TRASH VS TREASURE
Refurbishing & restoring antique and retro furniture
Trash vs treasure, the secret formula antique dealers keep well hidden. I had the unique mindset of reselling furniture as a motive, therefore it was a different approach to shopping, but you can adopt a few simple rules of thumb when antique shopping.
10 Hot Tips on buying antique furniture.
- Buy pieces at yard sales, flea markets, and Goodwill or Salvation Army (video blog post on this subject soon to follow!)
- Trust your instincts, buy any furniture that catches your eye immediately, because that first impression is important for one surprising reason; if you are really fond of your new piece, doing research about the style, origin and era will be fun and interesting.
- If you love the piece, buy it. Chances are that if you cannot spruce it up, someone like me can. I love the satisfaction of restoring old beauties! Don’t hesitate if it speaks to you, these are often the pieces that mean the most to us, the ones we nurture to their greatness.
- Be aware of reproductions, and fake antiques.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts, because most sellers are pretty highly motivated to get rid of the piece, the worst they can say will be no.
- Inspect the item you are interested in, pick it up, turn it around, get a feel for how much work is involved, this may affect your decision to purchase this item, such as are the joints loose, is it cracked in a difficult spot, can I handle the gluing & clamping myself?
- The best pieces are in the most surprising places, don’t be afraid to stop at any flea market or little antique store. The less busy it seems, the more likely they will be motivated to move their inventory.
- I guess this is a very NYC habit of us all, but, do not offer cash money, negotiate the best price possible for paying by check or credit card first. Once you have your card or check book ready, ask if there is an extra discount for paying with cash. Almost every seller prefers cash, therefore this is a very effective trick to use.
- Keep your mind open, sometimes the most impressive furniture can come from combining old & new. I’ve made some outstanding pieces out of humdrum old chairs with fabulous and unexpected fabric!
- It’s modern times! If you buy more than you can transport, have a plan to get it home via delivery or even Uber transport. I always keep blankets/towels in my trunk just in case I see a “must have” so I can bring my darling home wrapped up safely.
Where to buy antique furniture?
These are some of my favourite places to snag cheap antique furniture. Don’t let geography stop you, there’s nothing as fun (or romantic) as a little weekend road trip to antique hunt.
Local auction house
Fairs, flea markets
Roadside/Curbside freebies, if it’s not labelled “BEDBUGS”, chances are you’re good to go!
What furniture to buy?
- Stick with antique furniture made of hardwoods: oak, walnut, mahogany, etc.
- Buy antique furniture that is well constructed.
- Consider buying antique furniture that is slightly damaged . Missing or broken pieces are difficult to repair for most people, but not for me, I have some of the finest craftsmen on my team to replicate virtually any finial, he shocks me all the time with his skill. So if you aren’t confident in repairing yourself, I’m here to help. Take a look through my gallery to see some of the beautiful pieces we have rebuilt over the years.
Until next time,