There is no better way in my opinion to add some flair to your home than to add a few selectively chosen antiques or vintage pieces.
If you are hunting around antique shops, which are the pieces you should be on the lookout for and which pieces should you avoid even if they look temptingly cheap?
Small pieces Side tables, tray tables, petite writing desks, boxes and the like are just so versatile. Always be on the lookout for attractive examples in fine timbers.
Church pews make great hall or porch seats. They can be cut down – the proportions will still work.
Blanket boxes – great for the end of a bed, look for really nice timber, or else they can be a bit bland.
Lone chairs Dealers love pairs of chairs or intact sets, but look out for chairs in classic styles that can act as occasional chairs. Chairs in classic french styles (bergère, fauteuil) never seem to date and they are extremely comfortable.
In a similar vein, single chairs in the style of Chippendale or Hepplewhite can hold their own.
(I say style because 18th Century originals are quite rare. But lucky you if you locate one!)
Bedside cabinets. Here again, pairs will command a premium but a single cabinet can be useful. If you have a guest bedroom with two single beds, the cabinet can sit between them. It is possible to pair different side cabinets although you need to consider scale and height to do this.
Big decorative vases – anything in blue and white, or monochrome glazes can look very handsome when filled with fresh flowers or converted in to the base for a lamp.
Prints – I always check to see what’s on the walls. Original etchings or lithographs can be found. Also look for nice mirrors or sconces for your hall or powder room.
Things to avoid
Recent reproductions. Check to see if the patina on piece is in fact artificially created. Items that are particularly saleable are prone to be reproduced.
Commodes and Washstands. Anything that has been used for you-know-what is undesirable in my view.
Victorian balloon back chairs. Like a lot of heavy Victorian furniture, these chairs just don’t seem to sit happily in any modern interior.
Sewing tables. The ones with fabric bags hanging from them. Or the ones with built in sewing machines which will detract from whatever you put on them.
Piano stools. Fairly common, these don’t really work as seats or benches.
Small knick kacks that don’t make a statement – china, glassware etc. EPNS (electroplated silver) is not worth bothering with.
Lastly, pass on anything expensive that you lack expertise to evaluate. If you would like any advice on incorporating antiques in your home, please do get in touch!