With Ontario currently in lockdown, there's no antiquing going on around here for awhile, but that doesn't mean I can't dream about it.
First of all, when did "antiquing" become a word that filled me with joy? That is definitely not a word my younger self would have imagined talking about without some kind of implied irony ("What am I doing this weekend? Oh just going antiquing, ha ha ha, can you imagine..."). These days just the very idea is the stuff dreams are made of.
Once you start collecting, it's hard to go back to picking up random items from big box stores because they don't have any kind of meaning. When you go thrifting or picking and find a gem, it will always remind you of that particular day with that particular shopping buddy, and the thrill of excitement when you spotted that treasure you knew was meant to come home with you.
But have you ever walked into an antique store and had no idea where to start? Or ended up buying some random thing that ends up gathering dust in the basement? I have too, and I've thrifted many an item that end up returning from whence it came and being re-donated to the thrift store.
It takes time and practice, but I've got some tips to make your next trip to the antique store a success. As soon as this lockdown lifts, it will be prime season for picking so get ready to treasure hunt!
Rule #1: Throw out your shopping list before you go
Yes, it's always good to have a plan. You might be looking at a certain little spot and thinking that you want to go look for the perfect little piece that just completes the look. But if you go hunting with very specific ideas and expectations, you might end up leaving disappointed.
It's one of those things; I find I never find the thing that I go looking for. I might go in thinking "I need a really cool antique jar to use as a vase, I always see those and now I finally need one" but I can almost guarantee there will be none to be found that particular day.
So go in with your mental wish list, but prepare to be flexible and let the surprises find you. Which leads me to my next rule...
Rule #2: Trust your eye
Antique shops are overwhelming! Sometimes they are neat and organized, and sometimes they look like an insane hoarder's nest with STUFF just piled to the rafters (these ones are totally my fav, but not for the faint of heart). Where to begin?
I usually start off wandering and admiring, but notice what catches your eye. If you find yourself drawn to a certain item or area, investigate a little closer. If an item intrigues you or you just think it looks cool, it might just be the thing you didn't know you were looking for.
This is the fun part, but practicality has to kick in some time. And so along comes the next rule...
Rule #3: The "where are you going to put that?" rule
Guys, I hate this rule. It shuts down a lot of impulse buys before they get serious. It has also been uttered by my husband many times (if I was foolish enough to bring him along). Okay fine, it's pretty, but do I actually have room for that credenza or a gigantic wooden crate? Probably not.
However, if you think for a few moments and visually run through your space and can come up with a plausible spot for it, go for it! Gifts are another excellent way to justify smaller items for the vintage lover...but please, don't buy enormous/confusing items unless you know that person's taste beyond a shadow of doubt.
Rule #4: Look for imperfections
In my world, imperfections are a good thing. If you're hunting for vintage, you need to embrace chips, cracks, rust, and other kinds of "damage" because those are what make it beautiful.
Also, be careful if something looks too perfect because it might not be that old. As a general rule of thumb, antiques are 100 years old or older while vintage is 20 years old or older. So that means something from Target in the early 2000's would qualify as a vintage item technically. If it looks to perfect to be vintage, it probably is.
Rule #5: Walk through twice
I usually do a lap before I get serious about any items. For one thing, there's so much to see you'll notice more on the second trip. Also, you'll remember your favourites and you may have had a chance to mull things over and figure out that you do indeed have a spot in your home for that piece that caught your eye the first time.
Try these rules out next time you go hunting and hopefully you will come home with a few new treasures. Try not to overdo it either...it's way better to enjoy the process and come home with one amazing item you can't wait to display rather than bags of stuff you might use one day.
Hope these help, and happy picking!