How Do I Choose the Best Antique Furniture?

Dan Cavallari

Antique furniture can add a unique aesthetic to any room in the house, but choosing the best pieces can be tricky, especially since so many replicas and forgeries are out there. The best way to choose antique furniture for your home is to find a reputable antiques dealer. This in itself may not be easy; you will have to visit several antiques dealers and get recommendations from people who have dealt with each dealer. Look for fair prices, furniture in good condition, and reasonable sales and return policies when choosing a dealer.

Learning about antique and vintage furniture helps in choosing finishes and period pieces.
Learning about antique and vintage furniture helps in choosing finishes and period pieces.

It helps to learn as much about the type of antique furniture you intend to buy as possible. This helps ensure you are prepared to assess a particular piece and have a good idea of what is a fair price for it. Remember that restoration of antique furniture pieces can add to the overall cost, so keep this in mind when assessing a piece's potential value. It is a good idea to know how to look for certain types of damage, such as water damage, mold, rot, cracking, and splitting. Each type of damage can add significant costs to the restoration of the piece, so have a budget in mind before you buy.

Antique chairs may only be suitable for display purposes.
Antique chairs may only be suitable for display purposes.

Think carefully about the aesthetic you are trying to accomplish by buying antique furniture. Consider existing colors, tones, and furniture in the room in which you intend to place an antique piece before you buy so you can figure out if the furniture will fit with the overall decor. When buying more than one antique piece, be sure you know where they will be placed in the home; if they are going to be in the same room, it helps to consider whether they are complementary to each other, or whether they will clash.

Sometimes antique furniture is only suitable for display purposes rather than for actual use, so consider this, too, when choosing your pieces. If you intend to use the antique furniture regularly, it will need to be in good enough condition that it will withstand regular use. This may mean refurbishing may be necessary to ensure the piece is stable and strong. Otherwise, the antique will only be suitable for display purposes and may be susceptible to various types of damage, as materials can become frail as they age. It is certainly acceptable to buy a piece simply for show, but be sure to consider how you will protect the piece from damage if it is not intended for regular use.

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