If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that I dearly love to shop secondhand for vintage and older pieces of furniture. There has been a huge surge in that market in the last 10 years, but I have been shopping that way for much longer than that. When I first set up house and started shopping for furniture, I had heard about antiques, but always thought they were way out of my price range. I didn’t think I could afford real antiques. Well, let me clarify that. I can’t afford the ones we see on Antiques Roadshow…those priceless heirlooms that were centuries old and worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those kinds of antiques were not in my budget then or now.
But, I quickly found out that I could afford vintage pieces, those mass produced pieces of furniture from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s that were plentiful and showing up in antiques stores and thrift stores all over the country. Solid wood furniture never goes out of style and that’s what I’ve built the bones of my home with. Good, solid pieces of furniture that have served me well for years.
I can remember hunting down and bringing home every single one of these and the thrill of the hunt was part of the appeal. I will still buy new sofas and chairs for the most part and I won’t say I’ll never replace any of my pieces, but I am pretty content with the collection I’ve put together and don’t have a desire to constantly make changes around here. Mixing old and new is the best way to get that eclectic and unique look in your house, not to mention it’s just plain fun to hunt down the bargains.
I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite pieces with you and how I came to find them. Antiques are considered real antiques when they are 100 years or older and I’m happy to say I have a few of those.
This over 100 year old mirror came from Chattanooga, TN. I was up there over 20 years ago with friends and found this in a dusty antique shop. It’s the first antique I ever bought and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The shop owner told me it came from an old bar/saloon in the area and I can see how that could be.
I love having pieces that are unique and not mass produced and that’s what you get when you shop vintage. This old French 1880’s cupboard is like nothing I had ever seen and I found it at Scott Antiques year ago. It’s one of the most expensive pieces I’ve bought, but if I remember correctly it was $1,200. Not bad when you consider the cost of new furniture and how much more appealing an older piece is for the long haul.
This marble topped plant stand came from an estate sale in the last couple of years. I thought it was so pretty and had to have it and at $35, it was a great deal. It actually came from a good friend’s dad’s estate, so it’s extra special to me. The Italian wine bottle on top is old as well.
This solid wood Henredon piece came from a yardsale too, at $25. It was a natural wood when I bought it and it’s gone from black to this pretty navy blue in our bedroom. It’s the perfect place to put on makeup.
I love color and definitely use color around our house. This armillary was $25 at a yardsale years ago and I still have it and display it on a glass table in our living room.
Family pieces are hard to come by in our family, since neither side of my family had much to pass down. I cherish this little mass produced side table from my grandma on my dad’s side. I claimed this one after her death and my dad brought it home. It’s not fancy, but it’s part of my heritage.
My mahogany buffet in the dining room is another classic piece that I’ve had for year. I bought it from an antiques store on the Marietta square years ago when there were many more antiques shops than there are now. I think I paid $550 for it, a bargain by today’s standards for something new of the same quality. If you try to go out to the furniture stores and buy new pieces that are all wood, you’ll definitely spend a fortune on real wood and they won’t be made as well as these older pieces are, for the most part.
I spotted this vintage Ethan Allen piece at a thriftstore for $25. I painted the bottom in an Annie Sloan Duck Egg chalk paint and this solid wood piece works just fine for me in our family room. These pics are from both my houses.
This is not a really old piece, but you can pick up so many cute items at antiques shops and thrift stores, which can be repurposed and painted to suit your room. I think this console piece was from Bombay Company originally and I paid $75 for it at an antiques store.
Our guest bedroom is an eclectic mix of styles and periods and I found this vintage Thomasville piece for $400. You can’t go wrong with these older vintage name brand pieces. It’s gotten a little beat up from moving a couple of times and one day I may paint it, who knows. But it’s a good solid piece of furniture.
My old master bedroom has a very old French bonnetiere/armoire that I picked up at Scott Antiques. It’s a beautiful piece, but I don’t have room for it in our new house. But it’s definitely a piece that I love. It was not a big bargain, but a beauty.
Mixing old and new has always been fun for me and I just can’t ever see myself going out and buying a whole new room of anything. That’s not to say that I won’t ever be shopping again, but when I do it will still be a mix of new and vintage. That way of shopping just has the most appeal for me and will always be something I want to incorporate in my house. A room just sings when it’s a mix of collected items and not all brand spanking new!
How about you? Are you mixing old and new?
Susan J. says
You’ve got a great eye for spotting unique and/or overlooked pieces and seeing the potential in them. That’s a talent.
You do have wonderful pieces, Rhoda. It’s amazing the difference in the quality of old pieces vs. now. We just brought home a couple of chairs from my husband’s grandmother’s old home. Yes they will have to be refinished and recovered but the weight of the furniture is so much more substantial. We are excited to incorporate those pieces.
