Where to Find the Best Antiques
Local collectors share their favorite shops, auction houses and more. Plus a few pro tips.
With a little elbow grease, someone else’s trash—be it a curb-mined credenza, an armoire from eBay or the sewing table you found in your grandmother’s attic—can become prize-worthy.
As “brown furniture” has lately fallen out of favor, many local vendors are resuscitating hand-me-downs and secondhand finds with a fresh coat of paint. At Stylish Patina and its sister Rough Luxe Warehouse (stylishpatina.com) and The Back Dorr Furniture Rescue (www.facebook.com/TheBackDorr), all in Falls Church, you’ll find one-of-a-kind refurbished pieces for sale, plus furniture painting classes for DIY-ers who want to freshen up their own items. The Back Dorr also provides custom restoration and upholstery services.
Want an even easier face-lift option? Try replacing the dated hardware on those dresser drawers or cabinet doors with modern knobs and pulls. Caprio & Deutsch (www.capriodeutsch.com) in Arlington and The Home Specialty Store in Great Falls (www.homespecialtystore.com) both carry vast selections of cabinet and furniture hardware. Online sources such as Schoolhouse Electric, Etsy, Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie and CB2 can also help you achieve the perfect marriage of old and new.
If browsing and poking around pop-up stands is more your speed, “The best bang for your buck, hands down, is the DC Big Flea (www.thebigfleamarket.com/dc-show) at the Dulles Expo in Chantilly,” says local antiques dealer Paul Severino. This two-day blockbuster event, which Severino ranks on par with the Paris Flea Market, occurs six times per year, showcasing hundreds of vendors in a warehouse-size space. “It’s soup-to-nuts antiques and collectibles at every price point, and it attracts big-name designers and billionaires with a capital B,” adds Severino, who specializes in silver and better-quality silver-plate, and sells his wares at local antiques shows, as well as at the Antique Center in Savage Mill, Maryland.
Though the quality of the furnishings and collectibles at big shows will run the gamut, Severino recommends buying the best that you can afford. Pieces in good condition are better investments for resale value than items that are cheap but flawed.
“Look around and educate yourself and you’ll start to understand what’s a great price and what’s not,” he says. Attending a few shows and auctions as a bystander will sharpen your radar and improve your hunting skills. “The whole eureka factor—finding something special or underappreciated—that’s the great fun of this business.”