5 Expert Tips for Buying Vintage Furniture

Blogger and antiques enthusiast Laura Putnam gives us a quick lesson in shopping vintage.


The home of blogger Lauren Putnam.

The key to a well-appointed house, according to blogger Laura Putnam of Finding Home, lies in what she calls “the mix.”

“If everything is new or everything is vintage, the overall look can be flat,” she says. “It is how you mix styles and pieces that give your home an interesting and personalized quality.” She calls her own style “revisited traditional,” and it is indeed an aesthetic amalgamation. “My style is rooted in traditional, but I love adding other elements including modern, rustic and vintage,” she says.

To achieve this balanced blend of old-meets-new, Putnam relies on regular visits to thrift stores, vintage shops and antiques markets, where she uncovers the pieces that lend her home its one-of-a-kind patina.

If you’re new to the idea of thrifting or antiques shopping, or have had less-than-stellar experiences with it in the past, read on, because we got Putnam (whose curated sale for Joss & Main launches Tuesday, April 1 at 9:00 p.m.) to share her top tips for buying vintage furniture. But we’re warning you now: All it takes is one perfect piece, and you’ll be hooked.

finding home blog  modern vintage home decor1_circleAlways have your measurements on you.
Vintage shopping will be a lot more productive if you are prepared. “If you are looking for something for a specific space, keep a little sheet in your wallet with the measurements so you are always ready if you find something that you love,” Putnam suggests.

2_circleKeep an open mind with where you shop.
You know what they say about one man’s trash. “Sometimes the places that look like a hot mess have the  best treasures inside. I shop at yard sales, estate sales, auctions and vintage shops alike,” she says.

3_circleTry to look past what you see in front of you.
Putnam always tries to see the potential in a piece before she dismisses it. “Think about what something would be like if you painted it or reworked it. The pieces I have reworked and personalized are some of my favorite pieces.”

4_circleDon’t be afraid to negotiate.
Vintage and thrift shops will often be more open to working with you on the price of an item than the average retail store. This is because the items are often one-of-a-kind, and really only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Putnam’s number one negotiation tip? “Just like in all things, being nice makes a whole lot of difference,” she says. Plus, you might even learn more about the piece by striking up a conversation about it with the shopkeeper. “One of my favorite parts of shopping vintage is talking with and hearing the stories of the people selling them,” she says.

5_circleDon’t let the good ones get away.
When you’re vintage shopping, “sleeping on it,” doesn’t really apply, since by the time you decide you really want an item, it might be gone. “If you find something you LOVE but you don’t know what you would do with it, bring it home,” Putnam advises. “Of course, don’t spend beyond your means, but you will always think about that ‘one that got away,’ if you lose out on a great piece.”sign_off

-Kaitlin Madden

The next step? Shop the pieces to pair with your new vintage finds on Joss & Main!