Hunting for Antiques in Brimfield

09/26/2011 10:56 am ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

I have always considered vintage items an integral part of any home design. Vintage pieces reflect who we are, what we love and where we've come from. HUDSON, the store I founded five years ago, is known for selling some great vintage pieces, and in turn, I'm known for using great vintage pieces in my interior design projects. Being based in New England, we are a hotbed of vintage and antiques and the biggest place to find these items is at the Brimfield Antique Market. Based in Brimfield, Massachusetts, this tri-annual fair is held every May, July and September come rain or shine!

Anyone's first experience at Brimfield is a bit overwhelming. For about a mile down the main road, in this small rural town, you will find field after field of everything vintage (and many things reproduced!). If you want crystal lamps -- you'll find them. Do you want old wood planks -- done, and anyone looking for vintage eyeglasses -- they have that too! In my years wandering down these packed aisles, I have discovered that the secret to shopping at Brimfield is to go with ideas in the back of your head of what you hope to find but to enter these fields with no plan at all. Everyone always asks me "What are you looking for?", "What are you hoping to find?" and honestly, whenever I've headed to the show with a list of what I need, I end up going home with almost nothing. I find that those lists make you edit everything you see and close you off to pieces from which you shouldn't walk away.

This last show, which started on September 6, was gray and rainy, but I was still in my car by 7 AM starting the hour-long journey to Brimfield from Boston. Don't worry about showing up too early. By the time I get there at 8 AM, the shoppers for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart have already raced through most of my favorite dealers. The signs of their unlimited budgets and take-no-prisoners shopping are evident by the in-your-face 'sold' stickers.

Now, not all the fields are set up on opening day of the fair, which runs from Tuesday to Sunday. The fields you do find open are free to enter. The fields that open later in the week are pay fields -- usually anywhere from $5-10 per person. The pay fields are great, but for what I buy, the pay fields hold items which are expensive for my needs. But don't let me deter you from trying these fields at least once, they are a site to behold, and if you can afford some of the items offered, then more power to you.

Each field has its own personality, and it's up to you to decide if you are a match. It's somewhat like dating, taking on a blind date and either loving, hating or considering another try. There are fields that I don't even bother entering anymore because I have come to find that what they offer every year is of no interest to me. This last show I found that almost all of my purchases were at The Meadows. I picked up some gorgeous circa 1940s painted ceramic parrot lamps that will be gorgeous with new silk raffia shades. A vintage metal 'market' sign, which will grace the wall of my Wellesley store, a beautiful 6' round wooden window frame I will be filling with mirror for a design client and a piece of slate with a custom quote painted on that I couldn't resist buying for my husband, who is an artist.

The best part of spending a day at the Brimfield fair is not the score of a great deal or the excitement of an amazing find. It's seeing items that bring you back to a certain time in your life, a time that you are happy to revisit even if it's while you are standing soaking wet in a field of mud and strangers. And isn't that why we love shopping vintage -- to remind you of where you've been and how far you've come.