No Thanks
Let

Keep In Touch With MarthaStewart.com

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Shop Like a Pro: Vintage Shopping Tips from Hunters Alley

Taylor Combs
Associate Digital Editor
The creative team behind One Kings Lane knows a thing or two about unique interiors. Discover your own eclectic vintage and flea-market finds with the help of these tips from Andrea Stanford, One Kings Lane Vice President of Designer and Vintage Sales, and General Manager of Hunters Alley, the shopping site's just-launched vintage- and handmade-home-goods destination.
Shop Like a Pro: Vintage Shopping Tips from Hunters Alley
Photography: One Kings Lane

Have Fun!

Never be intimidated by shopping for vintage; it should be fun! Start by educating yourself. I love learning from people who are experts in their fields and truly passionate about their collections. Always ask questions about an item’s maker or history. Visit flea markets and antique shows and browse online. As you become more familiar with certain eras or categories of decor, shopping will become so much more fun –- and you can truly enjoy the hunt!

Start Small

One of the easiest ways to start collecting vintage is to buy catchalls, vases, and books. They’re inexpensive and easy to find. Starting with smaller accents is a low-risk way to get a sense of what styles and eras you're most drawn to.

Get Art Smart

Art is another great way to incorporate vintage into your home! Learn the basics about differentiating between an original and a manufactured piece, a limited-edition print, or a great giclee reproduction, so you can begin to understand value and collectability. Browse art from the 19th and 20th centuries and take note of the artists you like. I love finding original works from lesser-known artists, as the prices are much more approachable! And I adore vintage fashion sketches, especially from designers who are still important today.

Rugs

Embrace the Imperfect

Normal cracking and warping of wood from shrinkage over time is a great indication that you have an original wood piece. Look for maker’s marks, high-quality materials (hand-forged nails and dovetailed joints), and great patina. Buying an original design, even if something is not perfect, is far more interesting than bringing a reproduction home!

IceCream

Sets and Pairs

Pairs of great-looking vintage lamps are hard to find; if you find the perfect pair, be ready to pounce! Focus on the bases of lamps, as shades are often in poor condition but can be easily replaced. Similarly, full sets of glassware are rare. The great news is that mixing a variety of vintage barware makes cocktail hour even more fun!

Measure First

When ordering online, don’t be fooled by how large (or small) something looks in a picture! I still have a set of vintage French kitchen cabinets in my garage that were too large to even fit through my front door (I’d thought they would be the perfect addition to my daughter’s petite room) and a wicker elephant meant as a toy chest that stands just 10 inches tall.

Always check the measurements online and bring your measuring tape when hitting the flea markets. Some vintage coffee and side tables are too low when placed alongside contemporary furniture. By contrast, many midcentury lamps are more than three feet tall and can be tricky to incorporate into today’s interiors. But most important of all, buy what you love! Regardless of the provenance, if you have a special place for it and the price works for you, buy it!

Taylor Combs
About the Author
Taylor Combs is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She’s obsessed with neon and polka dots and loves cooking Mexican food at home. Read More