Seeing as it is vintage, flaws in the furniture are often what makes it so special; but on the whole, flaws are expected. However, where does one draw the line between patina and something extremely damaged?
1. Listen to your gut
Your first impression is usually the correct one. Does the furniture look sad and worn out? If the piece of furniture “speaks to you” then go with it, if not move on.
2.Give it a try!
Sit in it, feel it. Does it feel solid or is it more wobbly and unstable? If it is unstable this might suggest that you will have to do more work to restore it. If not, you may have a good find!
Buying vintage furniture from a reputable shop is often a good idea because they will often have done some restorative work to the furniture so you won’t have to. If the shop owner informs you that the piece of furniture has been restored, consider yourself lucky and appreciate the work done. For example, chairs often need to be reglued, cleaned and oiled many times. Even the foam can cost an arm and a leg. So if you find something that has already been restored and you don’t have to do all the work, remember that the piece may last you another 50 years! So paying a bit more might be worth it in the long run.
3. Follow your nose
Mouldy and cigarette smells may be set into the cushion and are often very difficult to get rid of. Foam can also go bad after a while and leave a funky smell. Don’t be afraid to use your nose as a guideline as the smell of the furniture may be a dead giveaway as to the condition of the vintage furniture.
4. Look for bad restoration
Not all previously done restoration jobs are well done. There may be errors such as gaps not filled in correctly, messy stains from glue or paint or screws in awkward places. Bad restoration jobs can mean that the previous owner had no idea what they were doing and this means you will have to undo everything and start from scratch. Sometimes the bad attempts at fixing the vintage furniture are well hidden so look carefully. It may not be the seller’s faults so don’t go blaming them immediately. Sometimes they may not even realize that the faults exist.
5. Don’t be timid!
Feel free to ask for help. You are spending your money after all! Furniture may be stacked high and out of reach, perhaps do not try and get it yourself, ask for help. Don’t let go of what looks like a gem just because you were too shy to speak up!