Veranda Magazine asked top designers what you need to know, read the article below to see what Reed & Acanthus had to say.
Considering we do almost everything online these days from ordering groceries, to hunting for antique jewelry, it was only a matter of time before we started looking for decor online. And while we're sure you have your go-tos when it comes to your favorite stores to buy beautiful furniture pieces for your space, with the increased interest in vintage furniture, you might want to look at purchasing a unique item with staying power.
Well keep reading because we spoke to Feldman and New Orleans based designer Katharine Kelly Rhudy of Reed & Acanthus to determine everything you need to know about buying vintage furniture online, so you can purchase with confidence and find the piece of your dreams.
1. Know where to look.
“While shopping for vintage furniture online can be tough, there are generally a few places you can rely on for quality goods,” says Feldman. “Etsy is a go-to, as well as some estate sales.” Feldman also recommends Soul Fed Home and Linda's Barn, stating that they are curated by trusted experts, who check authenticity and are reliable sources when it comes to finding vintage furniture.
“1st Dibs, Chairish, and One Kings Lane are my go-to online vintage stores because of their large volume of inventory and high quality standards; plus the sellers and dealers are vetted and monitored,” adds Rhudy.
However, both designers are quick to note that even when you’re purchasing from what is considered a reliable source, it’s possible that those curators might miss something—so, doing some of your own research is vital when purchasing vintage furniture online (more on that below).
2. Be careful of the warning signs.
When looking online at a description for a vintage piece, Rhudy says there are a few suspicious warning signs to keep in mind. For instance, if the pictures are blurry or too few, and you aren’t able to get any more from the seller, it’s likely that they’re trying to rip you off, she says.
Craftsmanship is also key to look for: “Vintage pieces are generally much better constructed than modern-day furniture, so you’ll want to look for items that were made by hand,” she adds. If you aren’t given exact details about dimensions or the seller doesn’t want to prove authenticity by giving you exact dates, stamps, labels, or other records, you should absolutely move on. “It suggests they have something to hide,” she says.
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3. Make sure to get some form of authenticity label.
“Look for labels or stamps to authenticate the maker,” says Rhudy. “Pay attention to dates, too: You're usually safe with pieces made before 1970, and always ask if there have been repairs, in case the item looks a bit different from the photos.”
Other forms of authenticity include original purchase receipts, documents from reputable auction houses (such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s), professional appraisals done by trusted, vetted experts, or historic records detailing the furniture’s story.
“I wouldn’t purchase something without a label, because having one is really the best bet that the item you have is authentic,” she adds. “Also, if you yourself want to resell in the future or pass the item down to future generations, having this label on hand is vital—not to mention, it also allows you to insure your piece if it’s particularly valuable.”
4. Don’t be afraid to do some sprucing.
“I will say that one thing you shouldn’t be afraid of when it comes to vintage shopping online is signs of wear and tear,” says Rhudy. “Buy what you like, and don't be overly concerned with outdated upholstery, small scratches, or uneven finishes because there are ways to upgrade a piece if it’s not in absolutely perfect condition.”
In fact, many designers appreciate those items that have these markings on them, because they add character and show the item was well-loved. After all, a quick rewiring of lights, a fresh coat of paint, or some new fabric can do wonders.
“An imperfect vintage item can really tell the story of the item, and those individual markings help its uniqueness,” says Feldman. “However, you need to make sure that the item has good bones. Cracked wood, broken drawers, or paintings that have lost their luster can be harder to fix, and expensive in the long run.” Make sure to check in and see, through pictures and videos, as well as by speaking to your dealer, whether your piece will need major restoration before purchasing.
5. Build relationships.
“Once you’ve found a great dealer or space, it’s vital to keep the conversation going,” says Rhudy. Many times, you can share your preferences with the sellers, and they can alert you when another item is available that you might love, or if they have a specific thing you’re looking for. That personal relationship will likely give you first dibs on an item that’s rare and desired by many.
“Check in often, share pictures of your new item in the home as well as similar pieces you love, share your budget, and recommend the seller to friends,” adds Rhudy. After all, finding a trusted person in the vintage space is priceless, especially one with a trained eye and a penchant for finding pieces you love.
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