Vintage Furniture shopping: online, flea market, or department store? / by Ginevra Held

Hello all,

Sorry its been so long.  Been a bit hectic as I made the decision to go to London.  Kind of a walkabout/discovery/explore situation.

Anyway, on my first day here, I went to Liberty of London, that beautiful old, can we call it a department store?  I think so, in the way that Barney's and Bon Marche are department stores, not like Macy's though of course.

Here is the gorgeous Liberty tucked off of Regent Street:

Liberty of London, a beautiful half timber building tucked off of Regent Street.

Liberty of London, a beautiful half timber building tucked off of Regent Street.

Liberty has all the trappings of a luxury goods store, designer cosmetics, handbags, clothing.  But they also have their famous fabric line.  And in that vein an entire area dedicated to haberdashery, as in ribbons, buttons, everything you need for sewing, this is what makes it so unique.





They also have an incredible curation of home goods. Here is one of the displays that I found particularly lovely:

That makes you want to do blue and white everywhere, doesn't it?

Finally, I on the home decor floor I found an entire room filled with vintage furniture, here is where we get to the subject, finally of this blog.  Vintage furniture shopping.  Here is a picture of the room:

So, real talk. I was surprised to see vintage furniture in a luxury department store. Though, as discussed Liberty is not your run of the mill store.  Still I was not expecting to read a label saying "pair of 1960's Italian hand painted side tables." Now those little guys were running for about £1000. (Please don't ask me how long it took to find the pound symbol, or why special characters is no emoji and symbols, I kind of hate you Apple (not Gwyneth Paltrow's kid, she seems nice, or the fruit, I mean the computer company))

What are we looking at here? We are looking at the utmost in vintage curation.  Somebody has gone out and found some very unique and very pristine pieces of vintage furniture, chosen not only the best, but also what fits the design sensibility of Liberty and brought it all together here. Somebody has done the work for you.  They have found it, assessed it themselves, its design qualities, its workmanship, and distinguished it from thousands of other items and finally brought them to liberty.  This is what you are paying for.

One King's Lane is similar.  They have edited for you.  There is a lot more on their website though.  I think, from doing a lot of browsing on that site, that the quality is fairly reliable.  They have a lot to choose from though, so the curation part is not as big.  Meaning, you have to either be browsing and find something awesome and buy it whimsically, or know exactly what you are looking for.  They do their own version of curating by having those categorized sales.  This helps narrow down styles and looks.

I would say that the price point between the two is fairly similar, with Liberty being a bit more.  Again that is because you are paying for the curation.  This is similar to hiring a designer.  An Interior Designer is a master curator.  They have an eye and a vision.  They can cull from an enormous amount of information and determine the pieces that fit that vision.

Once you browse around One King's Lane and Liberty, you start to train your eye.  From there you can begin to foray into flea markets.  If you see things similar to what you see on One King's Lane or at Liberty, you can begin to discern the quality and relative worth of things.  Certainly, if you learn to hunt, you can find the 1960's Italian side tables for a lot less then Liberty is offering. But that takes a discerning eye and knowledge.

I think this is the point about price points.  You are not just paying for the item itself, you are paying for the expert knowledge and curatorial talent that went into choosing the pieces.

What am I trying to say? There is value in all of it. In buying something at Liberty, in spending time on One King's Lane, and in sleuthing at flea markets.  

I think the word of the day is curation.  Whether its in the selection at Liberty, or your own at a Flea Market, or from an Interior Designer, its the curation that creates the magic in the room.  There is a lot of stuff out there!!!!! It can be extremely overwhelming.  So it takes time to suss out the good from the bad.  In the end, it takes a lot of time and research to put a home together, whether you do it on your own or with a designer.