If you love antiques but don’t know how or where to shop for them, you might be under the impression that you’ll just have to live without your dream vintage furniture. But the reality is, there are actually tons of places you can shop for vintage pieces and antiques online. In fact, according to Margaret Schwartz, owner of Modern Antiquarian, online business is booming. “We don’t really see hesitation from buyers when it comes to a price point threshold or a certain kind of product anymore,” she tells House Beautiful.
“Understand your level of expertise, and determine what you’re comfortable spending on a purchase,” Schwartz advises. “If you’re just dipping your toes in the water, I highly recommend starting low-risk with accessories, textiles, or lighting. You can often get good deals, and these items should have detailed photos and descriptions with easy to understand measurements.”
Along with those smaller, low-risk accessories, there are some items Schwartz thinks are better than others—or at least less risky—to buy online.
“We highly recommend buying tables and case goods online,” she says. “These are pieces that have a lot of photos showing the details of the finish, joinery, overall quality, and interesting details. There is less of a surprise when buying a cocktail table or chest of drawers, so we definitely recommend looking at those if you’re in the market.”
On the other hand, upholstered pieces can a little harder to shop online, and Schwartz says you should ask yourself some important questions before buying. “Do you have all the measurements? Do you know what you find comfortable in terms of seat height and overall hight? What kind of cushion is it, and is that a cushion you find comfortable? What is the pitch of the back, and is it appropriate for the space you’re thinking?” Of course, just because it’s more challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible. “When you can’t sit on something, it does make it a bit more of a gamble, so just make sure to ask about all the measurements in detail and get as many photos as possible,” Schwartz suggests.”
Another important thing to note? Dealers are happy to answer your questions. “We love talking about our treasures!” Schwartz says. “Don’t be afraid to politely ask about anything at all, and if you feel a good connection to a dealer then go ahead and buy.” Schwartz also adds that shoppers should look for return policies, noting that most dealers have them but they vary from place to place, so you should ask to be sure.
Schwartz is also here to let you in on a little secret: “We do recommend when you’re searching for something, try alternate spellings and typos,” she says. “You’d be shocked how many things are misspelled or have a typo in them. If you’re looking for a bombe, try something like ‘bombay.'” Schwartz also notes that some people use terms like cocktail table and coffee table interchangeably, so you should widen your search to include a variety of terms.
No matter what, the most important thing is to check the measurements. “Please, please, please double check the measurements,” Schwartz says. “The last thing you want is to find a seemingly great deal online, only to realize it’s more appropriate for Dollhouse Beautiful instead of your beautiful house.”
Note: If you’re looking to shop smaller or locally, especially to support those businesses now when non-essential businesses are closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, you should feel empowered to check out the shops near you to see what they have available online. Schwartz says that now is a great time to buy to show your support, and in that instance, to be patient with dealers as it may take them longer to answer your questions due to travel restrictions. You can also still try to bargain, but be thoughtful about it. “You can explain that you want to continue to support the industry during this challenging period and you hope that they can do better on this piece that you love,” she says. “If you come from a place of offering support and love for the industry, then generally your offer or inquiry will be well-received.”
Yes, your favorite place to buy handmade, personalized gifts is also a treasure trove of antiques and vintage pieces. Head to the site’s vintage section, select the furniture category, and then you can browse by room—living room furniture, dining room furniture, bedroom furniture, and office furniture are all options.
SHOP NOW etsy.com
This should come as no surprise, but everyone’s favorite auction site is a great destination for vintage furniture, especially if you have specific pieces you’re looking for. Browse the site (or search by keywords like “vintage” or “antique” or even by decade) to see what’s out there, and get bidding.
SHOP NOW ebay.com
Along with tons of contemporary, high-end furniture and decor, One Kings Lane has a vintage section online where you can find all sorts of coveted pieces. Search by your favorite styles, like French Parlor, Cape Cod Cottage, English Library, and more.
SHOP NOW onekingslane.com
Jayson Home doesn’t just sell antiques and vintage furniture, but the Flea section of the site has a small-but-mighty collection to offer in both furniture and decor. Look at the pieces that have just arrived, or shop by type (tables, seating, case goods, rugs, etc.) There’s even a fun “Curiosities” category full of delightfully unique items.
SHOP NOW jaysonhome.com
The team at Rejuvenation doesn’t just sell antiques and vintage furniture from every historical style, they restore them, too. You’ll find seating, tables, and case goods in a range of styles that you can narrow your search by, or you can shop by room if you prefer.
SHOP NOW rejuvenation.com
When you head to Chairish’s vintage and used furniture section, you’ll find more than 85,000 (eighty five! thousand!) results to browse through. Narrow by price, style (Mid-Century Modern, Hollywood Regency, Art Deco, and more) and even search for items that are available for local pickup near you.
SHOP NOW chairish.com
1stdibs’ inventory is so huge, their 45,000 square-foot New York City gallery is only a measly one percent of what they have to offer. Seriously, there are nearly 500,000 listings under the furniture category alone. Shop by period, style, material, and even place of origin to find exactly what you want.
SHOP NOW 1stdibs.com
Nate Berkus Associates partner Lauren Buxbaum Gordon‘s parents own this Chicago shop, which, as she tells House Beautiful, “carries some of the best old cabinets and commodes.” You’ll find antiques and vintage pieces as well as a custom furniture collection, with hundreds of items to choose from. Shop new discoveries or even check out the store’s holiday gift guides.
SHOP NOW oldplank.com
Schwartz’s own shop supports online buying, with quite the selection available for browsing (as of now, there are 25 pages of products to click through!). There, everything from 18th century silver champagne buckets to carved chests of drawers and crystal chandeliers awaits you.
SHOP NOW modernantiquarianshop.com
Everything But The House is basically everything there is to love about estate sales (one-of-a-kind pieces, amazing deals) but online. It’s an estate sale auction marketplace, where you can bid on items in just about every style from every era. You can even shop by manufacturer, if there are particular brands you know you love.
SHOP NOW ebth.com
If you’re all about that mid-century modern life, definitely check out Mid Century Mobler, one of the leading mid-century furniture dealers in the U.S. There, you’ll find all the ’50s and ’60s furniture of your dreams—all of which has been hand-selected and imported from buying trips to Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, France, and Italy.
SHOP NOW midcenturymobler.com
Pamono is the place for you if you want vintage pieces tailored to your exact aesthetic. Why? Because they’ve got an entire “Custom Vintage” section, made possible through a partnership with textile company Kvadrat. Choose from several vintage seating pieces, and have them reupholstered in the fabrics of your choosing.
SHOP NOW pamono.com
Okay, so it’s not technically a store, but Schwartz says that Instagram is “a hot ticket people haven’t fully caught onto yet in terms of buying antiques,” adding that she finds amazing deals from solid dealers all the time on the social media platform. Searching a dealer’s Instagram page will give you a good idea who their clients are, what their reputation is like, and what their expertise is, she explains. “Then you can look them up to see if they sell on vetted sites or if they have reviews—just do a bit of research to make sure you feel comfortable buying from them. And, if you find them on Instagram and buy directly from them, you’ll often get a better deal.”
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