Rita C at Panoply says
Rhoda, I have bought and sold many of the pieces you’ve identified as your own and, yes, they are bargains to buyers! It’s a shame more people don’t shop this way, especially when dealers like myself and many of my dealer friends are willing to scour for great pieces, acting as personal shoppers of sorts, bringing them to antique malls for end users. Most people want flea market pricing after all the work is done for them, so it’s becoming less and less desirable for us to do the picking, hauling, cleaning, finishing for such razor thin profit (or even losses, just to clear the rented space).
I love the bar mirror and the large cupboard from Scotts Market! And the prices for Henredon & Ethan Allen? Incredible. The pieces you’ve painted and added jewelry to are just right – beautiful colors, and just enough scattered to keep things from leaning toward dowdy. Love your style!
HI, Rita, I’m sure dealers have had a harder time of it the last few years, as so many people are jumping on the repurposing bandwagon and doing their own thing with hunting pieces down.
Love antiques, as with antique homes, as they have a patina and story to tell that new furniture just can’t. We have a 200+ yr old dining table and it is slightly bowled in the places that people have sat and dined for two centuries. I always think of all the family meals that have been had here and the many more to come. That the two centuries of plates being moved across it in those spots have left a story of how dining together was and still is an important part of human life.
My motto with mixing old and new is to (usually but not always) mix newer more modern upholstered pieces with antique case goods and tables. As you noted, most were built extremely well, made solidly and would cost the same or more to buy new today. It keeps a home from looking like a furniture store showroom and more like a real home with stories and history.
I agree, Megan, I love the mix of vintage and more modern in upholster pieces and lamps too. I don’t want to look like a dusty antique store with all old.
Love this post, Rhoda. Like you, our families didn’t have a lot. That’s what makes the few pieces we have so special. We got a cedar chiffarobe (remember those?) from my husband’s grandmother. They were used back in the day when bedrooms didn’t have closets, or very small ones. Buddy put shelves inside it, and we use it in our study for office supplies.
Hey, Pam, yes I totally remember those in so many rooms back in the day. My grandma had those in her guest rooms when we would visit growing up.
heidi @ decor & more says
I feel the same way, Rhoda… so fun to mix in older pieces with character — and they’re budget friendly, too!
I still remember my first antique and still have it. I have always loved the mix of old and new. Fortunately my husband came from a family that loved antiques as well and as a result inherited some very nice pieces of furniture along with some very fine first addition antique books, as my father in law was a massive collector. We have paired these thing with new upholstered leather couches and the more modern high leg recliners. Definitely a mix of old and new. Every room in our home is a blend of this style and we have found it to be very comfortable for us. I love how you showcase your things so well. Your home too is very comfortable looking with the older pieces. I loved your blog today. Very nice
Barbara Hunnicutt Moore says
After seeing a Rooms to Go commercial, I wondered why anyone would buy an entire room of matching new furniture. The collected look is so much better, in my opinion. I love all your pieces. Keep me in the loop if you find a new place around here to find bargain treasures!!!
I know! I can’t imagine doing that either, but some younger folks don’t know any better. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure these things out.
Glenda Niederhofer says
Love what you have done/are doing with your decor….mixing old with new. I did a double take when I saw your treadle sewing machine…..the carving on the drawers are identical to the one I have that belonged to my grandmother. The only difference is that mine has 3 drawers on each side. My grandmother died of breast cancer at age 44 in 1947. My grandfather sold her sewing machine to help pay medical bills….I was able to track it down & purchase it back. It means so much to me….I researched the serial number & found that it was manufactured in 1926.
Shelley Stewart says
I love the fact that every piece has a story. If a table could talk, it would tell of family dinners around the table, lovingly home-cooked meals, gatherings of friends, joys shared, problems aired and decisions made. In other words, a piece of vintage furniture has seen some life, and that gives it character. A few surface scratches acquired along the way don’t hurt. It is still useful, especially if you’re creative about how to use it. Scratch cover, polish, paint and the simple desire to save it can easily restore the piece to its former beauty!
I love you mix of old and not do old. I have the child’s dresser also. It has been used by babies in my family for over 55 years!!! Each mom has painted it for their child. The door has even gotten a handpainted scene from a fairytale (about 40 years ago).
Our house is also filled with a mix of old, older and new-ish. Sofas and chairs mostly are new (for comfort) but side tables and storage pieces are a mix of family, estate sales and auction finds. And most of the lamps in our house either I or my father made. I’ve made them out of chinese wedding baskets, big soy sauce tins, selzer bottles and asian blue and white ginger jars. The rest I found at antique malls or shops.
