When Visiting An Antique Shop - 12 Things To Look For

Sam and I love love love antique shops. Last time we were driving home from Kansas we stopped in Oklahoma to give Ester a breather from her carseat. The small town we were in had a few antique shops... and we found a beautiful Turkish runner for $38.00!! Yes, amazing!  

Sometimes antique shops can be overwhelming, and seem like they're full of junk. Perhaps you just need a few ideas to help you focus on what to look for. 


This may be an oversight when antiquing, but even if the rug is being used in the actual display it may be for sale. It's always worth asking if you love the rug.

Coffee Cups

Yes! There are always dishes in antique shops, but because of all the clutter it's easy to overlook pass on by, unaffected. You may not need any coffee cups, but take a look. You may find something vintage that really connects with your childhood; a city you visited, a cup with a date stamp, your favorite sports team...

Chairs / Stools

Upholstered chairs are a bit more risky than basic wooden kitchen chairs, but if the condition is good it's worth checking the price. A statement chair is even better than a statement couch. They add character and personality to any room, and they're practical. 


Vintage books are difficult to read because the pages can be brittle...but they're great for decor. Searching for your favorite titles in vintage is always fun!


Vintage picture frames are always fabulous. Sometimes a frame can throw you off because of what's in the frame, so look beyond the photo or artwork and examine the frame. Picture your family photos in a beautifully, ornate brass frame. This is a great gift idea too, instead of buying a frame at Target, why not an antique?


Vintage art is everywhere too. If you like landscapes from the 70s you really shouldn't have a struggle finding a few pieces. Vintage art is also a good thing to consider if you're decorating a room with a theme, i.e., a nursery with a woodland theme. 

Light Fixtures

The antique shops here in north Texas are filled with repurposed light fixtures. We even bought one and it hangs in our dining room/kitchenette. I think it's a lid for a butter churning container, repurposed as a pendant light. (It's similar to the ones below.)

Containers That Can Be used to Pot Things In

Tin cans that used to hold coffee, tea, cookies, etc. are great for potting succulents or other plants (and they can easily be drilled in the bottom if you need drainage holes).

Storage Containers / Organizational Containers

Wooden crates, vintage baskets, metal boxes, if you're needing a container for all of your throw blankets, or maybe laundry, or toilet paper storage? Consider a vintage container. 

Things to Burn Candles In

Don't limit this to actual candle holders, although brass candlestick holders are lovely, but consider other sizes of glassware etc. to hold your favorite votives, tea lights, and pillars. These will come in handy when decorating for parties or a quiet evening meal with your family. We often use vintage mason jars to burn candles in. 

Furniture (Obviously)

Most of the time this is what folks at antique shops are looking for, at least that's my impression. It's not a bad idea either. In fact, we need a new dresser for Ester and are likely going to purchase an antique or vintage piece that will pair nicely with her bedroom. Look beyond the worn out pieces and the amount of work involved in restoration. If the price is right a simple coat of paint and a hardware update can work just fine (some of you may be cringing because I said paint on vintage wooden furniture, but it's OK, that beautiful wood is still there).

Collectibles (Gifts) 

This is my favorite thing to do at antique shops, hunt for unique treasures. Plus, I love finding little knick knacks to give as gifts. Sam's not much into this type of shopping, so we make a good team. He's over looking at something more practical while I'm finding the details. :) 

It doesn't stop here, there are definitely more wonderful things to look for in antique shops... textiles, we'll talking about vintage textiles in another post. :)