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12 Unique Antique Store Finds and What to Do With Them

Posted by Guest Post on May 19, 2017
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See the accessories one decorator always buys when she spots them — as long as she gets there first.

Houzz Contributor, Charmean Neithart

I get asked fairly often where I find the accessories in my projects. More often than not my answer is antique stores. “Antiquing” is my favorite type of hunting — and sometimes my favorite contact sport, as well.

Antique stores offer one-of-a-kind objects, reasonable pricing and instant gratification. Beware, though, of competitive shoppers eyeing the object you just inquired about. It’s best to wear flats for your next stop at an antique store; you might have to do some fancy footwork.

It’s helpful to know what you are looking at as you wander through, specifically, whether a piece is truly vintage or contemporary. And there are a handful of objects that I always buy if I find them. These objects are on the “buy now, ask later” list: If I see one of these objects I just buy it and then figure out where it will go later.

For some people, this may go against sensible purchasing behavior. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed up something interesting only to find it gone 10 minutes later. Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time that happened. So here is my “buy it now” list for those of you who like to antique.

Suzanis. A Suzani is a type of textile, usually from Uzbekistan or other Central Asian countries. I prefer the vintage Suzanis and use them in many applications, such as this beautiful piece that has been mounted behind a bed. They can also be draped over sofas, used for upholstery, and made into pillows.

The circular designs are embroidered and display bright colors. The circular shapes symbolize the sun and moon and also you will typically see flowers, vines and sometimes animals in the designs. They often were used as wedding gifts as part of a dowry.

Foo dogs. If I come across a great pair of foo dogs I always leash those puppies up and bring them home. Usually bright colors, sometimes old and sometimes new, foo dogs are eye-catching accessories for many styles of room.

Headless sculptures. This is just my quirkiness coming through, but I really like a headless sculpture. Authentic and classic, this type of sculpture adds a layer of culture and sophistication to a room.

The age of a piece will be reflected in price. Typically, the older a piece the more expensive it is. Also look for sculpture that has been artistically mounted. A tabletop size piece should cost anywhere from $100 to $300; very old pieces can be quite a bit more.

Elephants. I met a beautiful, majestic elephant in Thailand many years ago. I was able to feed him and take beautiful pictures that I cherish. I’m always reminded of these animals’ peaceful, protective mannerisms when I see replicas in antique stores. I was told that, traditionally, finding an elephant with its trunk up is good luck. OK — I can use some of that.

Blanc de Chine. You can find both old and contemporary versions of these white porcelain pieces originating from Dehua, China. Old versions can date back to the 1600s; these are very expensive. Typically I come across tabletop-sized statues that depict Chinese characters and animals. The size shown here usually costs around $400.

Porcupine quill accessories. Quill accessories can be vintage or reproductions. Old pieces such as small boxes and frames will be very expensive. The vintage pieces were typically made by Native Americans who collected the porcupine needles that were shed naturally by the animals. They developed intricate styles of weaving using these needles. Modern reproductions, such as this mirror, are striking with their black and cream palette.

African stools. I often come across these stools, sometimes called King’s stools or Ashanti stools.Their organic shapes and carving details look great next to sofas and chairs in modern and traditional spaces. They can cost anywhere from $200 to $500.

Midcentury pottery. I always snatch up groupings of multicolored pottery pieces when I find good ones. I prefer ’50s and ’60s era pieces, which come in a variety of sizes. Singles can be used as vases or sculpture, and groupings are great on sideboards and mantels.

Vintage commercial signs. Vintage signs large and small can be placed in rooms for an eclectic touch that adds whimsy and nostalgia to a space. Large ones can can be propped up in a corner, and smaller ones can be mounted just about anywhere. Try mixing in smaller signs with a photo collage on a wall or over a bed.

Vintage radios. Vintage radios are easy to find and I always enjoy inspecting their knobs and dials. I look for ’50s-era radios and interesting colors and add them to sideboards, mantels and coffee tables. If they work, that’s a bonus.

Vintage suitcases. Old suitcases are best when used in groupings, but just as fun in singles. I use them as end tables, coffee tables or just as sculpture. I always open these up and check their condition, but signs of wear are good — it adds patina to a room.

Vintage globes. Another easy find in antique stores, vintage globes are great as standalone pieces or tabletop accessories. I love the very old ones that have neutral colors, but the multicolored school style is fun too, especially in homes with children learning about history and geography.

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