Integrating antiques into your décor can impart an established, lived-in vibe, even in newer homes. What is considered “antique” differs from source to source. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which raised tariffs on a great number of U.S. imports, defined an antique as something made before 1830. But while an item dating back to that time might indeed seem very old to an American, a European might still consider it relatively modern.
And even within the United States, definitions of antiquity vary by region. For example, Victorian furniture might seem very old in Texas, but you can easily find even older styles on the East Coast. Some dealers and collectors define antique as being at least 50 years old, others say an item must be at least 80 years old—or two generations—to count.
In addition to age, dealers and collectors also consider whether or not an item still is manufactured or is exists in great numbers. Rarity, then, also is a factor.
What really matters, though, is whether you like it. Sometimes an antique will bring back memories of a favorite person or place. Other times, it’s sheer novelty that contributes to an item’s appeal. But whatever your reasons for picking them up, there are a number of ways to incorporate antiques into your existing décor.
Antique door knobs, drawer pulls and other hardware are easy additions that will add instant character to a room, as will textiles such as rugs, bedding and tea towels.
Vintage posters or antique board games make for colorful wall art.
You can add a special element of surprise by using an item in an unexpected way. For example, a hurricane lamp can be repurposed into a pendant light. An old shutter can be hung horizontally so that the slots can be used as a mail organizer. Hard-sided suitcases and hat boxes can be stacked to make side tables.
Collections also are a fun way to get into antiquing. Perhaps you fixate on finding certain letters, such as the initials for everyone in your family. Watches, kitschy animal figurines, forks and buttons also are easily sourced but often interesting things to pick up. You can create displays by arranging these items in cabinets, shadow boxes, jars or under glass cloches.
Shows such as “Antiques Roadshow” often portray people who have spent an exorbitant sum on an item that turned out to have little or no value. To avoid this pitfall, do a little research on the things you’re looking for. What are the most marked characteristics of originals and reproductions?
Another way to shore up your knowledge is to visit various antique stores to get a feel for what is rare, what is common and how much things go for.
But what to do if whether you can’t make a decision on an item? Go with your gut and leave it if you’re not absolutely in love it, or if the asking price is more than you are comfortable spending.
Online retailers such as eBay and Etsy make it easy to search for just what you’re looking for, but let’s be real: A big part of the thrill of the hunt is the element of discovery. Here are a few places to get started:
Elite Finds and Things, 136 Olive Street, Keller (817-562-4455): Here you’ll find furniture, table-top décor and collectibles.
Grapevine Antique Market, 1641 W. Northwest Highway, Grapevine (817-329-2124): Formerly known as Grapevine Antique Mall, the place offers space to about 100 dealers offering antiques as well as art, collectibles, furniture and musical instruments.
Red Shed French Antiques, 317 Church Street, Grapevine (817-310-6006): The owners stock antiques and French-inspired pieces sourced during their own travels.
Lost Antiques 1201 N. Riverfront Boulevard, Dallas (214-741-4411): A truly varied inventory with everything from antique motorcycles to fossils and minerals.