A guide to buying antiques – even if you’re on a budget

Incorporating antiques is great way to add personality to your home. However, most of us haven't inherited family heirlooms so, if you want to buy a special vintage piece for your home, here are some tips for going antique shopping on a budget...

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We all know that incorporating antiques into your decor is the best way to add a little bit of personality to your home. From sophisticated furniture pieces to marble fireplaces, and garden ornaments to antique mirrors, the choice is unlimited if you have an idea of the style you like and the pieces you need.

However, most of us don’t have family heirloom antiques that have been passed down through generations and will want to buying something special for our home. Thankfully, there are many antique shops and markets nowadays, where plenty of treasures can be found. Contrary to common beliefs, shopping for antiques isn’t necessarily a pricey endeavour. You don’t necessarily have to shell out a small fortune in order to add some antique style to your home decor.

Antique hunting can be a time-consuming activity, but it can be a lot of fun as well – find a friend or a family member who shares your passion, and organise an antique hunting competition – see who can find the most unique item at the lowest price. All you need to win this challenge is some patience and the following tips:

BE CREATIVE

Before you go shopping, think about what item you need and whether you can DIY it instead. Sure it won’t be an authentic antique, but it could be a better option for you. You’d be surprised at how keeping an open mind about interior design can do wonders! There are many guides and tutorials online – such as my blog post on distressed paint effects – so get inspired and achieve that ‘worn out’ look you strive for.

IS IT ANTIQUE-STYLE OR ANTIQUE

If you’re not worried about the items being genuine antiques, you should also consider mass-produced antique- and vintage-style pieces. They tend to be a lot cheaper than the authentic ones and, if they are produced by someone who knows what they are doing, nobody will be able to tell the difference.

However, if you want to find an original item on a budget, you should really do your research on how to spot fake objects. There is always the possibility that the sellers try to sell you a reproduction claiming it to be genuine so be careful and look for the following things:

  • Signs of ageing. After all, you are buying an antique; if it looks brand new, it’s probably fake.
  • Imperfections. If the items are from a century or two ago, there should be some flaws.
  • Pay attention to the craftsmanship – look for engravings and makers marks.
  • Ask the seller questions. They should be able to give you more information on the product, but if they can’t – there might be something fishy about it.

NEGOTIATE

If you really like an item but the price is too high for you, you should try to negotiate a better price. Frankly, there is a risk that the seller may refuse to lower the price but, if you are persuasive enough, you might encourage them to give you a discount. It’s always worth trying and could save you some money.

CONSIDER FLEA MARKETS

The downside of flea markets is that you might need to make a trip or two (or five) before you actually find something truly unique. Although you may risk wasting some time only to end up empty-handed, you never know – there may be hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

ONLINE SHOPPING

Shopping for antiques online might be a bit controversial, but it’s worth a shot. On the one hand, it’s a great way to save time as you don’t have to go around from shop to shop. Also, should you encounter something you like, you can look around other websites to compare prices and see where it’s the cheapest. Nevertheless, as you are unable to see the item in person, it’s easier for it to be faked. And you need to keep in mind that there will be delivery costs, which sometimes are as much as the item itself.

If you shop online and stumble across an object you fall in love with, but cannot afford, you should bookmark it, so that you can come back to it and check if they have lowered the price. The chances are slim, but it won’t cost you anything to do this and you might get lucky.

At first glance, shopping for antiques on a budget might seem like too much work with no actual chance of getting any results. However, the more you look, the more knowledge you gain and the easier it gets. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and travel a bit. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out immediately, sometimes plenty of window-shopping is required before you actually find the most suitable antique piece for your home. Let me know your own tips for buying antiques on a budget in the comments below. 🙂

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Cassie Fairy

Cassie Fairy

Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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