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The FF Guide to Sourcing Antiques for the Home

I've been antique shopping for awhile. When we first moved into Fancy Cottage, I knew I wanted to do my best to source pieces for the space that were beautiful and unique. In fact, my second date with my husband was going to a very large Flea Market to find furniture for his new apartment at the time. We both love the look of antiques in a home. They add so much charm and interest in world where the default for home decor is websites like Wayfair and Amazon.

Personally, I also love the idea of adding to the story of a piece of furniture or a painting. The idea that people before me sat around an antique dining table or marveled at a beautiful painting makes me feel like we are somehow all connected in this life. And it makes me excited to know that long after I'm gone, a piece of art will find a new home with someone to appreciate it.

But antique shopping can be overwhelming. There's so much to see and only so much you can bring home with you. So let's discuss the general rules and guidelines I follow when sourcing the perfect antique pieces for my home.

Set a Budget

Antique shopping can quickly go from a casual saunter around the store to dropping your paycheck on pieces you didn't intend to buy. This is pretty standard for shopping in general, but make sure you set a budget for yourself when you go antique shopping. Paintings and other pieces that might not look like much to a trained eye, can easily run you thousands of dollars, and those sellers know how to make a sale. Don't fall in love with anything until you ask for the price.

Everything's Negotiable

Going along with setting a budget, also know that everything is negotiable. Sometimes a seller will be a stickler on price, but in my experience, they're usually willing to negotiate if you approach it with respect. Respect for them and respect for the piece itself. Sometimes if a seller likes you enough, they might lower the price just for the heck of it! This past weekend while my husband and I were antique shopping, we got to talking with the seller who told us all about the history of the shop and his personal story. When we were checking out, he took about $20 or $30 off of a $300 painting for us which was a great deal. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask if the price is firm or if they're willing to negotiate.

Buy What You Need

If you're anything like me, you too get easily distracted when antique shopping. There's just so much to see! A good rule of thumb for me is that I use antique shopping as an excuse to buy what I actually need. For example, if we need a new desk or lamp, I'll check my local antique shops first before going to a modern furniture store or website. This way, I'm buying something that we will get a lot of use out of and I get to keep everything in my personal style.

Don't Sleep on FB Marketplace

I'm saying this with a little asterisk because so far, I'm 1/4 on FB Marketplace. The concept is great, but the amount of times that I've either been scammed or ghosted by someone on Marketplace is too many for my liking. However, I recently scored a wood dining set with the table and four chairs included for, wait for it... $30. I simply could not believe that it was being sold for that little and it was perfectly in my style and aesthetic. So while Marketplace is not always the most reliable, when it works, it really works.

Wooden table and chairs

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If You Can't Stop Thinking About It...

You probably really want it.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if we really like and want something or if we just admire it. The way I look at it is if I haven't been able to stop thinking about a piece for a day or so, then I must really want it. This weekend when we were antique shopping, my husband and I drove away when we were done, only to turn around 10 minutes later because he couldn't stop thinking about this one painting he wanted. When we got back to the shop, the seller said that he feels the same way - if he's still thinking about it a day or so later, that means it's his.

Nooks & Crannies

Antique shopping can sometimes feel like you're just looking at a bunch of junk, so it's important to really open your eyes and look beyond what's immediately in front of you. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find what you're looking for. A few weekends ago, I noticed this painting in a section where everything was 20% off and it really caught my eye. It surprised me that it was hanging in the back, gathering dust, because to me it is truly so beautiful. I left without buying it and couldn't stop looking at the pictures I had taken of it. After I drove home, I called the following day and bought it over the phone. But if I hadn't looked a little beyond what was right in front of me, I wouldn't have seen it!

Antique painting of the sea

Don't Skip Estate Sales

In addition to going directly to antique shops, don't skip out on local estate sales! An estate sale is where the belongings of a household are sold usually because of a major life event like a move or a death in the family. I really like going to estate sales because they're like a peak into someone's life. What they were like, what kind of art they had, and a bit of their life story. I like to go to the estate sales in wealthier neighborhoods because they have amazing collections!

antique photos

Antique shopping is such a fun way to add charm and elegance to your home. There are so many unique treasures waiting to be discovered, each with its own story and character.

Whether you're searching for a statement piece to anchor your living room or small accents to personalize your space, antique shopping offers so many options. From vintage furniture that lets you live your coastal grandmother dreams, to quirky collectibles that spark conversation, the world of antiques invites you to explore and express your personal style in new and unexpected ways.



Just a California girl who believes in a good cup of tea, a fresh bouquet of peonies, page turning novels & romanticizing everyday life.

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