Huffpost Green

The 7 Best Things To Buy Vintage (and 3 To Skip)

Posted: Updated:

Vintage shopping is one of those things that you either love...or shudder at the thought of. If you're in the latter, I'm here to change your mind. I've been collecting everything from vintage clothes to books to art for years. My specialty is barware and cocktail accessories, mostly because I love a good party (or forgotten cocktail). I mainly concentrate on items from the 1950s and 1960s, which was a bit of a golden age for home entertaining. (You can see part of my collection on One Kings Lane, where I'm holding a "Tastemaker Tag Sale" starting today.)

While I obviously am a fan of the more whimsical side of vintage collecting, there are certain items that are better to buy on the vintage market, because you'll get better quality for your money. Whether you're going to an antiques store, vintage shop or estate sale, here's what to look out for.

For ideas on how to incorporate vintage finds into your decor, visit our friends at Domino Magazine.

  • Art
    Domino Magazine
    You can find "real" art for less than what you'd pay for a poster.
  • Wooden Furniture
    Domino Magazine
    Believe it or not, furniture was completely made of wood back in the day. See a piece you love but the finish is imperfect? Paint it. Missing a knob? Replace it.
  • Dishware
    Everything from fine china to sturdy Pyrex, often for less than what you'd pay new.
  • Glasses
    While glasses can be found cheaply (hello, IKEA), you'll often find more interesting versions on the vintage market.
  • Tablecloths
    I don't know when they stopped selling tablecloths, place mats and other linens, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a good selection at department stores these days. (And when you do find them, they're usually one of three neutral colors: white, ivory or sage green.)
  • Vases
    Yes, you can easily find a new plain glass vase. But vintage versions are often as gorgeous as the bouquet you'll arrange inside of it -- and can be used as decor when the blooms are long gone.
  • Silverware
    You might have to hunt to find a whole set, but it's worth it. A set of genuine silverware (or designer flatware) can be had for less than what you'd pay retail.
  • SKIP: Light Fixtures That Haven't Been Updated
    Getty Images
    Unless you know a great electrician, pass up that great lamp with the frayed wiring.
  • SKIP: "Free" Upholstered Furniture
    Yes, that 1950s chair might have great lines...but you might be in for a smelly surprise when you bring it home. (Or worse, bugs.) Even if its worse sin is outdated fabric, these projects are better left to a professional upholsterer. Build your contacts, then buy.
  • SKIP: Appliances You Can't Test Out First
    As with light fixtures, you might be facing a safety issue.
 
From Our Partners