David's Den - "A Guide to Buying Smart"

#1. Buy What You Like....

By: RGK • Aug 05, 2011 • 0 Comments

For those who missed this valuable piece of advice and honest direction the first time around....this blogs for you!

There are a lot of reasons why people buy antiques and a lot of reasons why they don't. On the plus side are good design and good craftsmanship. On the other side is what I call the X factor - the fear that you're paying too much for something you're not sure about.

It has become so easy to acquire starter furniture from big box stores that spend millions promoting the hotel look, that many people don't realize the alternative is just as accessible. Stylish, affordable, well crafted furniture is as close as Latique.com or your local design district. While the price points may be a little higher, they are well worth reaching for.

Classic antiques and vintage home decor stand the test of time. They are sturdy - 100 or 200 years of use and they still have miles to go. Many styles were radical in their day, departures in line and function that will surprise you.

For instance, George III furniture (which some people call "brown furniture") has straight lines that work well anywhere. The deep mahoganies with satinwood or ewe banding, or tiny brick moldings, offer nuanced details you just don't see anymore. Big drawers and deep dimensions deliver service with a masculine look that can easily offset a fussy or modern look.

Biedermeier, a German and Austrian rejection of the ornate, was the green movement of the 19th Century. Its light woods and architectural details fit the then new concept of harmonious living.  FYI, the colors of the period were celadons, beiges and their complimentary counterparts (Sound familiar?).

When you enter the world of antiques, you will find yourself absorbing the most fascinating details. Reading an antique is almost like reading a gossip column of the times.

You can tell from the coloring on an antique whether it was placed near a window or a fireplace. If a chest or desk has secret compartments, as so many do, you'll find yourself wondering whether its cache was love letters or real estate deeds (More than one buyer has asked the question and the found the answer inside).  Massive wine coolers and decorative cut glass decanters or Chinese porcelain chargers and well used French farm tables more than hint at good times.

As for the X factor, you can avoid worrying about whether you are paying too much by following a few simple rules.

#1. Buy What You Like

When you first decide to add things to your home, look around. Clip pictures from magazines, surf the net, visit Latique.com (we'll soon have a wish list section where you can archive your favorite items.) It won't be long before you see a trend shaping up as you define your style. When you set out to shop, don't worry if you can't find the exact piece you have already identified. You will find similar pieces that give the same look (Well-known designers of the past created pattern books of their lines so that other craftsman could make the same styles).

#2. Buy the Best You Can Afford at the Time

Besides the quality issue, it's good to know that lots of dealers will work with you when you want to move up. They will buy back so that you don't take a loss.  They will guide you through your changing tastes with an eye to your budget. Ask about this policy before you purchase. It is one more comfort level. To realize the best prices when you move up, buy the best you can afford now.

#3. Don't be Intimidated

Dealers can tend to be stuffy in their descriptions. Because they are purists and not decorators, they are totally absorbed with details just as techies are. So learn to talk the talk. By shopping around, becoming familiar with styles, and referring to the Latique Glossary, you will become conversant with "dealer speak."

For instance, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that a shield back chair is exactly that: a chair with a back in the shape of a warrior's shield. Words like acanthus, patera, laurel and wheat are jargon for flowering plant, decorative button, laurel leaves and wheat stalk.  The natural world has had a huge influence on designers and carvers, just as it does on young children with crayons or paints.

Most of what has been created relates to your world. All you have to do is open the door to curiosity. In that regard, don't be afraid to ask questions. Every dealer worth his or her salt will tell you that there are no dumb questions. Most dealers welcome the opportunity to share their knowledge. They may want to make a sale but, more importantly, they want you to be happy with your purchase so that you become a customer for life.

#4. Build a Dealer Relationship

As with every other aspect of your life, it is important to build solid relationships. By getting to know the people you buy from, you build trust. This will pay off later, when you want to sell, when you're looking for a specific item, when you want to negotiate a better price.

By the way, when it comes to buying antiques, you can't make a mistake. If a dealer sells you something and says it is one thing but you discover it is something else, any good dealer will make good on your purchase.

5: Take Advantage of Undervalued Items

Like shopping designer fashions on sale, you will find similar bargains in the antiques and arts world. Prices tend to fluctuate along with supply and demand.  With a little bit of knowledge, you will soon be able to scope out the bargains on Latique.

To help you along, we will update this site with insider information from time to time

Shown Above: This outstanding 19th c. French giltwood mirror fitted with a two-light candelabrum comes to you from Legacy Antiques and Latique.com