7 tips on how to hunt for vintage treasures

When people ask “where did you get that?” about something in my home, the answer is often “it’s a vintage Gumtree find” or “from a flea market”.

This is probably highly annoying to others, and it’s definitely more time consuming than just doing a massive IKEA run, but it’s how I achieve my eclectic look and I definitely think it’s worth it!

Having sold at a flea market, and bought at an antiques fair recently, I thought I’d round up my tips of how to shop in this way.

Sofa and rug from Gumtree. Foot stool and lamp shade from a charity shop.

Sofa and rug from Gumtree. Foot stool and lamp shade from a charity shop.

1.Do your prep

This is especially the case if you’re shopping for furniture rather than homeware/ accessories. Make a note of all the measurements you might need - the width and drop of curtains, the space you’re hoping to put a wardrobe or a sofa. You never know when you might stumble across a great find, so I keep all measurements in the ‘notes’ app on my phone, and that way I always have them to hand. I once found the perfect pair of heavy, silk-lined curtains in a charity shop. I wouldn’t have bought them if I hadn’t known for sure that they were going to fit.

2. Go in with an open mind

You’ll probably have a wish list of what you’re looking for - bedside tables, a rug or some pretty pottery. But be flexible. If you see the perfect vase at a great price, that you think you’ll treasure forever - go for it. Those tables might not crop up for months!

Edinburgh Antiques Fair

Edinburgh Antiques Fair

3. Go early

If you’re serious about finding the good stuff - be it at a charity shop or a car boot sale - go early. I found this out when selling at a flea market recently. I made about a quarter of my sales before the market had even officially started, from people who turned up early and cherry-picked the best stuff.

4. Look for more than one

Be it green glass vases, or a set of enamelware jugs. Consider building up a collection of something. And when you get them home, don’t be tempted to scatter them about the place. Group them together. I’ve got a collection of twelve bird prints that look amazing hung together because of the sheer number of them - they’re definitely more than the sum of their parts.

5. Be prepared to walk away

If it’s a pricey item, or you’re not 100% attached to something, consider walking away to see how you feel. When we were shopping for my engagement ring in an antiques shop, I saw a ring I loved but I wasn’t sure straight away that it was right as an engagement ring. It was so unusual. So we walked on to the next shop, and then got a coffee. As we were ordering I has a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach - I absolutely couldn’t bear it if someone else bought that ring, So we sprinted back to get it.

6. Haggle

This will be more appropriate in some places than others - in a car boot sale or antiques market it will totally be expected. In a charity shop, definitely don’t try it! If you’ve seen something at the beginning of the day and it’s still there towards the end, make an offer. Chances are, the seller will be wiling to knock something off the price rather than lug it home again.

Vintage clothing heaven

Vintage clothing heaven

7. Buy what you love

I know next to nothing about antiques, or the actual value of most pieces I own. I just buy what I love, at a price that feels worth it to me. And that way I can never feel disappointed. I always go with my gut, and suggest you do the same.