How to be the Emily Henderson of Flea Markets: Vintage Shopping Tips from the Pros

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Design Ops

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Published on September 12, 2017

It seems like our favorite bloggers and designers (ahem… Emily Henderson) are always Instagramming the perfect vintage pieces scored at a flea market. Unique and eclectic, these secondhand pieces are different from anything you’ll find in retailers, but how do you find something worth purchasing? As designers, we love a great vintage find, so read on for our tips and tricks for finding your diamond in the rough!

Pick a Price Range

Image via Emily Henderson

There are a wide variety of pieces waiting for good homes, but they aren’t all created equal. Think of our modern-day retailers: some have designer collections and some are priced a bit more affordably. It follows that price typically informs quality. So, set a budget in mind before you head out on your hunt.

Know Your Designers & Brands

Image via Studio McGee

Labels are directly tied to a price range. If you’re looking to score an authentic Herman Miller or Saarinen chair, you need to be prepared to pay designer prices. Other high end names to look for are Milo Baughman and Hans Wagner.

If your budget needs a little more breathing room, there are still plenty of options to choose from. There are many larger furniture companies who produced some nice quality and interesting pieces in the 60s and 70s. These include Broyhill, Thomasville, Lane, Bassett, and Stanley. Just like you’ll see today, some of these manufacturers had designer collaborations or influences from larger architectural movements like Modernism.

Looking for the Real Deal?

Don’t take the seller’s word for it. Make sure that you find the stamp of the manufacturer on the piece. With a chair, flip it over. With a dresser, open the drawers to locate it. Stamps can be fake, too, so do your research if authenticity is important to you.

Find a Fixer Upper

Sometimes all a piece needs is a little sanding or a little paint, so don’t shy away from those that need a little TLC. You can find great pieces at a fraction of the cost if you’re willing to put in a little work.

It’s a Marathon – Not a Sprint

Like any good hunt, it might take you longer than you’d hoped to find the right piece, but don’t give up hope! Set Craigslist or Ebay alerts and check your favorite stores for new inventory early. Some might even have an email list that gives you a heads up when something new comes in. With a little patience and perserverence, those designer treasures you see all over design blogs can be your very own. We can’t wait to see the treasures that you find!


If you need help styling your amazing vintage finds, we can help! Visit Havenly to start your design package now.