a dusty rug in the basement can rack up big bucks. Not everyone tossed their shag carpets or square sofas when interior design took a turn.
Estate sales are the perfect opportunity to pounce on those vintage goods that once lived in someone else’s attic.
Estatesales.net will help you find upcoming local estate sales by simply keying in your zip code. The platform includes photos (and sometimes descriptions) of the items for sale. And, if you live life on the edge, hold off until the second or third day when prices are usually at a discount.
Or, take the old-school approach.
Fill up the gas tank, coast through your local neighborhoods, and look for “yard sale” signs stapled to telephone poles. Or, you can cut the legwork out of your search by downloading the Nextdoor app, where locals might advertise a sale.
Learn More About Antiques & Vintage Furniture
Unless you’re a true vintage connoisseur, bargaining on a retro arcade sign will rely on nothing but a gut feeling. And, there’s no way to know for sure whether that 70s-era Judy Chicago mural is a knock-off or not.
Before you open your wallet and splurge at an estate sale, learn about how to identify vintage and antique decor.
For example, upholstered furniture produced earlier than 1920 featured natural stuffing:
Hay or animal hair.
On the other hand, if it has a fresh scent instead of a mildewy aroma, it’s probably a fraud.
This Apartment Therapy article teaches the basics.
But if you want to be an “expert,” research the exact item you’re looking for. You’ll find a general price range, learn how the condition impacts the cost, and images of what it should look like if it’s authentic.
The best strategy to avoid being conned is to educate yourself.
Ask Friends & Family
Few people still flaunt their 70s and 80s decor out of fear of committing an interior design faux pas. But for some people, it’s painful to toss something so iconic and sentimental into the landfill forever.
Your grandparents, college roommate, or sibling might have some vintage decor tucked away in a hall closet, basement, or long-forgotten storage unit.
This also gives you the chance to start a new family tradition, passing heirlooms from generation to generation.
A word to the wise: depending on how long they’ve been in storage, vintage items might need a little TLC to bring them back to life! A good dusting, proper cleaning, and touch-ups can turn that outdated piece modern.
Look on Social Media Selling Platforms
Social media platforms and smartphones are a long ways from vintage. But they’re also the perfect place to link up with vintage and antique sellers.
The best selling platforms for vintage furniture and decor are:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Amazon (for more recent “vintage”)
Because these platforms remove the middle-man (a thrift shop or antique dealer), it’s easy to feel out of your element. Don’t forget to negotiate a fair price, look at the piece before paying, meet in a public place, and ask the seller questions — don’t buy anything at face value.
Don’t Give Up!
Stores like Walmart and Macy’s might add a few new products every week. But when you’re looking for vintage furniture, you might see 100 new items and only one of each.
It can feel trying, but keep your spirits high.
Visit the local thrift store weekly and check Facebook Marketplace daily. You might just pop in and notice that vintage bureau or Coca-Cola sign that you’ve been chasing down for years.
In an ideal world, you could convert your bland home into a retro-style Brady Bunch-era abode in one antique shop haul.
But that’s simply unrealistic.
Vintage shops rarely have a regular stock and rely on vintage aficionados to fill their stores. You could miss that majestic green velvet chaise by 24 hours.
There’s a time crunch, but it’s not impossible to beat.
Leave your name and number with the local vintage store and ask them to call you when a specific item comes in. Or, set notifications on Facebook Marketplace to receive alerts whenever locals list lamps, sofas, etc.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Arch Troy to help them with their online marketing.