3 Worth-It Things to Do When You Buy Vintage

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Congrats! Did you just find a real awesome deal on a vintage furniture piece, art or an accessory? Whether from a favorite vintage store or just a fun side-of-the-road find, as soon as you get your new-to-you item home, do these three things.

1. Make sure it’s ick-free before bringing it in

Like, before you start dreaming up locations to put it in. Before you let your cat sniff it. Before you let the excitement of something new to add to your home overcome you — inspect it! You never know what sort of (unpleasant) surprises might be lurking in a non-new thing, so don’t bring it into your home in an unexamined state.

2. Figure out what you’ve got

We all know by now (thanks, Antiques Roadshow!) that the one thing you don’t want to do with anything antique or vintage of potential value is to make changes to it – any changes at all, including a thorough cleaning. Take 10 minutes and do a quick online search just to be double-sure you don’t have the monetary equivalent of a trip to Paris on your hands that you are about to throw away because you decided to spraypaint it.

Once you’ve determined that what you’ve got is a treasure to you, but not to the folks at the fancy auction house, then you can give it a thorough cleaning and move on to number three…

3. Brainstorm whether you could make it better (and then make a plan)

Chances are if you took the time to buy this piece from a vintage store (or haul it into your car and take it home with you), you probably saw a lot of elements that you loved. You maybe even saw potential. Perhaps you knew immediately what you wanted to change about this piece to make it yours. Or maybe you need a little time to mull over what changes you might make.

Whichever camp you fall into, you’re going to want to make a plan if there are going to be changes, so your furniture piece doesn’t sit unloved and unfinished for a couple of months (or years). Brainstorm what you might do to make the piece more yours — from changing out the handles on a dresser to adding a different frame to artwork to spraypainting whatever it is gold and more — and then create a materials and tools list that you would need to complete the project and then, here’s the big thing, make a DIY date with yourself in your calendar to get this DIYing done.

→ The Ultimate Checklist of Things You Can Do to Make Your Furniture Better
→ 3 Reasons (and Fixes!) for Your DIY Fails