The neglected vintage items you should always buy

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Elizabeth Pash, designer and owner of Elizabeth Pash Interiors & Antiques, has a lot of experience in buying vintage treasures. In this column, she shares some of her best advice. We are aware that many are social distancing now, but we will continue to post vintage shopping content (and ideas from online sources) in anticipation of the day when we can all return to our favorite markets!

Antique shops and flea markets offer a wide range of items: furniture, lighting, accessories. Sometimes it is difficult to spot treasures among the trash. Some of what is on offer falls under the “You must be kidding” category and many other items are not exactly ready for prime time! But if you look closely, some of those pieces that appear to be junk at first glance can be easily turned into gems. I find this especially true with vintage furniture pieces. Before you walk past what might be hidden treasure, ask yourself, “Can this be saved?” “

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Robust frame: If the part is built well, it is worth an investment and can stand up to a finish or upholstery.
  • Quality of materials: On a related note, solid wood or solid metal parts can be saved; if you see chipped veneer, scratched plastic, or rotten wood, it’s probably a lost cause.
  • Source: When looking at upholstered pieces, you need to consider the source; items from unfamiliar or dirty house might contain bugs or fleas, not worth it!
  • Unique details: If a piece has a totally unique carving, inlay, or shape and you love it, it’s probably worth picking up because you probably won’t find something like it again.
  • Size and scale: Many vintage and antique pieces are on a smaller scale than contemporary furniture. If you find something that works perfectly for a place you have in mind, don’t be put off by bad upholstery or paint.

    Here are a few examples of pieces that could easily have been left behind, but turned into great finds:

    old weathered chair
    upholstered chair with green fabric

    This beautiful English Regency accent chair features such exquisite details: a painted finish with gold leaf accents, beautiful fluting on the top and sides, turned legs and an interlocking ring pattern on the backrest. from the chair. But all of these wonderful details were overshadowed by the condition of the seat cushion. A simple solution? Have a new seat cushion made, a very simple and inexpensive way to give this chair a major facelift. We chose a silk in acid green – it not only brightens up the chair, but makes a dusty antique look fresh and modern!


    yellow louis xvi style sofa
    Louis XVI style sofa re-upholstered

    This Louis XVI style sofa has beautiful clean lines and this piece will work perfectly in a hallway, living room or at the foot of a bed. The fabric screamed old lady! To freshen it up, we used a powder pink linen with a drawstring in a deeper pink. The frosting on the cake consisted of adding cushions made by Bviz Designs in powder pink velvet, a whole new look that gives this venerable piece a youthful and fresh look.


      Ottoman
      padded pouf

      The “bones” of these poufs are wonderful: a generous size with a nice bespoke look and feet turned on casters. We found them in a flea market and knew that after a little work we could find them homes. One of them found his way to our client’s pied-à-terre in New York. We needed to “soften” an awkward space under a staircase. We covered one of the poufs with mango velvet and voila !!


        slipper chair
        padded slipper chair

        This small Louis XV style slipper chair was perfectly fine as it is. It has beautiful lines and is finished in a natural linen. However, why not add a little fun? The taupe velvet highlights the frame of the room, which is limed oak. And the orange leather piping, a great contrast to the velvet, gives a contemporary touch to a very traditional chair!


          shepherdesses
          padded armchairs

          Not all Louis XVI style armchairs are created equal. In this state, this duo may not make a good first impression on most. However, a closer look reveals the graceful lines and solid construction of the chairs. With a fresh white fabric, these chairs have been rescued and returned to their original beauty.

            In conclusion, it’s always worth digging a little deeper while looking at vintage pieces that show their age. Look ahead, behind, and below — and make sure you sit in it. If they’re structurally sound and pleasing to the eye, there’s a good chance they can be saved with a good finish or padding!

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