Skip to main content

How to score vintage home decor that looks like new

By Martha Stewart Living Staff, Martha Stewart Living
updated 4:25 PM EST, Wed March 5, 2014
Vintage barware -- and vintage bars -- are easy flea market finds. Vintage barware -- and vintage bars -- are easy flea market finds.
HIDE CAPTION
Easy vintage finds
Easy vintage finds
Easy vintage finds
Easy vintage finds
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New to shopping vintage? Start small for decorative accents
  • Original art from the last two centuries can be found at flea markets
  • Even if a piece is not perfect, it's far more unique than modern manufacturing

(Martha Stewart Living) -- The creative team behind One Kings Lane knows a thing or two about unique interiors. Discover your own eclectic vintage and flea-market finds with the help of these tips from Andrea Stanford, One Kings Lane Vice President of Designer and Vintage Sales, and General Manager of Hunters Alley, the shopping site's just-launched vintage- and handmade-home-goods destination.

Martha Stewart Living: 15 kitchen shortcuts that will change the way you cook

Have Fun!

Never be intimidated by shopping for vintage; it should be fun! Start by educating yourself. I love learning from people who are experts in their fields and truly passionate about their collections. Always ask questions about an item's maker or history. Visit flea markets and antique shows and browse online. As you become more familiar with certain eras or categories of decor, shopping will become so much more fun --- and you can truly enjoy the hunt!

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Martha Stewart Living: 19 tips for perfect laundry every time

Start Small

One of the easiest ways to start collecting vintage is to buy catchalls, vases, and books. They're inexpensive and easy to find. Starting with smaller accents is a low-risk way to get a sense of what styles and eras you're most drawn to.

Martha Stewart Living: 20 super-efficient, super-effective ways to clean all the things

Get Art Smart

Art is another great way to incorporate vintage into your home! Learn the basics about differentiating between an original and a manufactured piece, a limited-edition print, or a great giclee reproduction, so you can begin to understand value and collectability. Browse art from the 19th and 20th centuries and take note of the artists you like. I love finding original works from lesser-known artists, as the prices are much more approachable! And I adore vintage fashion sketches, especially from designers who are still important today.

Martha Stewart Living: Instant organization: Get it together in 15 minutes or less

Embrace the Imperfect

Normal cracking and warping of wood from shrinkage over time is a great indication that you have an original wood piece. Look for maker's marks, high-quality materials (hand-forged nails and dovetailed joints), and great patina. Buying an original design, even if something is not perfect, is far more interesting than bringing a reproduction home!

Martha Stewart Living: Don't shelve these clever bookshelf decorating ideas

Sets and Pairs

Pairs of great-looking vintage lamps are hard to find; if you find the perfect pair, be ready to pounce! Focus on the bases of lamps, as shades are often in poor condition but can be easily replaced. Similarly, full sets of glassware are rare. The great news is that mixing a variety of vintage barware makes cocktail hour even more fun!

Martha Stewart Living: Curb your food cravings with yoga

Measure First

When ordering online, don't be fooled by how large (or small) something looks in a picture! I still have a set of vintage French kitchen cabinets in my garage that were too large to even fit through my front door (I'd thought they would be the perfect addition to my daughter's petite room) and a wicker elephant meant as a toy chest that stands just 10 inches tall.

Always check the measurements online and bring your measuring tape when hitting the flea markets. Some vintage coffee and side tables are too low when placed alongside contemporary furniture. By contrast, many midcentury lamps are more than three feet tall and can be tricky to incorporate into today's interiors. But most important of all, buy what you love! Regardless of the provenance, if you have a special place for it and the price works for you, buy it!

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Living reflects your life. From advice for modern parents to the freshest news in food: It's all here.
updated 3:16 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
They get no tips and none of the glory, but if they didn't show up, the restaurant would go up in flames.
updated 5:06 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
sandra mellott
They're not sexually attracted to other people. But why don't people believe or understand them?
Being an addict's mom: "It's just a very, very sad place."
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Fall brings a wave of new young adult novels, including Carl Hiaasen's first teen novel and the latest from "Pretty Little Liars" author Sara Shephard.
Kendall Jenner is trying to find her own footing in the high-fashion world without her polarizing siblings and parents.
updated 5:40 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Colleges promote affirmative consent in sexual conduct by encouraging students to seek an enthusiastic "yes."
Tommy Hilfiger home
At his Miami home: "If it's not shagadelic or groovy, it's not coming into the house."
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
cara reedy
Cara Reedy was born with dwarfism, and that's all that some people can see.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT