Thursday, February 17, 2011

A good tip for the bargain hunter

I'll sprinkle these tips in from time to time to help you get the best deals on fabulous vintage and antique pieces. Here are some helpful hints on bargaining--->

Tag sales/ garage sales, yard sales - It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a better price on an item you like. If there are several things you're interested in pull them into a group or lot and ask the seller if they'll do x for all of it. If it's just one item ask the seller if they would be willing to take x. It's best to always have an amount in mind to offer- don't just say "can you come down on the price?". If there are no prices tags on the items (this happens frequently and it's a pet peeve of mine) don't ask for the price. Make a decision on what the item is worth to you and make that offer. Usually people selling at tag sales just want to declutter and are willing to take just about anything to be rid of the items.

Antique stores - Because these are stationary and static, antiques dealers are never as willing to come down on their prices. Be prepared to pay on average 30-50% more than at a tag sale. This being said, there is better stuff at antique stores and so shopping is not as labor intensive for you, the buyer. Regardless of setting, always ask the seller if they will take less. It can't hurt. If it is a group antique store/antique mall (multiple seller stalls in one location) sometimes at the bottom of the price tags you will find an "x" and then a number. This is the secret code the sellers use to tell the person at the front sales desk how much they are willing to come down from the stated price.

Flea markets - In my opinion, possibly the finest place to get a great antique at a great price. Haggling is an assumed part of the purchase process  to the extent that many sellers mark their items up to give wiggle room to haggle. Items are frequently not priced here. As with tag sales, don't ask the cost, just make an offer. I'm not ashamed to admit flirting helps to get a better price. If the seller will not come down on their price, not even a bit, I recommend not buying from them. The person is obviously a nitwit that doesn't understand the rules of the flea market world and doesn't deserve your business...unless you really love item, because there is always an exception for that!

Trend Thursday- Old clock faces

           Frequently as I am hunting antiques I see old unwanted clocks. Sometimes they are in lovely cases and a thing of beauty even if they no longer work, sometimes the case has been damaged beyond repair and the only salvageable bit is the clock face itself. Often I see just the clock face. They seem to outlast the cases and mechanisms, perhaps getting saved and tucked away because their owner recognizes their folk art appeal that transcends the former function. Once I saw a shoebox full of antique dessert plate sized clock faces. I didn't buy it because the seller wouldn't come down on the price. That missed purchase will haunt me for a long time.

Though likely a reporoduction- the scale of this piece is magnificent. If you were crafty it wouldn't be hard to make one. Circular bit of plywood, white paint, black paint, judicial sanding to create a look of age....
Ah yes this collection reminds me of the batch I passed up. So much potential here for an exceptional collage on a wall- in a hallway or maybe going up a flight of stairs. 
This is not an original clock face but it captures the look and feel so well.

           Clock faces are a hot trend right now. In keeping with the rustic Provence look that is so fresh, they are turning up on walls as art, or as a design element on plates, pillows, trays, and duvets. The best place to find original faces is tag sales or salvage stores. Keep an eye out for boxes with tools and architectural salvage as they frequently lurk in such company. Because they are flat- it's good to check in boxes of paper and ephemera as well. Ebay has a good selection ranging from $6-$150. I think these look best hung together as a collection or with just one very fine example up on a mini easel as a  work of folk art.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What I'm hunting for now: Marble and stone topped tables

 The look is so perfect for very early spring. Stone and marble topped tables bring to mind garden rooms, conservatories, and outdoor spaces. I want to put a long narrow marble topped console table in my dining room and cover it with terracotta potted flowers and herbs. Marble is everywhere as kitchen counter tops currently. If you can’t afford to kit out the whole room, how about a marble center island? The stone topped tables make great coffee tables as well. They add weight and a timeless presence but can still take a beating, as any good coffee table should. So how do you find a stone topped table? Start with flea markets and tag sales- these pieces tend to be 19th century, so the wood of the furniture may not be in great condition. Have no fear! This means you can get the piece for cheaper and then personalize it with a fresh coat of paint (try dove gray with marble and light spring green with darker stone). I'll let you know when I find my marble topped table. Happy Hunting!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011


This is the first post of Heir and Space. I wanted to create a place to gather all the ideas on how vintage and open design can create beautiful spaces. This blog is about that vintage wooden chair you see on the side of the road, the wire mesh baskets you find at a tagsale, and the antique home that has all the potential in the world. Though this blog I hope you find solutions for clutter, cheap new furnishings, and the plain and common. Live beautifully and buy vintage!
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