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Our Vintage Furniture Buying Guide

Updated: May 18, 2019

There are lots of reasons to buy vintage furniture: you can pay less, get a piece with a history, and support recycling in your community! But without the proper planning, the shopping process can be overwhelming. When you’re on your next furniture hunt, use this guide to shop vintage like a pro.

Think before you shop

The wealth of options at vintage stores can be a lot to handle. Walking through endless rows of furniture is like strolling through the supermarket hoping that complete meals will fall into your cart. To shop like a professional designer, visualize the perfect item for your space, and then start shopping. Think about what you need from the piece, including:

The feel

Should it be sleek and modern? Ultra comfy? Imagine the vibe and the sensations that this furniture should inspire. Think of some key adjectives and write them down.

The color palette

Does the room need a contrasting color to keep things interesting, or an analogous one to tie things together? If you’re not sure, here’s a guide to answer these questions. Think of some color options and write them down.

The measurements

Don’t fall in love with a piece, only to find out it won’t fit in your home! Measuring (and re-measuring) is a necessity. Measure the minimum and maximum sizes that will work in your space. Measure your front door, hallways, and stairs or elevator. And most importantly, write those measurements down.

This piece of paper with your style adjectives, color options, and measurements is your equivalent of a shopping list. Feel free to add other criteria, such as your total budget. Now that you’ve done your homework, you can hit the stores with confidence.

Image Credit: Lina Castaneda

Shop around

The right piece of furniture isn’t going to find you (unless you’ve hired an interior designer, that is!). These suggestions can make your search a whole lot easier:

Try different stores

You likely have lots of shopping options for vintage furniture, so take full advantage. One great strategy is to start with the lower priced stores and work your way up. Mixing online and offline options can be helpful too. Also, look out for unique opportunities to find hidden gems, like pop-up flea markets or social media shops.

Go prepared

Don’t leave home without:

  • Your shopping list from earlier

  • Your measurements and your tape measurer

  • Photos of the room - even better, real fabric samples and paint chips!

Don’t rush it

Finding the right piece will take patience. Don’t wear yourself out! Shopping tired is a great way to waste money on the wrong furniture. Spread out your store visits, like stopping by one place on your way home from work. If you’re not totally sure that a piece a good fit, it’s always better to take pictures and go home to check.

Know what you’re buying

Once you’ve found a piece that matches your list, take a moment to get to know it. You’re inviting it home to live with you, after all! Take a look from all angles, feel it, and examine the craftsmanship. The shop’s employees will happily explain where products come from and how they’re made, so don’t be shy about asking questions.

A note about price: secondhand furniture can still be expensive! But you get what you pay for: well made furniture is more comfortable, more durable, and often easier on the eyes. You can also resell higher quality items for higher prices later. However, if you’re more excited by an exceptional deal than the beautiful artisanal details, follow your instincts. Just don’t forget that at any price point, there’s usually room for negotiations!

Image found via Pinterest

Close the deal

Plan out the logistics of your purchase before paying. Do you need to come back with a Uhaul? Do you need to try removing the legs of the table so it will fit through your door? Delivery can be worth the extra cost - and if the store doesn’t deliver, there are services like Dolly that will help you out.

With all that out of the way, congratulations - you’re done! Hopefully you just bought a comfortable sofa so you can kick back and enjoy your victory.

We want to see your favorite vintage furniture! Post pictures of your finds to Instagram and use the hashtag #vintageLQ


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