Shopping vintage furniture isn't easy. In fact, it can take years to get to know all the dos and don'ts when it comes to sourcing and purchasing vintage furniture. Nobody wants to spend a good chunk of time finding something they like and take it home only to find out it is of poor quality and not exactly as described by the person who sold it.
Shopping vintage can be overwhelming, time consuming and expensive but it can also be a joy, a unique shopping experience and you can end up with very reasonable priced furniture if you find something made by an excellent furniture maker or craftsman.
This blog post will cover everything you need to be aware of and look for when you source and purchase vintage furniture online, on a market or in a second hand shop. It's written based on many years of experience in sourcing, buying and reselling Danish Vintage Furniture both locally in Denmark and within the UK.
Let's get to it.
Danish Vintage Sideboard available at NABOshop
Do your research
In order to source and purchase really good quality vintage furniture you need to do a little research beforehand. It will make it much easier to find the good pieces if you know what you like, what your needs are, and what your budget is.
Researching your options will make it easier for you to find out what you can expect in terms of quality, condition and other things such as wood type, where the piece is manufactured and if you can afford to go for a well-known furniture maker or if you should focus on getting a piece from a respected factory instead.
When you start your research start with googleling boarder terms like "Danish Vintage Furniture" or "Danish Mid-Century Modern Furniture". Browse the different images and websites that come up or search for the same terms on Pinterest. Using Pinterest is always a good idea when it comes to furniture: it will not only show you different options but it will also give you an idea of how vintage furniture look in different homes.
This approach will hopefully give you a good idea of what you're after and now the real fun begins.
Danish Vintage Coffee Table by Severin Hansen available at NABOshop
Once you've established what you like, need and can afford it's about refining your search as much as possible. Instead of searching for broad terms like "Danish Vintage Furniture" bear in mind all the things you learned from your first search.
You should now have answers to these questions: "do I prefer rosewood or teak", "do I need lots of storage space", "do I like open or closed pieces of furniture" and "is it important for me to know where it is manufactured". Knowing the answers to all these questions is what makes it possible to take the next step.
Now search for narrow terms like "Danish Vintage Coffee table in Rosewood by Severin Hansen" or "Danish Vintage Teak Sideboard with Shelves". The refined search will give you an idea of what condition you can expect for the piece of furniture you like, the price range those pieces are sold for and exactly where to find them.
The second search will get you familiar with what's on the market and knowing the market makes it easier to spot overpriced pieces, bad quality and which sellers to trust and who to avoid.
Which leads us on to the next thing on the list.
Danish Vintage Coffee Table by Severin Hansen available at NABOshop
Read between the lines
Now that you've narrowed your search it is good practise to read each description carefully and pay attention to the condition of the piece.
A rule of thumb is this: if the description is very well written and detailed it's probably a trustworthy seller who is passionate about what they do. If the seller hasn't touched on the condition or any flaws it's probably because it's too bad to mention. You know the saying - if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Don't be afraid to ask for more photos or closeups of things listed in the description. It is good practise for the seller to include it on the page but if it's not there you're in your right to ask for more photos. Buying vintage furniture online means you not always get a chance to see the piece before you buy, but on the other hand it's comforting to know that most online sellers have a reasonable return policy.
Whether you should go for a renovated piece or “the authentic thing” depends on what you prefer and what you can afford. Renovated items are often more expensive but it can be hard on the furniture if it isn't done with care. However, you shouldn’t let scratches scare you away. Minor flaws can be fixed fairly easy, but they also make the piece look more authentic.
If you're looking to purchase a sofa or an armchair make you get to see a closeup of the fabric as well as a general description of it's condition. It can be costly if you need to have if upholstered, so if there's a need for new fabric it should be reflected in the price.
It's all these little (but very important) things that can be the significant difference between a good purchase and a really unfortunate one.
Avoid Fakes and Poor Quality
This is typically two things that go hand in hand. If you can't afford furniture made by well-known furniture makers you should rather go for a lesser known name than buying a copy. Copies are of poor quality and really not worth it in the long run.
Lesser known names are of same or sometimes even better quality than well-known names (they're often made in the same factory), and they're a much better investment; it can either be handed down as a family heirloom or you will be able to sell it for the same price or higher in the furture. Yes, that's why you should see it as an investment.
If you're purchasing wood furniture you should look at all the little details. Keep your eyes peeled on anything that show craftsmanship: how the edges come together, how easily doors open and close and so on. It's the little details that make the difference.
It's also a good idea to check to see if the piece you're thinking about buying has a maker/quality stamp that verify that it's an original piece. It's often possible to see if you're looking at a fake piece of furniture, but if you're unsure, try to find a photo from a source your trust 100% and compare it to the piece you're thinking about buying.
Just because something is vintage doesn't mean that it will last forever. You will still have to look for things of a certain quality to make sure it will stand the test of time. Unfortunately, a lot of stuff in poor condition is overpriced just because it is listed as a vintage item.
Even though vintage shopping is an earth-friendly thing to do there’s no point in ending up wasting your money. When buying vintage it’s the little things that determine if you make a great deal or if you are throwing money out the window. You're already a long way if you keep this blog post in mind the next time you look for Danish Vintage Furniture online or in a shop.
Danish Vintage Coffee table by Severin Hansen available at NABOshop
This blog post is written by Christina Thaisen, Founder of NABOshop.
If you have any questions please get in touch in the comments below or send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that NABOshop helps individuals and shops find Danish Vintage Furniture? If you’re looking for something specific please get in touch at email@example.com and we’d be happy to help.
You can view NABOshop collection of Danish Vintage Furniture here