A Shopper’s Guide to Scoring Quality Vintage Furniture
Vintage furniture can be a real conundrum, sometimes.
Once displayed appropriately, adorning your home with quality vintage pieces can truly make or break the look of a room, transforming it from the mundane to the magnificent.
There’s no doubt that carefully selected pieces bring a space to life, but where to start? How do you locate those killer items that add such history and character to living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms? What materials and designs should we be hunting for? And what about the lingo - do you really need to know your Art Deco from your mid-century, or can you bluff your way through?
Fear not, WSG is on the case. This week, we’ve put together a handy selection of tips to help you discover your vintage niche, as well as what you should really be looking for when browsing the plethora of options out there. Without any further ado, let’s delve deeply into the wonderful world of vintage furniture shopping.
1. Online Shopping Has Never Been a Better Option
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, grabbing goods online was becoming more and more accepted as the norm. The convenience of paying for items from the comfort of your own home has always been a more accessible choice for many, but ever since 2020 it’s also now a truly safe option.
To some, buying something as personal as vintage furniture may at first glance require one of those necessary trips to a physical store to tangibly feel items, make measurements and even give them a test run.
But almost all of this is now accounted for on the majority of furniture websites. Every product on our WSG site contains an ‘Info + Dimensions’ tab that conveniently lists all the necessary attributes you’re looking for, including materials, weights, dimensions, designs and special features.
For example, something as gorgeous as our vintage inspired Butterfly Chair has all its relevant details accounted for, so you know exactly what you’re getting and how to introduce it into your space. Vintage furniture shopping online has never been easier or safer during these strange times.
2. Look for Individual Pieces
Vintage furniture isn’t your standard, everyday purchase. Whilst you may be tempted to buy several generic bar stools in a matching set or grab four of the same chair because it makes for a uniform look, vintage pieces tell far more of a story about both the history of the item itself, and also the individual style of the purchaser.
A truly stunning vintage item of furniture makes a great statement piece and is also a physical expression of an affinity a homeowner has towards a certain era
So, when you’re going down the retro path, always consider having a handful of quality different pieces that blend together well, rather than formulaic sets of the same item that do nothing to emphasise your unique sense of style.
Think of vintage furniture as an extension of your individualism – one truly knock-out piece, such as our mid-century Hairpin Chair makes far more noise than a cheap set of uninspired, bland seating that does nothing to enhance the look of your home.
3. Know Your Eras
You knew this one was coming! Ok, so you don’t need to be an historian in order to choose appropriate vintage furniture for the home, but doing a little bit of quality research into your dream set-up goes an awfully long way.
Strictly speaking, furniture is officially classified as vintage if the design is more than twenty years old, but lines are often blurred. One firm favourite period for many is Art Deco, typically spanning from 1920 to 1945. The equally popular mid-century era overlaps this, described as any furniture designed from 1933 to 1965.
However, some may argue that this timeline should be limited to the late forties and fifties, so it depends on who you ask! There is always scope for flexibility with vintage furniture so don’t worry about getting it perfect.
The key here is to discover what you love – following the latest vintage trends can keep you looking in vogue for longer, but choosing a piece that appeals to you is the best indication that you should go for it. Instinct counts for a lot when it concerns personal style!
4. Choose a Unique, Iconic Design
Everyone has different tastes and preferences, most especially regarding furniture. The twentieth century was famous for having a whole host of wonderfully unique, distinctive designers that created furniture now considered both timeless and vintage.
We have a fantastic collection of eponymous classics at WSG, and there’s definitely something for everyone!
For those of you into wood and rattan with a twist, pretty much anything by Pierre Jeanneret is going to be your cup of tea. Our stunning Adagio Chair is based on the Swiss architect’s (turned furniture designer) iconic 1950s model, a real treat for the home.
If Jeanneret is a little too conventional for you, how about one of the most iconic cantilever chair designs in history?
Our Cesca Chair is modelled on Marcel Breuer’s classic 1928 shape and provides beautifully clean lines for a dining room or kitchen setting. This was also the first chair to use tubular steel as part of its construction and has often been referred to as “among the 10 most important chairs of the 20th century”. Now that’s some endorsement!
Still not had your fill of perfect vintage pieces? Ok, for a truly indulgent statement piece for the living room or bedroom, how about an Argentinian design that easily can put claim to being one of the most comfortable chairs of all time?
Back in 1938, three Argentine architects (Bonet, Kurchan and Hardoy) put their heads together to create what is now an iconic twentieth century masterpiece in vintage furniture creation.
The ‘BKF chair’ was originally designed for ‘siesta sitting’ - quite literally a chair to snooze the afternoon away, but its outlandish styling propelled it to international fame. Our Butterfly Chair is a wonderful recreation of the original design, plus we offer this beauty in twelve different finishes!
A few other things to consider:
Size Matters -
- Vintage furniture needs to be on display – you’re buying it because you want to show off your individual sense of style, not to be stored away.
- With this in mind, make sure that whatever you buy can fit inside your home, or for a particular room that you’ve got in mind. Vintage pieces soon become part of the character of your space, so make sure you plan out where they’re going to go beforehand.
- Buying vintage shouldn’t mean ‘buying cheap’. A lot of genuinely old items found in antiques shops can often be poorly made. Furniture of poor quality can be found from every era, so don’t assume just because something is old that it’s bound to be well-made. New items in vintage style often combine the vintage look with modern day assembly, giving you the best of both worlds.
- The more you buy something because you love it, the longer it will be an integral part of your home décor, and the longer you’ll think fondly of it years down the line.
- Vintage furniture isn’t a ‘throwaway trend’, it’s a deep expression of your love for a particular era, design, material and shape, so pick something that speaks to you and you’ll thank yourself later for being so considerate in your choices.
We hope that these tips have been useful - you’ll soon be well on your way to creating a unique vintage set-up that’s a wonderful expression of your individual style. Keep hunting for those pieces that you’ve always dreamed of, as you’ll never know where or when you might find them!
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