Your Thomasville chest on chest, have you considered Howard Restor-a-finish? It’s a wipe on, wipe off process that cleans and restores a furniture piece without stripping. I’ve used it on many of my pieces. It would make an interesting blog post…
Hi, Patricia, I do have some Howards in my closet and have used it many times. The finish on that piece is shiny, so it wouldn’t make a big difference in the little chips and dings along the drawers that have happened with moves. I still love this piece though, so will keep it.
Barbara Thompson says
Rhoda, I have two Sherrill armchairs that I bought in 1998. Mine look exactly like yours. Question: Did you have the white slipcover made or did it come with it? I need to re-do my chairs but dread the cost of upholstery and though I have made my own slipcovers in the past, am getting too old for that at 82. If readymade are available, I’d be interested.
HI, Barbara, that slipcover was made by my ex’s grandmother, several years ago. It’s worked fine for awhile, but eventually I’d like to get this chair upholstered properly. Check out Surefit, they have improved their slipcovers and you might find something there.
Colleen Myers says
I am totally the same!! Love my Home Goods and Pottery Barn but nothing beats finding an amazing older piece!! Getting it for a bargain is the cherry on top!! I, too, was a bit filled in my home with “things” really needing nothing more. Amazingly we were able to purchase a foreclosed mountain cabin that we are renovating!!! Watch out yard sales, I’m back!!! ?Btw love your blog!! Not to be weird but I know we’d be friends if we lived in the same area!!
THanks, Colleen, I know so many of you love shopping the same way I do.
Rhoda, this may be one of my favorite posts! I loved the tour and stories of your furniture. The thrill of the hunt is so much fun along with imagining the stories a piece of furniture could tell. My best find…a beautifully carved arm chair in pristine condition for less than $50; when I turned it over to recover the seat, I found a brass plate Baker Historic Charleston Furniture. My research showed it originally sold for over $2000!! By the way, I also LOVE all of your drapery fabric. Your home is both beautiful and welcoming.
Roxanne, that is a great story! I would have been so excited about that.
That same Sherrill chair and ottoman I bought new in 1993 and the chair alone cost me more than $800 and the ottoman was like $250 – and it was great. Loved both pieces. Wished I still had them. They disappeared to my daughter’s house – they are still classic which I see in stores but now made in China. I have also covered my couch with white and have had that Sherrill couch since 1993 – and it’s still going (many kids sleepovers have happened on that couch so it was not just a looker).
Joelle, that is good to know. Had no idea how old that chair and ottoman was, but they are in great condition still. The original upholstery is in really good condition, but the colors are not what I use anymore, it’s the golds/moss/rusty red color.
What a fun post to see the different pieces and hear about where you purchased them!
Did you have the white curtains with the blue ikat design made? Also, was the slipcover purchased with the Sherrill chair?
Kellie, those curtains are one of my thriftiest projects ever! They are Ikea drapes ($25 for the pair) that I stencilled using regular craft paint and stencils. Here’s the post I did:
I thought I’d replace them one day, but still like them and they look more expensive than they are. $75 to do all 3 windows.
That slipcover was done by my ex’s grandmother. She helped me with that several years ago and it’s worked well for years.
Furniture finds are so much more interesting to share with friends. When we got married we just didn’t have the funds for new furniture and found that we could buy amazing pieces for $25. Now after 36 years of marriage, I have never owned a formal dining room set. We bought dining room sets that intrigued us at auctions and they came with the buffets and the china cabinets. The cabinets are mini and unusual, so these pieces are spread all over my home. I can’t paint or refinish them, I am in love with their worn would. I cherish these pieces far above my expensive new ones still.
rhoda, your home is so well-crafted but not stuffy. its very inviting, like a viewer could sit down and have a cup of tea with you and chat for hours. my mother used to drag me to musty-smelling thrift shops as a child. she also worked at an antiques auction house, so i developed an eclectic hunter’s eye without realizing it. over the years ive snared some splendid pieces. my philosophy is that everything will go together if they are things that you love. your love for your home is apparent. please keep sharing!
Thank you, Donna, I appreciate that! I do love my home and enjoy being here.
Loved this post! I started collecting “old stuff” out of necessity years ago and learned, like you, it was better made and more my taste. I have found many pieces at estate sales (My fave in ATL are one’s put on by Vintage Girls). My home is a reflection of many Saturday’s rummaging through other’s old treasures. You will see traditional mixed with primitives mixed with pieces that are just too comfortable to pass by. So many were culled from the Lakewood days. Sure miss that place and the fun times there!
Thanks for sharing your pieces with us today.
Susan from GA
Oh Lakewood, how I miss Lakewood! I was lamenting that with someone the other day. That was such a great place to browse on a weekend.