Friday, February 13, 2009

vintage gems

I spend a lot of time trolling around vintage, antique and second-hand stores. I have to admit, it’s not for the faint hearted. There is that smell…you know, musty. Musty like grandma’s attic. If you take the time to scout out some of these places, you get to know the ones that are well organized and clean. Even I have to be in the right mindset to go into the ones that are cross piled every which way, and seem to feature nothing but about 100 years of dust. Ew.

But here’s the thing. You can really find some wonderful gems. It’s true that “they just don’t make things like they used to.” Grandma has learned a few things in her days. You should listen to her. I like to think about the history and the stories that might be attached to each piece. My imagination soars!

This chair caught my eye because of the color and pattern of the upholstery fabric. Now, I am a more contemporary girl, no question. But a little something like this – after a good vacuum and a healthy spritz of Febreeze – has added a unique, vintage flavor to the bedroom. With the help of a modern throw cushion and a simple white cozy blanket thrown over one arm, I dare you to resist taking a moment to reflect here. All that for 50 bucks.

Another favorite find are these bedside lamps. They were found in an antique store while I was on vacation visiting some of my favorite people this summer. The shades were big, awful cone-shaped at both ends that had fake lace cording around the edge. You know the ones I mean, don't you? A good dusting and two black drum shades turned these into gems that add drama and romance to the still modern and contemporary space.

There a zillion examples of great finds. If you can get past the smell and embrace the experience, it will pay off for you over time. “Vintage” and “antique” don’t have to mean fancy and expensive. “Second-hand” and “used” don’t have to mean dirty and disgusting. If something speaks to you, keep an open mind, and find a creative use or space for it. Check to make sure the piece is sturdy, has no signs of pests (past or current – yikes!), and is/ can be cleaned.

Guaranteed you’ll have a story to go with it. Be very choosy. Grandma’s attic is probably not the ultimate look you want to go for.


  1. We've found some gems over the years. It's a great way to spend a lazy winter afternoon, searching through antique shops to find the one piece that will be perfect in your home. Another great option for us has been auctions. You can get some really great bargains for beautiful home furnishings. Do you have any tips on refurbishing old furniture?

  2. I agree! Here are a few tips on what to look for and on refurbishing old furniture...

    Look for real wood. Items such as old dressers are a steal because you can get them for much, much less. All it takes to give these a new life is often a quick sanding, a nice even coat of primer, paint, and new, updated hardware.

    Lamps in good working order are an easy and fun DIY project as well -- a new shade and can of spray paint for the base will give you one-of-a-kind lighting.

    Simple table chairs with an upholstered seat can be easily updated by popping off the seat and recovering with new fabric, using a staple gun.

    More complicated upholstry jobs should be left to the professionals -- but slip covers are a fantastic option that now come in a ton of shapes, sizes and fabrics.

    For more tips and tricks, check out Be sure to read "Be a garage sale genius" and "Flea market makeovers".

    Good luck and happy hunting!