Wooden furniture, colorful quilts, and early-American wares are particularly hot right now, say a mix of esteemed collectors.

Increasing numbers of people are turning to antiques and vintage items for furniture, décor, and gift-giving, and experts know why. Namely, home items produced from mass manufacturers simply don't match the quality level of those from bygone eras—and then, of course, there's the notion of personalization.

"[People are] finding that antiques last longer, they are a better value, and have no long lead times," says Sonia Davis of Found Birmingham in Alabama. "Even with new construction, homeowners want one-of-a-kind pieces to warm up their spaces to counter all the new. They are mixing the old with the modern and really trying to use their home as reflection of their personal style—and they know they can achieve that with antique furniture."

Large 19th century French dining table in open-plan kitchen with English 1850's neo-gothic dining chairs
Credit: Andreas Von Einsiedel / GETTY IMAGES

At Casa Gusto in West Palm Beach, Fla., Charles Peed sees customers with a similar goal: showing off their own style and incorporating items "with a soul," like stone, wood, wool, and patina. "Individual tastes are prevailing," he says. "[It's about] accepting what you have always felt comfortable in, and just bringing it forward to this decade. People are less inhibited by the rules."

Though building a collection of objects—whether vintage postcards, secondhand cutting boards, heirloom furniture, or copper garden accents—is an incredibly personal hobby, the trends on this list all leave room for buyers to choose specific pieces that fit their own aesthetic. As for where to shop? Davis recommends antique shops that sell online, which can often deliver higher quality items in less time than big box chain stores.

Antique fairs, which have been less popular over the last few years, are also back in a big way, says Erik Retzer, founder of Right | Proper in Chicago. "They're very Instagrammable, and more often than not, they're being designed with younger buyers in mind. Think design-star keynote speakers, trendy cocktails, and DJs spinning records while you shop for antiques," he says. "These aren't your grandmother's antiques fairs anymore!"

Antique interior design with floral patterns and painted blue cabinet

Eye-Catching Painted Furniture and Décor

With bright whites and cool hues being replaced by warmer neutrals and bolder tones in home décor, expect to see a similar trend toward stronger shades in furniture and decorative objects. "It is all about color in 2023, from walls to furnishings. Out with the beige and in with the bold," says Sean Scherer, owner of Kabinett and Kammer in Franklin, N.Y. "For Kabinett and Kammer, this move to more color is represented in antique furniture and objects in original paint. It can be as large as a vintage jelly cupboard in grass green or as small as a painted tin bright blue box, but color is vital."

After seeing the popularity of dynamic painted furniture at fairs in 2022, Retzer also anticipates a continuing interest in bold color. "19th century Italian Florentine furniture with bold geometric patterns was all the rage at the fairs in Italy and France this year and if you could get your hands on some, the prices were outrageous," he says. "They're instantly covetable!" 

Stylish open space kitchen with accessories, plants and plates. Design interior of cozy kitchen
Credit: Irina_Geo / GETTY IMAGES

Textured Ceramics

Handmade ceramic vases, sculptures, and other pieces are increasingly popular choices for collectors, as the natural material and unique shapes and textures add a warm and personal accent to tables, cabinets, counters, and shelves.

"Modern ceramic sculptures have seen a considerable increase in popularity in interiors," says Scherer. "A more approachable way of getting in on this trend is to look for vintage ceramic vases or art pottery. The best bargains are anonymous works, from student works to mid-century lesser-known makers. Walking through any sizeable antique mall or flea market, these are still readily available. Seek out pieces with attractive glaze and color."

living room of apartment interior with elegant green velvet armchair, coffee table, marble stands, gold mirror, plants and chic accessories.

Luxurious Fabrics

After years of white boucle dominating the fabric world, Retzer sees a trend toward deeper colors and varying textures. "Like a fresh blanket of snow, boucle was covering everything in the Paris Flea Market in 2019—then quickly became the 'it' fabric on Instagram over the last few years," he says. "While beautiful, a little goes a long way. I'm seeing lots of jewel-toned velvets and mohairs covering everything from 17th-century French ratchet chairs to Vladirmir Kagan sofas at the antique markets these days, and I'm here for it. It's a welcomed change of pace, and makes antique seating sparkle."

Dramatic Lighting

Collectors are increasingly turning to statement lighting fixtures to add a uniquely personal finishing touch to their spaces. "I'm talking about oversized, sculptural, or ornate antique light fixtures: think large lanterns, bronze scrolling floral sconces, and oversized one-of-a-kind lamps," says Retzer. "I think buyers are craving one-of-a-kind pieces that their friends don't have, and good lighting always makes a statement. I purchased several sculptural blown crystal and bronze brutalist table lamps in Italy and France this year, and they're all sold now."

Early-American Pieces

While mid-century pieces are often easy to find—and easy to afford—most of them don't have the history and personality of pieces from the Early American era. "Think 18th-century Windsor chairs, simple but sophisticated Shaker furniture, and hand-wrought iron chandeliers that hold candles instead of light bulbs," says Retzer. "Early American pieces are modern in spirit and can hold their own among the most serious fine art collections. I think their appeal is quality and patina, something that you don't always get with mid-century modern pieces."

Quilts Stacked on Wooden Chair

Intricate Antique Quilts

A cross between art and practicality, handmade quilts are lucky finds for customers with diverse interior design aesthetics, says Scherer. "Never really out-of-style quilts and coverlets will be even hotter in 2023—the geometry in them is what lends them so well to interiors," he says. "I've noticed 19th-century coverlets popping up in minimalist to maximalist homes for some time now, and their popularity has been increasing."

A quilt's hand-made, one-of-a-kind quality can also add authenticity to any room: "The inherent patterns are also a welcome addition, as is their often-colorful pop—plus, they are useful and cozy to boot!" says Scherer.

Antique cabinet with porcelain decor

Classic English Furniture

Davis sees a continuing interest in traditional English antique furniture, with its warm wood tones and iconic styling. "Brown furniture has the ability to warm a home regardless of architecture," she says. "Chests of drawers have been a strong category—they add instant character and can go in a bedroom, family room, or a foyer—and pine and mahogany are always popular."

19th-Century Folk Art

Retzer's own interest in art pieces from the 19th century is increasingly mirrored by his customers. "I've always had a fascination with animal-shaped weathervanes with bold silhouettes, quirky and whimsical Tyrolean furniture, and tramp art-framed mirrors with gutsy geometric patterns—and I can't seem to keep these things in stock these days," he says. "I [place] the weathervanes on custom wall mounts so they can be displayed like art, and people go crazy for them."

The Romance of History

Part of the thrill of collecting is imagining the history of your item, the previous owners, and the life it had before you found it. "I think people are craving a story, a history, a narrative that mirrors their unique lives, and antiques are the best way to bring that romance back into our homes," says Retzer. "Once fast furniture took over the industry a decade ago, the romance died."

A resurgence in collecting—and a generation of new buyers—means a return to feeling a personal connection with the items that surround you. "I recently acquired a set of French copper graduated saucepans from the Ritz Hotel in Paris, stamped with the hotel's monogram, and covered in thousands of dings and dents from having been used for over a hundred years," says Retzer. Though he planned to refurbish them, a client bought them before he got the chance. "She stayed at the Ritz on her honeymoon in the 1960s, and she is convinced that these saucepans were used to make her meals," he says. "I couldn't argue with her—she'd already fallen in love with the story."


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