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Antiques are enjoying resurgent popularity

Maybe it’s time to dust off items you’ve stashed away or revisit how to best display Grandma’s handcrafted quilts


Gifted, found or haggled-over antiques offer a way to define and personalize your home’s spaces.

Whether passed down or discovered at estate sales, garage sales or auctions, shopping for antiques should bring a sense of history and connection, and spark delight in your home.

“Mid century modern is still really big, and I see people going for real wood furniture with a pronounced grain. Solid hardwood pieces are classic,” said Kelly Cleaver, a cataloger at Bucks County Estate Traders in Hatfield, Montgomery County.

From tassels and fringe to playful patterns and warm woods, mixing old pieces with things you already have is a way to be part of this year’s trends without sacrificing what’s already in your home.

Cleaver said dark woods “are definitely coming back in and people are really appreciating the natural color of the woods on their own.”

Smarter shopping

She recommends shopping for antiques — especially big ticket items — at trusted sources.

“If you’re looking for something in particular, go to a dealer or auction house that specializes in that piece and can speak knowledgeably about it. That way you know you’re getting something authentic,” Cleaver explained.

She debunks the value myth that translates to something old must also be valuable. That couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Cleaver.

“As with anything else, there is a supply-and-demand component. The 1990s was a hot time for antiques, so pieces were selling at high prices then,” she said.

Any valuable items that were mass-produced, which means there are more of them still in the marketplace, will be less valuable than items which were handcrafted or for which smaller production runs were made.

Keep in mind price points can be much like playing the stock market, Cleaver said.

Creative displays

Mixing periods and repurposing antique items in fresh ways is one approach to displaying and enjoying them.

“If you’re looking to start a collection or to buy something because you want it for your home, a ‘kick-the-tires’” approach translates to knowing everything you can about the piece, its decorative value or its usefulness, she said.

Cleaver recommends educating yourself first so you know as much as possible about the antique items you’re seeking.

Learn about a particular region or the time period. Take the time to discover the lifestyles of those living during the time and why certain items were popular — and useful or decorative — then.

“What kinds of hobbies or everyday tasks were prevalent” during the time period you’re exploring, she said.

Cleaver also recommends visiting museums like the Mercer Museum in Doylestown for classic Americana inspiration or curated museum rooms, furnishings, glassware and textile collections and exhibits at smaller regional museums.

For a “master class” experience in period items, visit Philadelphia Museum of Art for furniture collections. The Andalusia Historic House, Gardens & Arboretum in Andalusia is a prime example of Bucks County Colonial Era living.

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