Vintage furniture is not only timeless and beautiful, but it’s also better for the environment. Choosing vintage and retro pieces will reduce the amount of consumer waste dedicated to buying new items only to be used for a short time, as well as keep perfectly good and oftentimes well-built furniture out of landfills.
If you recall our article on modular furniture, then you may remember the shocking municipal solid waste statistic from the EPA explaining that approximately 9,870 tons of furniture and furnishings were discarded in 2009 alone. This figure accounts for not only primary use, but of secondary, or second hand use, as well.
In other words, look for solid vintage pieces that have a lot of life left rather than cheaply made new items and you will be well on your way to owning an heirloom that you won’t want to throw out with Tuesday’s trash. Before we get to the good stuff, take a look ar our vintage furniture buying tips below:
- Try to buy only solid wood pieces, or items with (very little) salvageable veneer that can be painted or filled and restored.
- Look for drawers that have dovetail joinery – this resembles a puzzle piece that fits together really well.
- Look for brand stamps or stickers inside dresser drawers or underneath chair seats and Google the manufacturer – this can tell you a lot about the piece before buying.
- If it looks dilapidated and you don’t have any restoration or upholstery skills, then it’s probably best to keep on moving – you want the structure, frame, or “bones,” like a house, to be solid.
- There are vintage and retro retailers that will inflate prices. If you think it’s overpriced, after doing your research, then you can either discuss negotiating with the seller or simply cut your losses and move on – cash is a great bargaining tool.
- Try to avoid fakes and knock-offs. Herman Miller has been producing Eames chairs since the 1950s, however, the older the year and the better the condition is what determines its rarity and worth.
- If it has bugs or bug droppings proceed with caution or not at all, especially with upholstered items.
- Find vintage furniture at garage and yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets, auctions, antique stores, Craigslist, Etsy, eBay, and one of my favorites, estate sales.
Now that you’ve gotten some practical information under your belt for your next vintage furniture shopping trip, let’s have a little fun and take a look at some pieces for every room in the house.
Every bed could use a headboard to frame your linens and delineate your space nicely. Fretwork is a design feature that’s extremely popular in the interior design world, as well as in the vintage furniture realm, so we’ve chosen this king size Hollywood Regency style piece to accentuate your master suite.
It’s nice to complete the living room with a conversation-oriented furniture layout, which is why we’ve suggested this pair of Cane Back Barrel Chairs. Pop these across from your sofa after repainting a reupholstering these beauties and you will have a great place to sit and chat with guests.
When entertaining guests it’s nice to have a serving area, like a buffet or sideboard in the dining room. Today, however, it’s perfectly acceptable and encouraged to mix and match your furniture, so why not opt for something fun and fresh like the upcycled Bassett 1970s vintage dresser-turned-credenza (or entertainment center, or whatever you wish) pictured above.
Eat-in kitchens are so charming and a small, round dining table can be the perfect complement to a breakfast nook, which is why we’ve chosen the solid teak Danish and Mid-Century inspired 1960s table by Sun Furniture. This would look great with a couple of chairs – and the best part is they don’t have to be an exact match for the table.
Glam up your office with a vintage furniture find like the beautiful French Provincial Queen Anne desk with gold dipped legs. This would look stunning in a feminine space with a modern Lucite chair and a bold little accent pillow containing pops of color like pink, aqua, and orange.
Bring vintage vibes into your bathroom with a cool cabinet similar to the aqua blue metal filing cabinet from the 1940s/1950s pictured above. It has a pull-down glass display that would look so sweet filled with nicely folded hand towels or decorative items and a bottom space that could conceal toilet paper.
Let us know what you think about our vintage furniture finds on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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Image of Mid Century Desk via Shutterstock