My Tips for Antiquing

Ever since I discovered my passion for decorating, incorporating “antiques” into my spaces has been a must. I love to bring in vintage items because they have history and help me tell a story. I also secretly love that an old piece is something that lots of folks aren’t likely to own. That is, it’s not something you can buy at Target. (No shade to Target, because I love them too!!)

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the “previously loved pieces” I used in my ORC Master Bedroom Makeover. In that post, I wanted to include tips for antiquing but chose not to because the article was getting too long. I promised I’d get back to you with those tips, so that’s what I’m going to share today.

Whether you’re new to antiquing/thrifting or just looking for helpful tips for your next hunt, here are my suggestions for a fun and fruitful antiquing adventure!

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My Tips for Antiquing

Plan, but be open.

It never fails. If I’m searching for something specific, I never find it. When I go antiquing and am open to possibilities, I will find more things than I can fit in my vehicle. A prime example is the lamp I recently sourced for my Master Bedroom makeover. I wasn’t even looking for a floor lamp when I happened upon it. Now it’s among my favorite pieces in the room.

Because this is how antiquing/thrifting seems to work for me, I’ve developed a strategy. First, I make a list of all the things I’m hoping to find. I also take measurements and jot them down along with any colors or styles I want to keep in mind. If necessary, I make a note of how much I’m willing to pay for a particular item.

Shopping can be overwhelming so it helps to start with a plan. This detailed list can make it easier to stay within your budget if you’re tempted to overspend. Saying no to things you like but don’t have a need for is also easier with a digital or printed list.

Of course, you can veer from the list when you come across that unexpected piece that blows your mind or causes you to rethink your decor plan! Case in point: the desk/small table I found for my master bedroom.

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Take your time. Walk through twice.

Whenever possible, give yourself time to thoroughly explore a store. Typically, I walk through once, quickly looking for anything on my list. Then I walk through again, a little more slowly, taking it all in and being open to all the possibilities. This is when the magic is likely to happen!

It might sound a little “woo hoo,” but I think “the antique will find you.” So don’t get hung up on when you go, where you go, or how often you go. That perfect piece will find its way to you.

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Always ask for the best price.

Most stores will work with you on price. In fact, if you just ask for a better price, some dealers will automatically knock off 10%. This isn’t always the case, but antique shops with multiple vendors usually have systems in place so they don’t have to reach out to the booth owner every time someone asks if they can do better on the price.

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll always be glad you asked. I can assure you, it also gets easier once you become accustomed to saying: “Is that the lowest you can go?” (You might even practice saying it before you go shopping.)

One important thing to note: When an item is marked “FIRM” there’s rarely room for negotiation.

Bring Cash.

You will often get a better deal if you pay cash. I’ve found this to be the case 95% of the time. That’s why I try to carry greenbacks with me when antiquing. Buying with cash can also help to keep you within your budget. – Your spending limit is what you have in your pocket.

I like to have a variety of bills because this can prove helpful in negotiating a price. Let’s say, you spot a cute lamp that is marked $25. You might be able to get it for $20 if you offer a $20 bill.

Check Return Policies:

Most places in my area do not accept returns of any kind. Be sure to note return policies or ask before purchasing. This is why it’s so important that you come prepared with measurements, color samples, etc. Once you purchase something, it’s yours.

Those are my tips for antiquing. I hope they’re helpful. As with all aspects of creating your happy place, enjoy the process!

If I think of any other tips, I will be sure to update this post. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

I will also be putting together a post about my personal favorite antique shops here in Pittsburgh. I know this doesn’t apply to the vast majority of you, but I’ve had several requests to share where I go, so I’m happy to oblige.

Thank you so much and happy weekend!

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.

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  • Jenalee at

    Wish I could go antiquing with you! Such a thrill! I live down in Florida and we have this giaaaaant antique market twice a year in Mt. Dora. It’s hundreds (maybe thousands??) of antique dealers in one place. Maybe I’ll see you there one year! 🙂

  • Gretchen Trumbull at

    Like you, I generally walk through an antique store or mall twice. On my second pass, I turn around and walk through in the opposite direction (if that makes sense). I see things I may have missed on the first walk through by approaching each booth from a different direction.

