If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good bit of vintage; I used to be an avid collector of anything that was old, and it actually got to the point where we were having to put up shelves specifically to hold things I’d rescued from our local charity shop. As time went on, my tastes changed and I found myself longing for more space and less stuff, but even now I can’t resist an old glass bottle or enamel jug. Today, I’m sharing my top tips to help you find the best vintage furniture, textiles and accessories for your home.
1. Explore Your Local Area
Start by spending some time in your local area to suss out just where the best shops are; vintage homeware is absolutely everywhere these days, so try looking in charity shops, vintage shops, antique markets and car boot sales. Make a note of what each one stocks most of – I have different places I head to, depending on whether I’m looking for chinaware, furniture or textiles.
2. Do Your Research
If you’re looking for items from a particular era, familiarise yourself with the brands and manufacturers, and find out whether the things they produced were stamped or embossed with a particular mark or logo – this is hugely helpful if you find yourself trying to identify whether something is the genuine item or a copy.
3. Be Patient and Persistent
Good things come to those who wait, and all that! Finding out when charity shops get their deliveries is one of the best things you can do, simply because it means you get first pickings. Also, make sure you’re at the front of the queue when the car boot sale or antique market opens – this might be stupidly early, but it’ll be worth it when you’re staggering home with armfuls of goodies. If you don’t find anything for a while, don’t get disheartened – unlike most places, charity and vintage shops rely on donations and estate sales, so there’s not always going to be an abundance of retro loveliness!
4. Learn Simple Restoration Techniques
I don’t mean that you should embark on a course in upholstery, but simple skills such as mending fabrics and restoring wood are really useful to have. Often the best vintage bargains are those that are looking a little worse for wear; the chair with the torn seat cover, the curtains with a few moth holes and the scratched table can all be restored to their former glory with a little love and expertise.
5. Check out eBay
Learning how to search is your secret to success here. When I’m looking for something specific, I trawl through the name of the item, the era, the style, the manufacturer’s name and often even the colour – using different combinations means you cover all bases. Also, (and this does sound daft, but trust me!) try spelling things wrong, as people often list things with typos without noticing!
6. Explore Online Options
If you’re not having any luck with your local area, try looking online instead. Vintage Actually is one of my favourite shops – they stock a huge range of bits and pieces, and I especially love their wire storage trolleys. I also love Rose & Grey, Lovely & Co and Scaramanga – something for everyone!
7. Consider Reproduction
If you can’t find the item you’re looking for, and you really can’t wait any longer, then reproduction or lookalikes could be the answer. Industrial vintage is hugely popular at the moment, and there are some shops that are doing it beautifully. Labour and Wait in London is worth a visit, and Utility in Brighton is heaven for anyone who likes the combination of classic style with quality construction – they even sell carbolic soap if you want to embrace every aspect of vintage!