Why Buy New When You Can Buy Antique?
Why buy new when you can buy antique?
When I was a young man I always loved furniture with history behind it, but when I went to antique stores I found everything nice out of my price range. Antiques seemed inaccessible.
But that’s not the case at all, as I discovered after our kids left home. I discovered that you can get antique furniture cheaper than modern, if you know where to look, and what you’re looking for. And not only that, quality antique furniture is often rock solid compared to modern factory made. And top it all off, it’s an investment.
You only have to decide which style you want to live in: Georgian? Edwardian? Rococo? Victorian? French Empire? American Federal? Eastlake? Louis the 14, 15, or 16th? You name it, it’s out there.
My and my wife’s preference is Louis 15th and rococo.
Again, all my life I loved castles and everything old. The workmanship is real craft. The materials natural. But go to an antique store and you find it costs as much or more than modern. I could never afford that. So how did it all start?
Well, 15 years ago we bought a house. My wife put out the word to her sisters that we needed a couch, and if they knew of one for a decent price to let us know.
A few days later one of her sisters told us her boy friend was throwing out a French provincial that we would just love. It didn’t fit with his house. She showed us a picture of it and we nearly lost our minds. It was a Rococo sofa with a pineapple motif. I quickly borrowed a truck and picked it up. It came with two armchairs and a Rococo table.
On the way home I was stopped at a light and was offered 5000 for it. I really could have used the money, but I couldn’t do it.
We were still under the impression it was Frence provincial. A few hours of research made it clear it wasn’t.
The only problem having something antique is exactly what my sister in-law’s boy friend had complained about. Antiques look out of place in a modern home. All our other furniture looked dull and boring by comparison. And thus we decided to replace all our modern stuff with antique. But how on a budget?
And, it’s not just the furniture. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right, and try to make the entire house look like it fits the furniture.
Hence, I put chair rails up, two tone painted the walls light brown on bottom and linen on top , and put up crown molding and gold painted the designs, all on the cheap.
It’s funny how in my life, when I’m thinking about something, opportunities knock. After we got the sofa set, I found two American Victorian Eastlake chairs in the garbage. While they aren’t hugely valuable they are worth 100 dollars each even at the thrift shop, as I later found out. 200 plus at an antique shop.
Why did someone throw them out? Because they didn’t fit the house, and they had no idea what they had. The chairs are in great condition, solid as a rock.
It dawned on me that perhaps others were in the same situation, so I started looking on local web pages that let people sell used furniture. And guess what? I found out that if you check the site often, eventually valuable antiques come up for sale for a steel.
Another place to go are the estate sales. But make sure they are run by the owners or kids of the owners. That’s where you get the deals. If they are run by a company, you’re paying close to retail. Some estate sales do auctions. They often aren’t bad either. But by owner is always your best bet.
My wife is the queen of the used furniture web sites. She haggles like a pro, and has made deals I thought were impossible. She waits to see how long an add has been up, and offers often less then half asking price and usually gets it. An English Victorian double bed. Asking price? 200 dollars. Value? 600 dollars. She got it for 50. Best bed I’ve slept in, after I built a box spring to fit a modern double mattress.
An 1890s Canadian made buffet. Value:500 dollars. Price? 50 dollars. Three turner ladder back reed set arm chairs. Value: 800 to 1200 dollars each. “Get these theatrical stage chairs out of my house. “ 10 dollars for the lot.
4 Louis 15th embroidered arm chairs. Two for 50 dollars, a few months later one for 60, and few months after that, one for free. Value? 500 to 600 each, retail.
I could go on for hours. But suffice it to say, we furnished our entire house with antiques for less than 2000 dollars over 10 years. All together valued at 20000 or more at auction, and perhaps 30 or more at an antique shop.
And once you start, you get the bug. It’s great fun learning about antiques and acquiring them for a great price, knowing they are only going to get more valuable. But don’t be afraid to use them.
Eventually, you may even buy and sell on a small scale for fun and profit.
If you are going to buy antiques, it’s important to know what you’re buying. Read books on the subject, watch Antiques road show, UK and US, and research, research, research.
Create the period you want to live in, cheaper than you can ever get new, better quality, and sellable for the price of new and more. And it’s not just about furniture.