  • Lynn Lindberg at

    I love antiques as accents or key pieces. The very first piece of furniture I bought when I was just 19 was an antique pub table that someone had cut down to make it a coffee table. It’s still my coffee table despite several remodels and redecorating. It’s a great size and can extend to twice as long, which works great for setting out appetizers and more when entertaining and for holiday, still leaving plenty of room for people to use to set drinks. Most of all, it’s just beautiful with turned legs and that rich warm natural 100 year old patina that you won’t find in anything new. I source from a lot of different places now days, antique fairs, antique malls, even Craigslist, where I have found some tremendous buys for far less than would pay in an antique shop. I like unique accent pieces as well each one tells story and often are great conversation pieces, like a wood hat size mold with beautiful rich wood and an iron handle in the middle. Had no idea what is was when I saw it, but I just love it. Everyone always comments and it’s fund asking them to guess what it is and then the story. I’ve had so many myfriends then want to go find some of these unique accent pieces from history for themselves.

  • Teddee Grace at

    Enjoyed this. I’ve also noticed that if I walk the aisles in the opposite direction the second time, I see things I didn’t spot the first time around.

  • Lyn at

    I have a small collection of antique items – mostly decorative pieces like a coffee grinder, small cabinets that hang on walls, wooden advertising boxes, etc. I have owned these pieces for many years, and there is one thing that makes them special. When I bought these pieces either at auction or antique shops I was usually with my Mom. She is gone now, but I remember the day each of these items were purchased and what fun we had. There used to be more farm auctions back in those days, and we would have such a great day with our family.

  • RIKKI at

    Always excited about any tips you can give us to create magic the way you do! Thank you!!!

  • Theresa at

    I am new to your blog and am thoroughly enjoying your posts. I’ve gone back to earlier posts just exploring your style. I love what you create – a mix of antiques and “modern..”
    One question: how did you hang the chicken coup on your patio? I have the exact same one and it is currently in my attic. Your photo gave to inspiration to pull it back down; however, I have very few walls on my patio for it.
    Thanks for your answer.

  • Barbara at Mantel and Table at

    Wonderful tips! Thanks – I can’t wait to get out there and do some strolling around in the stores!


    Always enjoy seeing the way you mix antiques into your decorating schemes! I’m soooo looking forward to being able to get out & go to antique shops, flea markets, consignment shops & yard sales again!

  • Kathryn Walchuk at

    Michael, I thoroughly enjoy your posts, especially your tablescapes.

    Antiques and vintage items make a room. My home has both, most antiques are family pieces but I have found some of my most treasured pieces at the thrift stores. For the most part every item has a story to go along with it and I love the fact that everything is unique.

  • Raven at

    Hi Michael!
    I’m really connecting with your ideas of antiquing~there’s nothing woo-woo about a piece finding you; it happens all the time. So many things call to me when I’m out looking & I don’t have a specific purpose for them at the time. Unless they’re too spendy I usually take them home and eventually find a spot for them in my life. Really appreciate your tips and ideas, thanks so much for doing what you do!
    Keep looking!!

  • Colleen at

    I love incorporating antiques too, they add warmth, history, interest and texture. I love taking my time to finish a room, finding the right item is part of the enjoyment of creating.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I totally agreed with you, Colleen!

      xo Michael

  • Jamala at

    Great tips!! I love incorporating antiques in my decor … they tend to bring a more personalized element to any space

  • Sharon at

    It never fails, that the times I have money I can’t find anything, but f I’m broke and
    “Just looking” I fall in life be with everything I can’t have!

  • Guerrina at

    This was Interesting to read as I’m getting ready to list some 1940s pieces (local antiques dealer calls them 1920s era). Hope people look at FB sales pages! Love the pieces you found!

  • Teresa at

    Love all your tips and suggestions for antiquing. I have typically made my best finds when like you I wasn’t looking for it. I would suggest also keeping a open mind and don’t overlook thrift and consignment stores when vintage shopping. You wont always hit the jackpot but I have made some great scores especially MCM décor and pieces. Many times, when a older family member has to go into a health care facility or passes away, younger family members don’t want to be burdened with selling their items and will donate it to Goodwill or a local thrift store. In fact, I have seen vintage dealers shop local thrift stores to stock their booths!

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