Shopping for antiques isn't something that you can necessarily equate with saving money. While it is possible to find a great deal on a true antique now and then, often the reality is that antiques require a bit of a investment. That doesn't mean it's not possible to make the best deal that you can — here are a few things worth keeping in mind when shopping…
• Even if you aren't buying a piece for a collection or as an investment, you may want to know if it is the real deal. You don't want to pay for a reproduction if the salesman is charging you "original" prices. A visit to a well-established local appraiser will do the trick. You can also check out some of the websites listed here. They provide invaluable tips and guidelines for antique shoppers.
• Antiques don't have to be pricey, especially if you go for less trendy styles and periods. The Gustavian/Swedish whitewashed look is hot right now. Art Deco and Art Nouveau are big. Farmhouse chic (reclaimed wood, etc) is popular. The real bargains are reserved for the adventurous shoppers willing to go against the grain and pick a less trendy decade from which to pluck. My mother bought a lot of her favorite pieces at garage sales in 1970s suburban Maryland. Settling into their new split-levels, these neighborhood women were desperate to offload their inherited Victorian furniture. Sure, my Mom got a lot of stares from the local ladies — but it was worth it.
• Go for the oddball pieces. The value of a dining room chair, for example, goes down if the set is incomplete. Save money with mismatched chairs. You can also save money by visiting estate sales, auctions and Craiglist. Antique dealers sell at a huge mark-up, though if your time is scarce and you can afford it, a reputable antique shop can be a goldmine.
Finally, remember that unless you are collecting or buying antiques primarily as an investment, buy what you like. Let yourself fall in love the curve of a chair's back or the detail in the woodwork. Don't over think it.
Image: Antique Change Purse at BetteBeGoodVintage on Etsy