Where to Find the Best Antiques

Local collectors share their favorite shops, auction houses and more. Plus a few pro tips.


In the District, The Georgetown Flea Market (www.georgetownfleamarket.com), held every Sunday (weather permitting) for 45 years, draws large crowds with its broad mix of vintage and antique items. And two annual antiques shows in McLean—one at the Madeira School in March and an even larger one at the McLean Community Center in November—attract several dozen vendors from around the region selling American and European antiques, art, silver, furnishings and Oriental rugs (wheretobuyantiques.com).

“The only things that are better made today than they were 50 or 100 years ago are electronics or cars,” Severino says. “You buy an antique because of its beauty, because it’s unusual and because it’s not something your neighbors will recognize out of a catalog.”

Courtesy of Ekster Antiques

Before You Buy…

Antiques hunting is an acquired skill and all sales are final. To avoid buyer’s remorse, heed these pointers before you commit.

Size matters. “If you’re looking for something to fit a certain area of your home, keep the measurements on your phone so you have them with you at all times,” advises stylist Gretel Lynch. “And watch your scale. You can’t put a massive four-poster bed in a 9-by-10-foot bedroom.” If you can think of at least a couple of places in your house where the item might fit, you stand a better chance of making a successful purchase.

Proportions have changed. People used to be smaller than they are today, so vintage dining room tables are often shorter with less leg room than today’s standards, cautions designer Kelly Pitcairn Holland. Which means chair seat clearance could be an issue if you’re looking to pair newer chairs with an older table. “Make sure you can scoot your chair in and sit comfortably.”

Re-upholstering is tricky. Love funky seating? “Vintage chairs may offer a better [deal] than sofas, which tend to have more issues with their inner workings and are harder to refresh and more expensive to re-upholster than chairs,” Danielle Sigwalt advises.

Imagination is key. The secret to snagging a fabulous find may lie in your ability to look beyond cosmetic defects like ugly hardware or stained upholstery to see the item’s true potential. “Say you find a fantastic pair of lamps and they come with old granny shades,” Lynch says. “Put a pair of brand-new drum shades on them to give them a 21st-century vibe, and they’re going to look amazing.”

Eclectic is good. Not everything in a space has to match, Lynch stresses, and that includes rugs and artwork. Buy items you love and decorate with them unapologetically. “These are the pieces that don’t have to coordinate with the rest of a room,” she says. “You just have to want to look at them forever.”

Arlington-based freelance writer Adrienne Wichard-Edds is Arlington Magazine’s style columnist. Follow her @WichardEdds.

Categories: Home & Design